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Lemon meringue pie

May 9, 2010
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Lemon Meringue Pie

Can a person survive on lemon meringue pie?  I kinda did for two days.  Well, not pie alone.  More like pie and iced coffee.  Just for the record, I’ve experienced no ill effects.  And no scurvy either.  {tee hee}

I can’t say enough about how much I love this pie!  Lemon meringue pie actually reminds me of my mom, because any time I’ve ever eaten it, it’s been one she’s baked.  Always delicious.  I’ve never made one of my own before, and since it was my turn to choose what Ingrid, Monica, and I baked together, I picked a lemon meringue pie made from scratch.

It was so surprisingly easy!  If I had known that, I’d have made it a long time ago.  This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe and I found that I have only one complaint.  Emeril suggests baking the pie crust using pie weights.  You know when you see a cartoon character trying to make a decision and there’s an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?  Instead, I had  Emeril on one shoulder and my mom on the other.  They weren’t necessarily looking devilish or angelic, but you get the point.  My mom never uses pie weights.  Instead, she uses a fork to prick her crust all over before baking it and she never has this puffy pie crust problem.  My crust puffed up and shrunk up a lot, and I can only blame myself.  I should have listened to my mom.  She said so too.  Lesson learned.

The crust tasted delicious though – not a bit soggy and with a wonderful flakiness and flavor.  The lemon filling was just the perfect tartness.  Smooth and creamy and wonderful.  I thought the meringue was perfect, too, when it came out of the oven.  But after cooling it on the counter, I came back to find the meringue covered in all these little droplets of moisture.  This could have happened for a couple reasons – overbaking the meringue or overbeating it in the first place.  I may have been guilty of both.

When it came to enjoying this lovely pie, I could have cared less about that weepy meringue.  It was a delicious pie.  Absolutely delicious.  I will happily make it (and eat most of it) again.

Recipe:  Lemon Meringue Pie

(pie recipe from Emeril Lagasse, Food Network; pie crust recipe from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan)

1 pie crust, recipe follows

Lemon Filling:

1 1/4 c. granulated sugar

5 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 c. whole milk

1/2 c. cold water

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

6 large egg yolks

2/3 c. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 Tbsp. limoncello

2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


4 large egg whites

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

6 Tbsp. powdered sugar

To Make Pie:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, pressing gently to fit, trim the edge to within 1/2-inch of the pan, turn under, and crimp decoratively.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or rice. **Or listen to my mom and gently prick your crust here and there with a fork.** Bake until the crust is set, about 12 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake until lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before filling.

Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, milk, water, and pinch of the salt in a large, non-reactive saucepan, whisk to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. As the mixture reaches a simmer and begins to thicken and turn clear, 4 to 5 minutes, whisk in the egg yolks, 2 at a time. Slowly add the lemon juice, whisking constantly, and add the zest and limoncello. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisking constantly, return to a simmer. Remove from the heat and pour immediately into the prepared pie crust.

To Make Meringue:

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and remaining pinch salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beating constantly, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until glossy stiff peaks form, being careful not to over beat, as this will make the meringue difficult to spread.

Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Working 1 row at a time, pipe the meringue across the top of the hot lemon filling in a zigzag pattern, alternating direction with each row. Cover the pie filling completely, going out to the pastry edges, so the meringue does not draw up or weep during baking. (Alternatively, spread the meringue evenly over the pie filling using a rubber spatula, smoothing out to the pastry edges. Make decorative peaks in the meringue using a dull knife or the back of a spoon.)

To quickly cook the meringue, preheat the broiler with the rack in the highest position. Place the pie under the broiler and cook until the meringue is set and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning. (Alternatively, the meringue can be cooked in a preheated 325 degree F oven until set and golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes.)

Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Pie Crust ~yields enough dough for two double-crust pies:

(If you make the full recipe, it freezes beautifully, and you’ll have pie crust at your fingertips whenever you want to bake another pie.  Or, you could cut the recipe in half or quarter it.)

5 1/4 c. pastry flour or all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 3/4 c. solid vegetable shortening (11 ounces), chilled

1 c. ice cold water

(I made my dough in my kitchen aid mixer, but you can also do this by hand or in a food processor.)

Fix mixer with paddle attachment (or use a pastry blender).  Put flour and salt in bowl and mix.  Add butter and mix on low until it is cut into dry ingredients and the mixture looks coarse and crumbly.  Add shortening in small bits and continue to mix on low.  When the mixture holds together when a small bit is pressed between your fingers, add the water and mix only until it is incorporated.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold it over on itself two or three times, just to finish the mixing and to gather it together.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. mamajulie permalink
    May 10, 2010 2:30 am

    My husband always wants lemon meringue pie instead of a cake for his birthday. I’ve also had great success with the recipe from the vintage Betty Crocker Cookbook, circa 1970’s. (also circa me.) The important thing is that the tartness of the filling contrasts with the sweetness of the meringue with each bite. Thanks for inspring people to try this–everyone loves it.

  2. May 10, 2010 2:53 am

    I’m soooooo jealous. Your pie looks amazing! I think I’d like yours better than I did mine. Seriously, your pie looks perfect! Looking at yours has me wanting another slice but of your pie!

  3. May 10, 2010 5:39 am

    Your meringue looks great and now I’m wishing I had used a little more meringue :-)

    My crust puffed up too but that’s my fault for using store bought. I would definitely make this pie again. It was delicious and I’m kicking myself for sharing. ha ha!

    Of the 8 slices I had 3 but I could have easliy eaten 3/4 of this. Great choice this month!


  4. May 10, 2010 8:03 am

    mom is always right. :) even with your crust problems, this pie looks perfect. the filling is so vibrantly yellow and the meringue is properly puffy. well done!

  5. May 10, 2010 9:11 am

    This pie looks yummy. I’m not a fan of meringue, so I always use whipped cream instead. I love the contrast of sweet and acidic. I must make this!! Thanks you three for sharing this recipe. I’ve given up on trying to be a part of your trio :(. I’ll just enjoying looking at your creations instead.

  6. May 10, 2010 9:11 am

    Ooo that just looks like the pie I want to have right about now! And good to hear that it’s easy as I will definitely be making this!

  7. Dani Lawton permalink
    May 10, 2010 10:55 am

    Your pie looks amazing….wish I like lemon!

  8. May 10, 2010 10:57 am

    Delish! I love lemon and your lemon meringue pie looks fab!

  9. May 10, 2010 11:08 am

    omg this looks sooo good. A good lemon meringue pie–well you don’t need to eat anything else once you have that. At least I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and supper. And snacktime too. Oh I wish I had a baking gene….

  10. grandy permalink
    May 10, 2010 11:36 am

    I made a lemon pie for Mother’s Day and I have to say “Yours was prettier!” You did a great job :)

  11. May 10, 2010 12:44 pm

    Oooooooh… Lemon meringue is one of my absolute favorites. Yum. Yum. Yum! I like those weepy meringue droplets. Are they not technically supposed to be there?

  12. May 10, 2010 4:07 pm

    Looks delicious!

    I have that problem with the beads of water, too. I had no idea what the cause was. Thank you for enlightening me !

  13. May 11, 2010 7:18 am

    I’m pretty sure I could live on lemon merengue pie. I mean, at least for awhile. This is one of the most gorgeous pies I have ever seen! Nice job!

  14. May 11, 2010 2:20 pm

    I always cheat when it comes to the pie crust and purchase it but it isn’t really that hard with a good recipe. This pie is one of my hubby’s favorites. Thanks for the warm wishes for my mom, she is here with us and recovering nicely but wants to go home to her own house. Grr, I wish she would stay a bit longer but I understand.

  15. oneordinaryday permalink
    May 15, 2010 11:54 pm

    Thanks for all the kind words, everybody. : )
    ~ Michelle

  16. Eleni permalink
    May 15, 2011 8:22 pm

    I just made this for dessert today and it was so amazing that I had two rather large pieces!
    It ended up being a little bit wonky though. I left it on the counter to cool and it started to form little condensation dots on it so I stuck it in the fridge but when I cut it an hour later the filling didn’t set right so it was still a little runny but it was still so delicious that I just didn’t care.
    It was also a lot easier to make than I thought it was going to be and my 1 year old daughter just loved it so that was a plus too!!

  17. oneordinaryday permalink
    May 17, 2011 7:12 am

    Eleni – Sorry you had trouble with a runny filling! My filling was great, but I also got those pesky little condensation drops on my meringue. I’ve googled that several times and no matter what I try, I still get them. My kiddos will just grow up thinking that meringues are supposed to look like that, I guess! : )
    ~ Michelle


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