Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie


Lemon meringue pie is refreshingly tart yet sweet. It is the perfect summer dessert especially when paired with fish or light salads. And it's the perfect way to finish off a dinner of roast lamb!

This recipe is from the vintage Antoinette Pope School Cookbook. I've made it many times and enjoy its small size. I'm not a believer in oversized pies. They are often underdone, especially in the center. And a large pie has a mis-matched ratio of filling to crust.

Prepare a pastry crust recipe of your choice or buy the pre-rolled ones from the dairy section of your market, or prepare recipe that follows. Line a seven-inch pie plate and pre-bake according to instructions. Allow to cool.


Filling:
Makes one seven-inch pie. (A double recipe will make a ten-inch pie--if you must.)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (save the whites)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch combined with 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1 1/3 cup very hot water
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
In a 2-quart saucepan combine all ingredients except lemon juice, lemon rind and butter. Stir until smooth after each addition. Cook until thick and smooth over medium heat, stirring continuously; then add lemon juice and rind, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Shut off the heat, add butter; stir until melted, cover tightly and let stand while preparing Meringue Topping.

Meringue Topping for one 7-Inch Pie (for a 10-inch pie, double ingredients and bake 20-22 minutes)
  • 1/3 cup fresh egg whites (about 2 eggs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup fine-sifted granulated sugar
Be sure egg whites are at room temperature. Place in a 7-inch bowl and just before beginning to beat them add cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla and at once beat until they form a very soft meringue that still slides out of the bowl. If using a powerful mixer, use medium speed otherwise use high speed. This may take about one minute. Now start adding sugar, about 1 teaspoon at a time, and beat after each addition a few seconds. After all sugar has been added, beat about 2 more minutes with an ordinary beater, 1 minute with a powerful beater, or until peaks are fairly stiff and tips are only rounded. Do do overbeat.

Pour the hot lemon filling into the cooled, baked pie-shell, and at once without cooling filling, cover about 1/4 inch of crust with meringue, using a spoon or small spatula. This will prevent the meringue from sliding off when cutting the pie.

Note the soft peaks on meringue.
Heap rest of meringue onto pie filling, a spoonful at a time, and with back of spoon make very slight indentations pulling up points slightly, keeping meringue a little higher in center.

Place pie on bottom rack of a preheated 400-degree oven and bake about 15-18 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown (not light.) Remove from oven; place pie on a cake rack away from drafts until bottom of plate feels cool. This make take several hours. Then store pie in refrigerator for at least two hours. This will prevent filling from spreading when cut. When cutting, dip knife into hot water to prevent meringue from sticking to it.

Notes: I've had success freezing individual slices in zip-lock bags and then bringing to room temperature to serve.


Pie Crust
  • (Makes one open-faced 10-in crust or one two-crust for a 7 or 8-inch pie)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch or two of salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled fat (butter, lard, shortening or a combo)
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Place flour, baking powder and salt in a small food processor. Pulse to combine. Add cold fat and pulse just until combined and large lumps begin to form. With machine running, dribble water through top, pulsing as you go, until the dough masses into one lump and leaves the sides of the machine.

Remove. Knead just slightly with a bit of flour, in necessary. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

To bake crust for lemon meringue pie: line plate with crust and flute. Prick crust with tines of a fork along bottom and on the sides. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes or just until golden. Check after five minutes and, if any bubbles appear, puncture with fork. Allow to cool before filling. When cool, sprinkle with a bit of plain bread crumbs to fill in any "holes" from the fork tines.



Notes: I use a combination of butter/lard.


2 comments:

Ciss B said...

I think this is one of my favorite desserts!

Gary said...

It's funny because when I make it people are taken aback at how good it is and they always say, "It doesn't take like lemon meringue pie." The reason: they've only had the kind made from Jell-O Pudding mix.... so funny!