On Friday, I played a round of golf with my dad (I get out maybe once a year) and we were discussing summer desserts. I, personally, am of the belief that any real dessert has to include chocolate, and the denser that chocolate, the better. However, my dad, also a sweets connoisseur, was arguing for the merits of a light, sweet, lemon meringue pie. I have always shied away from meringue, because some part of me was convinced it was far too hard to make (it’s not), and have never actually truly made a pie from scratch, crust and all. But, after flipping through a couple cookbooks and spending a considerable amount of time on Pinterest, I decided to give it a go.
Speaking of Pinterest, if you want to see all of my recipes in a mildly easier format than my blog, you can follow me here!
My grandmother, aunt, and cousin all came over for dinner last night, and since my mom was grilling steak, a light dessert seemed the right choice. Apparently it was; my grandmother declared it was “the best lemon meringue pie she has ever had.” That sort of praise does not come lightly, so without further ado, lemon meringue pie!
First, mix together the flour and salt in a medium bowl with a fork.
Then, cut in the shortening until the crumbs are pea-sized. I still don’t have a pastry blender, so I used the two knife method I learned way back in Home Ec in middle school.
Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until dough pulls together away from the sides of the bowl.
This next tip I learned at a Williams-Sonoma technique class. If you are near a Williams-Sonoma, I highly recommend stopping in on Sundays for the free classes. They cover all sorts of things and you can make a full meal out of the samples you get to try.
Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and lightly flour it. Gather the dough into a ball and place it in the middle. Flatten it into a round disc, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes to get the shortening to chill.
Lay out a piece of wax paper and lightly flour. Put the chilled dough in the middle and roll out to about 2 inches wider than a 9 inch pie plate flipped upside down. I got impatient and didn’t roll it out enough, which came back to bite me later, but that’s life.
Flip the dough into the pie plate push into the bottom and sides. Roll the edges under and flush with the side of the plate. Flute as desired.
Prick thoroughly with a fork and bake at 475°F for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. In the next picture you’ll see what I mean by not rolling it out enough – my crust shrunk on me. Oh well.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 400°F before continuing. Then, separate three eggs. Put the yolks in a small bowl and the whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the egg yolks with a fork.
In a medium saucepan (no heat yet!), mix together the sugar and cornstarch.
Add the water gradually and mix into saucepan as well. I did about half a cup at a time.
Now you can turn the stove onto medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, until it has boiled for a minute and begun to thicken. It goes from liquid to really thick scarily fast, so don’t let that alarm you.
Pour about half of the mixture into the egg yolks and mix. Then, pour that egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Photo credits to my mom on these shots – I was busy being stressed about cooking things over heat and ruining them.
Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust and spread until kind of flattish.
Now for the meringue – it really is simple with a stand mixer. Put the whisk attachment on and beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed until foamy.
Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and beat until shiny and stiff.
Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
Spoon the meringue onto the warm filling and spread all the way to the crust on each side. I kept reading reviews of the topping shrinking in, so I think this is the best way to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Bake at 400°F for 8-12 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned. Remove to wire rack to cool at room temperature for 2 hours.
From here, you can store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve – it is best when chilled.
Not sure how long it will keep, probably a couple of days if you don’t mind the meringue seeping into the lemon filling part, less if you want them to stay separate. We didn’t have to find out since between six of us, we had no problem eating the pie in one sitting.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Pie Crust Ingredients:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening
- 3 tablespoons cold water
Lemon Filling Ingredients:
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- zest from one lemon
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pie Crust Directions:
- Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl with a fork.
- Cut in shortening until grains are the size of peas.
- Add water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with fork after each addition until dough comes away from sides of bowl.
- Gather dough into a ball and place on floured plastic wrap. Press into round disc and wrap. Store in refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
- Roll out dough on wax paper until about 2 inches wider than a 9 inch pie plate flipped upside down. Flip dough into plate and press into sides and bottom. Roll under edges until even with plate and flute as desired.
- Prick thoroughly with fork and bake at 475°F for 8-10 minutes until light brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Reduce oven heat to 400°F.
Lemon Filling Directions:
- Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl with a fork.
- In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar and cornstarch.
- Add water, about half a cup at a time, to sugar mixture, stirring to combine.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. Boil for 1 minute, continuing to stir.
- Pour about half of the sugar mixture into the egg yolks and stir. Pour egg yolk mixture back into saucepan and continue to cook and stir over medium heat for two minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour filling into crust and spread evenly.
- Beat egg whites and cream of tartar using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer at medium-high speed until foamy.
- Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat until glossy and stiff.
- Beat in vanilla extract.
- Spoon meringue onto top of warm filling mixture, spreading all the way to the crust on each side.
- Bake at 400°F for 8-12 minutes until meringue is lightly browned. Remove to wire rack to cool for 2 hours before transferring to refrigerator to chill before serving.