Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lemon Meringue Pie

It's always special when Linny comes to visit, especially during the winter when she and Tucky are living in Florida!  But she came to visit on Dad's birthday last week, and when I asked her to choose anything for me to make her, she said that her favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie.  I've never made it before, but I knew that the lemon curd is similar to puddings, which I have made before, and the meringue is something I am quite familiar with due to my mom's obsession with baked Alaska, so I agreed to try it out!

I will say this: I have made lots of pie crusts before, but I decided to try out Martha Stewart's recipe.  I have to admit, Martha: your crust is my least favorite.  It was not easy to make the dough come together - it was really dry - and then it ended up having a weird consistency.  No one else thought so maybe I am just a pie crust snob, but I will be sticking with my old dough recipe from now on.

 Anyway, the lemon curd was easy to make at least.  It is very similar to making pudding and only has 5 ingredients that just get heated up on the stove, refrigerated, and you're done!  And it is so lemony and creamy and thick!

FYI, I made the pie crust and the lemon filling the night before I planned to serve the pie.  Then the day of, I made the meringue.  So it is possible to do some things ahead of time; just make sure you have time to chill the pie before you eat it.

The meringue is your standard whipped egg whites and sugar (and the beauty of this recipe is that the kurd calls for 8 egg yolks, and the meringue calls for 8 egg whites!  Let's not discuss the fact that I saved the egg whites in the fridge and Nick and my mom threw them away, not knowing what they were.... still, the symmetry of this recipe is something I really appreciate!), and then it gets baked briefly so that the meringue gets browned in places, and so you don't have to worry about eating raw egg yolks (that always freaks me out).

The final result was a fluffy, sweet, tart pie that was pretty popular with everyone around here.  It gave us a little taste of summer the week before April vacation :)


lemon meringue pie
from Martha Stewart


for pie crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons ice water, plus 2 more, if needed

for lemon kurd:
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cornstarch 
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
8 large egg yolks (egg whites reserved)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter (10 tablespoons), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

for meringue:
8 large eggs, whites only
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt


1) Make pie crustIn a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar several times to combine. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces remaining.

2) Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  I needed to do this). Do not overprocess.

3) Turn dough out onto a work surface; form dough into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

4) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit a homemade or store-bought pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate; line crust with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Carefully lift and remove paper with pie weights and let crust cool.

5) Prepare lemon kurd: In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, zest, and egg yolks; whisk in lemon juice and salt.  Whisk together 1 cup cold water and 1/4 cup cornstarch add to lemon mixture along with butter. 

6) Place pan over medium-high. Cook, whisking constantly, until butter has melted, mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and small bubbles form around the edge of pan, about 5 minutes (do not boil).

7) Remove pan from heat while continuing to whisk. Pour curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass bowl.  Pour directly into cooled crust and smooth top. Refrigerate until chilled and set, 3 hours (or up to 1 day).

8) Make meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, sugar and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Pile meringue on pie, making sure it touches the crust all around. Bake until meringue begins to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

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