“You may be given a load of sour lemons, but why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pie?” -Maya Angelou
Ah, lemon meringue pie. It’s a traditional pie that goes back to being made in the early 1800s. The Quakers are credited with inventing a lemon curd. But as for the pie that we know and love today, the credit goes to Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow, who was a pastry chef in Philadelphia, PA, in the 1800s. Now it is a very popular pie choice in the U.S. probably for its refreshing lemon taste sweet meringue topping. This pie is one of my grandmother's favorite recipes, and I hope you will enjoy it too.
The first thing to do when making any pie is to prepare the crust. It is a good idea to make the dough and let it sit before baking. I always like to blind bake a pie dough, meaning weighing it down with beans or pie weights in the oven. After blind baking, be sure to poke holes in the bottom of the crust so that the pie shell does not bubble up when baking for a second time. Pre baking the pie crust will ensure that the finished pie will have a crisp bottom, without any leaking of the lemon curd.
Making the lemony-tart filling is pretty straightforward. Cooking it on a stovetop in a saucepan. It is important to not cook the egg yolks by whisking the mixture constantly. The lemon juice and zest should be added at the end so that the flavor doesn’t cook off of dilute before putting it in the oven.
Whipping the meringue topping is important to get right, having a meringue that is not stiff enough will be difficult to shape, and will not bake properly. You may want to pipe the meringue onto the top of the lemon curd to get more of a structured look, or you can do a “plop” method. By simply spooning the meringue on top, you can then use the back of a spoon to swirl the meringue and create gentle peaks.
After the pie is done baking, allow it to cool before cutting into it. This will give the lemon curd time to solidify a little bit more. Don’t leave the pie out at room temperature for over an hour, or else the meringue will begin to melt into a liquid sugar state.
I hope you enjoy this pie. As the weather becomes warmer it is the perfect time to enjoy the sweet tang of lemon and meringue.
Ingredients for Pie Crust
¼ cup of vegetable shortening
½ cup of flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1- 2 Tablespoons cold water
Ingredients for Lemon Filling
5 egg yolks
1 ⅓ cups sugar
1 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoons cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ cups of water
½ cup lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Ingredients for Meringue
5 egg whites
½ cup of sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
Male the pie crust: combine the shortening, flour, and salt until pea-size balls form.
Gradually add water, a small amount at a time, until large ball forms.
Roll out dough into a disk to fit 9in pan (Note: do not overwork or crust will be tough). Set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the pie shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights.
Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and pie weights and poke the bottom with a fork in various places (Note: without poking the crust with a fork the pastry may bubble up)
Put the crust back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes, or until the crust is a lightly browned color. Set aside until the filling is ready to be poured in.
For the filling: separate the egg yolks and set aside the egg whites. Whisk the egg yolks and set them aside.
In a medium saucepan combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, and water with a whisk. Cook over medium heat, continually whisking, until the mixture thickens.
Remove from heat and whisk one spoonful of the mixture into the egg yolks at a time.
Put the mixture with the combined egg yolks back in the saucepan on medium heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and zest. Set aside.
Start making the meringue: whip egg whites on medium speed and slowly add cream of tartar and sugar. When soft peaks form, add in the vanilla paste, and increase the speed.
Preheat the oven at 325 degrees.
Reheat the lemon filling until boiling hot, and put into the pie crust. Top the pie with the meringue, ensuring there are no gaps of the filling showing through the meringue. Use the back of the spoon to create decorative peaks.
Bake the pie in the oven for 20 minutes.
Cool on a rack and serve when slightly warm.