My perfect lemon meringue pie. Finally!!!
I always wanted to put a pie in an open window overlooking a beautiful meadow so the aroma of it would waif across the open fields to someone who had a sweet tooth and ready for dessert. Oh, well, it is a window even though it doesn’t open and no beautiful meadow to look at, but it is a delicious pie which is going to get eaten.
I’ve said before how my husband loves Lemon Meringue Pie and that the first month we were married I made seven trying to perfect the kind of pie he was yearning for. Last year for his birthday I made this Lemon Meringue Tart and this year for his birthday I decided to give the Lemon Meringue Pie another chance (or me another chance anyway to try and get it right).
I don’t know why I spend so much time thinking and wondering why something is done a certain way or how it was first done. So while making this pie, three times in three weeks, I’ve been pondering how the pilgrim wife must have made her first pie; how maybe she ground her own flour, of course used lard and then figured out she could use this pie crust for any delicious meal from savory to sweet. How she might have gathered her own berries or picked her own peaches or even killed her own chicken to put in a pie.
Then after searching the internet (which I do more than I should) I came across some answers to my questions. The Pilgrim woman (or man) was nudged out of the “first pie” being made in her iron skillet or aluminum pie pan by a few thousand years. The first pies date back to 9500 BC. Wow, can you believe that. Over the last several thousands of years there have been so many different kinds of pies baked over open fires and in so many different kinds of ovens…. from meat pies like steak and kidney, pot pies, fruit pies, fish pie, quiches, pizza pie, Scotch pie, berry and fruit pies. Early pies were called galettes (I made my first galette a couple of years ago), which is a real rustic pie which is my favorite. No fancy crimps, scallops, pinches, slashed edges, just a folded over edge to hold in the filling. I guess you could even call a Pop Tart a pie of sort — crust and a filling.
Sometimes I wish for a simpler time; more like the pioneer ladies, but, not for more than 10 seconds. I would miss my iPhone, my computer, all my kitchen appliances, my car, going to the movies, my ability to go to a gourmet grocery store and get ingredients that those ladies had to do without. So, I’m back in the real world with my lemon meringue pie and the fact that this pie was going to Elgin, Texas the day I made it, before it had to be refrigerated and may or may not get those weepy drops on my mile high meringue. Hope they liked it.
Almost perfect crimped pie crust ready for oven.
Lemon Meringue Pie
(adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe, my meringue and crust recipes)
4 egg yolks, reserve whites for meringue, plus extra white for meringue
1 1/2 c. water
1/3 c. cornstarch
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 9″ prebaked pie shell (recipe below)
1 recipe meringue, see recipe below
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 325°.
Whisk egg yolks in medium size mixing bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. Turn the heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually, 1 whisk-full at a time, add hot mixture to egg yolks and stir until you have added at least half of the mixture.
Return egg mixture to saucepan, turn heat down to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter, lemon juice, and zest until well combined. Pour mixture into baked pie shell and top with meringue while fillings still hot. Make sure meringue completely covers filling and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is cooled completely before slicing.
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
Put the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar in a grease-free metal or glass bowl (not plastic) and beat with mixer until soft peaks form. Very slowly sprinkle in the 3/4 c. sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat or you will not be able to make the meringue peak.
My favorite pie crust:
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. Crisco shortening
7 Tbsp. ice water
Put the Crisco, salt and shortening in your food processor and pulse 5-6 times. With the processor running, pour in the 7 tablespoons of ice water and continue to run the processor until the dough comes together in a nice ball. This will take less than 15 seconds.
Flatten the ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.
To roll out, flour your counter or cutting board with a little flour, flour your rolling pin and start rolling and turning your crust as you roll until you have a nice round circle about 1/8″ thick. I usually turn the pie plate upside down over the crust to judge the size. I cut the crust 1″ bigger than the pie plate.
Fold the pie crust gently in half and lift this up and align with the center of the pie plate. Ease the crust up the sides and fold under any extra crust. Then you can do your edge.
When you put the meringue on top of the hot filling it starts cooking the meringue from the bottom up and you don’t end up with only top of the meringue browned.
Also, I baked the meringue at a lower temperature than most recipes call for. I like it nice and brown without having the burnt meringue peaks.