Happy Lemon Meringue Pie Day!

August 15, 2011

Lemon meringue pie was one of the first pies I ever baked.  I was in seventh grade and made the pie as an assignment for my foods class. I am not sure how our group of six thirteen year olds managed to pull it off but we did.  I don't remember if it was good or not; however, nowadays whenever I step in the kitchen to bake a lemon meringue pie, I recall that day.   Lemon meringue pie is a delicious combination of textures and flavors.  A buttery and flaky pie crust is filled with an intense lemon curd and topped with a light, slightly sweet meringue.  This pie will make you want to just dive right in.

Lemon Meringue Pie
(recipe from Apt. 2 Baking Co.)

For the Crust (makes 2 crusts):

2 1/2c all purpose flour
1t salt
1t sugar
1c cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4-1/2c ice water
1t apple cider vinegar

1. Pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor.
2. Add butter and pulse until the butter is the size of large peas.
3. Combine the ice water and vinegar in a measuring cup and while pulsing, slowly drizzle the liquid down the feed tube. Pulse until the dough starts to hold together a bit, there should still be visible hunks of butter in the dough
4. Dump the contents of the food processor onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to press the dough together. Separate dough into 2 pieces, form into disks, and chill for at least 30min before rolling.
5. For one pie, remove one dough disk from the fridge and roll out to a 13'' circle. Place the dough in a 9'' pie dish, then fold and crimp the edges to form a decorative rim. Freeze the formed crust for 30min before baking.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the frozen shell with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake the crust for 15 min, remove the paper and weights, then bake until the crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Filling:

1/4c cornstarch
1c sugar
1 1/2t finely grated lemon zest plus 1/2c fresh lemon juice (organic or unsprayed if you can swing it)
1/4t salt
2c water
4 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue topping)
4T unsalted butter, room temp

1. In a saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar, zest and salt. Whisk in the water. Cook over medium hear, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick. About 7 min (2 min after it comes to a boil).
2. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks, then pour the hot cornstarch mixture in a slow steady stream. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes back up to a boil, 1-2 min.
3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, then add butter 1T at a time. Let the custard cool for about 10 min.
4. Pour custard into prepared crust and place plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate until custard is firm (6 hours or overnight).
5. When you are ready to serve, prepare meringue filling below.

For the Meringue Topping, double for a Mile High topping:

4 large egg whites
1/8t cream of tartar
6T sugar
1/4t vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.
2. Gradually add sugar, increase speed to high and whisk until glossy and forms stiff peaks, stir in the vanilla.
3. Spoon meringue onto the surface of the pie until it reaches the crust, then use a spatula to create a swirly, peaked pattern.
4. Gently brown the topping under your broiler, or with one of those fun kitchen torches. Be Careful! It only needs to be under the broiler for about 45 seconds so keep an eye on it the whole time.

Image Sources: