Lemon Meringue Pie
I have to say this one is among my favorites. Tart and tangy lemon custard with a light and airy meringue on top with just the right shade of golden color on it makes for the best pies. Of course, I have yet to find a place that understands that a lemon meringue pie has to taste like lemon, not some sugary sweet thing. It needs tang. It needs to come up and smack you in the face while the lemon flavor screams ‘HI!’ at you.
Naturally, this is not a simple pie to make. As long as you have the patience to stand over the saucepan and stir the ingredients together until they congeal then slowly add in the hot mixture to the egg yolks so they don’t curdle and become scrambled eggs, you can do it. Anyone can make the meringue as long as you have a good stand mixer or someone to help beat the eggs until they turn fluffy in a glistening white peak.
I learned to make this pie when I was in high school. The first one was good, but the custard didn’t set so it was very runny, but very tasty. After that, I slowed down and waited to feel the cue when it would be ready then it turned into a wonderful pie that my family loved. We all enjoy the flavor of lemon and that grabbed you by the jaw.
About 25 years later, I try to make one again to go with Easter dinner. While it turned out good, the custard didn’t set completely. Everyone loved it, because there is nothing but crumbs left in the pan. The culprit this time? A bit too much liquid. When you do the liquid (water and lemon juice) you have to keep the amounts in proper proportion to one another. If you have 1 1/2 cups of water and a 1/2 cup of lemon juice in the recipe, then to add more of one, you have to take from the other. Also, this time, I used an artificial sweetener (Stevia) instead of normal sugar. While sweetening properly, it probably couldn’t do what the cooked sugar could in holding a custard together. There will be another pie coming this week. 🙂
Yes, I will share this recipe and trust me, it is simpler than others I have seen.
Alton Brown’s recipe
4 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell
1 recipe Meringue, recipe follows
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
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 heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. 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 pie shell and top with meringue while filling is still hot. Make sure meringue completely covers filling and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is cooled completely before slicing.
4 egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Use to top lemon filling.
(Note: You do not have to use cream of tartar to make the meringue)
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