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Manchester Tart (lemon Meringue Pie)

  • 6-8
Manchester Tart (lemon Meringue Pie)

This tart is a step back in time. It originated, as the name suggests, in Manchester, England, though initially it came without the glamorous meringue topping. That was added for the visit of Queen Victoria, as the local, working class dessert with its breadcrumbs was thought too humble. Like all meringue-topped pies, it needs to be eaten as soon as the meringue topping is cooked.


  • 1 quantity of sweet short pastry
  • 1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon rind
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 2-3 tblsp brandy
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • ¾ cup caster sugar


  1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, large enough to cover the base and sides of a 24cm round loose bottom tart tin. If the sides are fluted, press the pastry into the sides firmly to ensure that on cooking, the tart has a highly patterned edge. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill the centre with baking blind beans or material.
  3. Bake at 190°C for 10 minutes. Remove the baking blind material and continue to cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is well cooked. Be careful that the edges of the sweet pastry do not over brown.
  4. In a saucepan put the breadcrumbs, cream, bay leaves and lemon rind and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and mix in the lemon juice, castor sugar and brandy.
  5. Beat about 1 cup of the hot mixture quickly into the egg yolks. Once well incorporated, add this mixture to the saucepan and beat well. Pour the warm filling into the cooked pastry base.
  6. Bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes or until the custard has just set.
  7. In a scrupulously clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Beat in the castor sugar a little at a time, beating until all the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is thick and glossy. Spread the meringue over the top of the cooked filling.
  8. Return the tart to a 220°C oven for 5-10 minutes or until the meringue has set and the peaks of the meringue are just beginning to become golden. Serve quickly after cooking.

Cooks Tips

• The tart can be prepared up to a point earlier in the day. Add the meringue and finish when guest are there or when ready to eat. • Make the breadcrumbs from day-old crusty bread. You can also use stale bread. Make crumbs in a food processor or rub pieces of bread between your hands. Stale bread crumbs easily. • Baking blind material can consist of pasta beans or rice. Alternatively you can buy metal or ceramic beans. Ceramic beans are ideal as they heat up and cook the pastry while baking blind, reducing total cooking time. Look for them in good cook shops.

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