When my birthday arrived, I was so excited about the cake. I’ve always had a major sweet tooth and we didn’t have desserts very often growing up so my birthday cake was a big deal. After dinner when it was finally time for my birthday cake, the cook came in holding a…. a lemon meringue pie! I didn’t understand. Where was my birthday cake?
After my parents explained that this was it and I should be happy and thank the cook for being so nice, I started crying. I didn’t want lemon meringue pie. It was my birthday and I wanted birthday cake. My 4 year old self was not happy.
I’m sure I seemed little a horrible little brat at the time. For years I maintained a small grudge against lemon meringue pie.
At a family gathering last Christmas I was retelling this story and when I got to the ‘and then they brought in lemon meringue pie’ part, my father somewhat sheepishly added “I might have had something to do with that.” My father LOVES pie and in his defense when he asked the cook to make the pie he never imagined his 4 year old didn’t like lemon meringue pie. He thought the it would be a great idea.
When I go home I usually try to make my dad a pie and while I was home for Easter, inspired by a lemon meringue tart I had at Colson Patisserie, I thought I’d make him a lemon meringue pie. Colson’s tart was good but the crust was a bit too sturdy for my taste.
The lemon filling in this recipe never completely firmed up for me. I don’t know if its because I didn’t cook it long enough or what, but no minded the slightly running filling. Other than that it was very good.
Lemon Meringue Pie (yields one 9 inch pie)
(Active time: 1 hour Total time: 2 hours)
- enough pastry dough for one pie crust
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
For the crust: On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out the pie dough and fit it into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim off excess dough and crimp edge decoratively. Prick shell in several places with a fork. Chill 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans (I’ve been reused the same dried beans as pie weights for years) or rice. Bake shell in middle of oven 10 minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and beans. Bake shell until golden brown, roughly 8-10 minutes more. Cool the shell pie and lower oven temperature to 350°.
For the filling: In a heavy saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt and gradually whisk in water and milk, whisking until the cornstarch has dissolved. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks.
Cook the cornstarch mixture over moderate heat, whisking frequently, until it comes to a boil. Gradually, whisk about 1 cup milk mixture into the yolks and then whisk the yolk mixture into cornstarch mixture. Simmer the mixture, whisking, for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in butter, lemon juice, and zest until butter is melted. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap.
For the meringue: In another bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites with cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks. Then beat in the sugar in a slow stream, beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks.
Assembling the Pie: Pour filling into pie shell and spread meringue on top. Be sure to cover the filling completely, sealing the meringue to pie shell. Draw meringue up into peaks with the back of a spoon and bake pie in middle of oven until meringue is golden, about 15 minutes.
-Adapted from Gourmet’s (May 1995) Lemon Meringue Pie recipe.