Thursday, May 3

The Ultimate Lemon Meringue!

Lemon pie filling has a texture similar to that of a sturdy pudding or custard. The filling is prepared with egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and starch. The meringue, made with beaten egg whites and sugar, is cooked on top of the pie filling. As the meringue bakes, the air bubbles trapped inside of the egg whites will expand and swell making for a really fluffy and beautiful meringue that will not collapse. However, if the egg whites are beaten entirely too long, or if a tiny amount of fat is allowed to contaminate the mixture, then the air bubbles will not expand and the meringue may collapse as it cools. This happens to me all of the time. The meringue can be beaten into either soft or stiff peaks. The temperature the pie is baked at and depending on how you add your sugar also determines the texture and durability of the your meringue.


Pie Shell

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and frozen
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, frozen
  • 3 -5 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Lemon Filling

I love this reproduction lemon colored pottery.
It's a juicer and cake stand!
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh! lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar                                                                
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch  


Making the pie shell:

  • Mix flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, by pulsing a few times.
  • Scatter the frozen butter pieces over flour mixture.
  • Pulse in 1-second pulses about 5 times to mix in butter.
  • Add frozen shortening; pulsing in 1-second pulses until mixture resembles cornmeal with pieces about the size of peas.
  • Slowly add ice water through the processor feed tube, with motor running, one tbsp at a time.
  • When dough forms a ball, stop processing.
  • It should take about 2 or 3 tbsp of ice water to reach this stage.
  • Shape dough into a ball in your flour coated hands, and then flatten into a 4 inch wide disk.
  • Flour disk and wrap in plastic.
  • Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  • Generously coat your work surface or pastry sheet with a little flour and about 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs.
  • Place dough on floured surface, coat with some flour and graham cracker crumbs, and roll into a 9-inch disk.
  • Lift, coat surface with more graham and flour, turn dough, add more graham and flour on top, and roll out to a 13 inch disk.
  • Place into a 9 inch pie pan, and finish edges.
  • Refrigerate crust until firm, about 30 minutes.
  • Prick dough with a fork to prevent bubbling up in the oven.
  • While the oven is pre-heating to 375, put pie crust in freezer.
  • Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it's browning evenly and not bubbling up.

Lemon Filling:

  • Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a large saucepan.
  • Add egg yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups water and lemon juice.
  • Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking regularly, 8- 10 minutes, until thickened. Don't walk away! You do NOT want your filling to brown on the bottom!
  • Remove from heat, whisk in zest and butter.
  • Keep warm until meringue is made.

Meringue topping:                                        

  • Mix cornstarch and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened.
  • Remove from heat when translucent and thickened.
  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix cream of tartar and sugar together.
  • Beat egg whites with whip attachment of mixer until frothy. Add vanilla.
  • Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tbsp at a time.
  • Then drop in cornstarch mixture, 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form.
  • Pour warm lemon filling into pie crust.
  • Distribute meringue evenly over the top, starting with the edges, and then the middle.
  • Make sure it attaches to the crust.
  • Lifting with the back of the spoon, create peaks in the meringue.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Cool completely before serving.

FYI: Thinner skinned, heavy lemons hold the most juice.
MAKES 1 9" PIE                        

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