Tangy, Velvety, Luscious, Sticky, Gooey, Ying and Yang Lemon Meringue Pie Extraordinaire by Jill Mant
If you follow this blog at all, you would have had to witness me state clearly and unequivocally that I am not a baker. It’s not that I can’t make indescribably delicious baked goods because I can. What I can’t do, it seems, is to make beautiful, artful, visually tantalizing baked goods.
If I am on my home court, I can use the scents of butter and sugar and what ever else is encapsulated in my magic to captivate my dinner guests. Under the spell of aromatic potions and lavished taste buds, one who dines on my baked goods will forgive me their lack of beauty. I pray that you, the reader, does as well.
You see today is The Brit’s birthday and this incredible husband of mine gives without abandon and asks for naught. So when he said “You know I really fancy a lemon meringue pie for my birthday”, well how could I not oblige? Who would have thought the 100 degree days would continue?
I was meeting a friend for lunch and decided I would stop at the store afterwards to pick up a few necessary items. The sun looked as if it might hide behind some incoming clouds and bring welcome relief. I had contemplated making the pie this morning, but I who rarely turns on the air-conditioning, had flipped the switch to “cool” after Mack’s eight am walk. I didn’t want to be simultaneously cranking the AC and heating the kitchen, so I thought it better to try and wait for an incoming afternoon storm.
Why I thought this would occur, I have no idea. And it didn’t. And so, I warmed up the kitchen to what felt like two hundred and fifty degrees and made this lemon meringue pie for the love of my life, for his birthday. It wasn’t hard; it was hot! It didn’t take much more than a half hour of activity all told. It was just that standing over a saucepan of emerging lemon curd, whisking away to avoid lumps, warms more than the soul.
I tried to make the meringue look pretty. Margo had donated a pastry bag and a nozzle for it a while back and I got it out. I also sprayed sticky gooey meringue all over the front of my cabinets and my dress when it came out spurting out the rear of the pastry bag as I squeezed the midsection! I felt like Lucy, only Ethel was no where in sight and I had to clean the big mess I made all by myself.
So here’s to you Colin, the lemon meringue pie you requested, hopefully just as you fancied it. May it’s tart and buttery curd explode in your mouth with the flavor you remember from your childhood and may the meringue melt in your mouth with sweetness to balance the curd. May the year ahead be served up in all it’s ambrosial deliciousness and may any bitterness that comes your way be candy-coated with the joy of our love.
Ok, ok, before you mock my sickeningly sweet ode to my husband, just try this pie and see how it affects your psyche!! It is absolutely the best lemon meringue pie I have tried and I too asked my mom to bake one for me for my birthdays. The Brit wouldn’t say that it was better than his mom’s, but he did mention that I had done her proud!
|The Very Best Lemon Meringue Pie|
- For the Pie Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water, or as needed
- For the Fillings:
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 7 large egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 8 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Place the flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of your food processor and pulse to combine.
- Using the pulse button, work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- With machine running, add 3 tablespoons of the ice water through the food tube and combine for 30 seconds.
- Remove from processor and on a floured counter, work with your fingers just until the dough comes together, adding more water as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a smooth dough, being careful not to overwork the dough.
- Form the dough into a disk shape, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- When ready, roll out the dough and place it in your pie or tart tin, using your fingers to fix any holes, etc.
- Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or rice.
- 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.
- 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, I baked my meringue 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.