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Baking Fix: Key Lime Pie

Impress your guests with Clara McQuaid’s zesty Key lime pie.

Give spring a nudge forward by making this tangy, citrus-rich dessert that is an absolute delight to taste. This recipe fed six adults and six kids when I made it for a gathering of friends, and there were debates as to who should get the last few slices. The pastry needs to be chilled twice, but it is worth it. The filling could not be easier; however, it does need to sit in the fridge for two hours at the very least. It’s really best made the night before or first thing in the morning for an evening event. I have made this without the stem ginger in the filling and it is still delicious, although the ginger does add a unique twist. Sometimes, I put a thin layer of whipped double cream on top of the lime filling and decorate with lime zest and chocolate. It’s up to you!




Sweet ginger pastry
• 400g plain flour
• 80g icing sugar
• 4 teaspoons ground ginger
• A pinch of salt
• 250g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
• 3 free-range eggs, yolks only
• 50 ml ice cold water
• 1 tablespoon olive oil (if needed)




Lime filling
• 2 x 400g tins condensed milk
• 240 ml freshly squeezed lime juice (about 7 limes)
• 4 teaspoons grated lime zest (about 7 limes)
• 4 eggs, separated
• 3 lumps of stem ginger, chopped
Decoration and finish
• Zest of 1 lime
• 1 teaspoon grated plain chocolate


For the sweet ginger pastry, sift the flour, icing sugar, ground ginger and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the cubed butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the egg yolks into the water and add to the flour mixture, stirring with your hands until the mixture just comes together as a dough. Add olive oil if the dough is a little dry. Wrap the pastry in cling film and set aside in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.




Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 3mm thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and use it to transfer the pastry to a 30cm/12in tart case. Press the pastry into the tin, ensuring there are no gaps in the corners. Allow any excess pastry to overhang the tin. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 °C.




Once chilled, prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork. Line the case with baking paper and weigh it down with baking beans, rice or lentils. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes – this process is known as ‘blind baking’. Set aside to cool on a rack and reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.




For the lime filling, whisk together the condensed milk with the lime juice, lime zest and egg yolks until the mixture thickens. Stir in the chopped stem ginger. Taste the filling and fold in some icing sugar if more sweetness is needed. Pour mixture into the pie crust, smooth the top with a palette knife and bake for 15-20 minutes. The pie is ready when the filling has a slight wobble or when the temperature in the centre has reached 70°C when checked with a probe thermometer.




Set aside to cool for half an hour in the baking tin, then chill the pie in a refrigerator for as long as possible. Once the pie is chilled, sprinkle the reserved lime zest and grated chocolate over the top of the pie.




Clara McQuaid has trawled cake shops and dessert menus across the world, from central Asia to the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Europe. She has happily come to the conclusion that home bakes are by far the best.




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