“Oranges and lemons,say the bells of St Clements” is the first line of the nursery rhyme school children sing to actions. Remember: two people join their raised hands, like a steeple, while the others file through in anticipation, hoping that the impending chopper doesn’t come down on their head. And the moral of this story? Listen to the churches’ calling, or else.
St Clements Church was near the wharfs of the Thames, thought to be directly opposite where the cargo of oranges and lemons came in from the Mediterranean, and en route to the fruit markets. Back in the 16th century, oranges and lemons were precious cargo—exotic fruits that were something to sing about.
So, yes, (hum along now): filled with oranges and lemons, is this pie of St Clements. And (OK, you can stop humming) the creamy-tangy filling is encased in a crumbly smashed-biscuit base. This recipe allows for alternate toppings: a whipped cream that mirrors the pie filling’s sweet-tang, made with cream and yoghurt, and meringue peaks much like lemon-meringue pie.
Either way, we can be glad that this childhood-rhyme-inspired pie takes its cues from delicious fruit, rather than four ‘n’ twenty blackbirds.
- Preheat oven to 160°C.
- For the crust, place all the ingredients in the bowl and crush 5 seconds/speed 7.
- Press this crumbly mixture evenly but not too tightly into a greased spring-form tin or tart mould (around 25 centimetres diameter) lined with greaseproof paper—very important to stop the pie sticking to the bottom. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
- For the filling, whisk the egg and egg yolks in a clean bowl for 2 minutes/Butterfly/speed 4. Add the condensed milk and whisk again 30 seconds/Butterfly/speed 3. Lastly add the juices and zest and mix 10 seconds/Butterfly/speed 2. Pour into the blind baked crust base and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until just set. Leave to cool at room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- For the topping, place double cream, yoghurt and icing sugar in the bowl and whip for 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes 30 seconds/Butterfly/speed 3. Ensure that the mixture has the firm consistency of whipped cream, if not, whip a few more seconds, watching carefully so it doesn’t split and turn into butter.
- Spread over (or pipe over) the filling and top with candied zests.
AND … It is extremely important to use double cream for the topping. No other type of cream will work into the required whipped-cream consistency when mixed with Greek yoghurt (I learned the hard way … twice!); other cream will not thicken and will eventually split. If you only have thickened or pure cream on hand, omit the yoghurt (increase the cream quantity to 300 grams) and whip to a thick cream.
Alternative topping: Meringue
Instead of the traditional cream topping you can make a lighter baked meringue topping by beating 3 egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar to stiff peaks for 2 minutes/50 degrees/Butterfly/speed 3.5 in a very clean bowl. Then, with the blade running on 4 minutes/Butterfly/speed 3.5, gradually incorporate 1 tablespoon at a time of 120 grams of icing sugar.
Roughly spread the meringue over the filling (you don’t need to have it rested and set for this) creating rustic-looking peaks. Blowtorch to caramelise the meringue or bake for 5 minutes in the oven to lightly brown.
Allow to cool completely before enjoying.