Tuesday 4 September 2012

Cape Gooseberry Meringue Pie, from my new cookbook

Although I'm not a fan of sweet things, this is a dish I just cannot resist. I adore Cape Gooseberries because they remind me of my childhood. Friends on a farm nearby had an enormous gooseberry bush right next to their front door, and I have lovely memories of sitting on sun-warmed slasto steps, peeling away the crisp papery casings and biting down on hot, sweet berries that exploded in a shower of seeds on my tongue.

Photograph by Michael Le Grange; plate by David Walters. Image © Random House Struik 2012
This pie, my twist on a much-loved family pud, is wonderfully tart and crammed with intense gooseberry flavour. It's an unusual recipe because a gelatine filling is briefly heated in the oven while the meringue is browning.  But if you measure everything exactly and let the pie chill until the filling is completely set, you can’t go wrong.

Cape Gooseberry Meringue Pie

4 cups (about 650 g) dehusked Cape gooseberries
½ cup (125 ml) caster sugar
½ cup (125 ml) water
2½ tsp (12.5 ml) cornflour
juice of ½ lemon
1 Tbsp (15 ml) powdered gelatine

For the biscuit crust:
1 x 200 g packet Tennis biscuits, or similar crumbly coconut biscuits
(90 ml/90 g) very soft butter

For the topping:
4 extra-large free-range egg whites
a pinch of salt
1 cup (250 ml) caster sugar

First make the crust. Break up the biscuits and process them to fine crumbs in a food processor. Place in a bowl with the soft butter and stir well to combine. Lightly press the mixture onto the base of a non-stick 24-cm springform cake pan lined with buttered baking paper (or use your favourite pie dish). Chill while you make the filling.

Put the gooseberries, caster sugar and water into a pan, turn on the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6–8 minutes, or until the berries are just beginning to collapse. Mix the cornflour and lemon juice until smooth, add this to the gooseberries and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes. Now sprinkle the gelatine evenly all over the hot liquid and stir until it has completely dissolved. Cool for 15 minutes, then pour the mixture over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Heat the oven to 190 °C. Beat the egg whites with the salt until very firm, but not dry. Add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of the caster sugar and beat again until firm. Add the remaining caster sugar gradually, beating all the time until you have a very stiff, glossy meringue. Pile the meringue over the gooseberry filling and, using the back of the spoon, coax it towards the edges of the tin, making sure there is a tight seal. Bake for 5–7 minutes, or until the meringue is a light coffee colour. Cool for 20 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until the gooseberry filling has set. Serve cold.

Makes one 24-cm pie; serves 8.

Cook’s Notes
Take your time beating the meringue to a shiny, billowing cloud; this should take you at least 4–5 minutes. Don’t be tempted to run a knife round the edges of the meringue until you are about to release the pie from the cake pan for serving, as it will shrink back from the edges.
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Kit said...

What a great idea for using gooseberries. I already know they work perfectly with meringue from the pavlova I made for Jeanne's Taste of Yellow event, but this is one step further.

We've got so many at the moment that I'm starting to freeze them - this could be a wonderful way to use them again, perhaps at Christmas time, when we're no longer sated with eating them fresh every day.

Anonymous said...

mmmm looks yum! Love gooseberries!

Lulu said...

Just discovered your gorgeous blog!
I am living in London and feeling very homesick for South Africn food after looking at you blog:)
Just became your latest follower:)

D.J. Kirkby said...

Oh wow! I would love to make this but CCG are an import here so this would only be affordable for special occasions.