Step-by-step Lemon Meringue Pie
My grandma loved to make dessert and pies were truly her specialty. Rarely did a Sunday dinner go by without a pie on the table from Grandma B. I never appreciated the effort and skill that went into those pies until I attempted to replicate them! Meringue pies take patience and focus. And until recently, I was not able to commit to precision baking (having older kids certainly makes a difference.)
This past Sunday, my family planned to gather for lunch at our house and I decided to make Lemon Meringue Pie. There is a running joke in my family that this pie is my brother’s favorite… or at least that is what Grandma B thought. She made it often for him and swore it was his favorite. We never had the heart to tell her it wasn’t but luckily we all loved it enough to cover for him.
With Easter just around the corner, I was determined to perfect my lemon meringue pie skills. I have made this pie before but neglected to record the critical steps to deem future success. This time, I recorded the special tricks!
Sadly, we never located grandma’s original pie recipe. Here, I have combined six different recipes to arrive at my favorite version. I like a lot of meringue, so this recipe makes a double batch. (You can also cut the meringue ingredients in half if you prefer less.) Lemon meringue recipes vary on quantities of fresh juice, sugar, thickener (corn starch vs. cream of tartar) and yolks. This filling combination arrives a tasty balance of tang and sweetness.
If you are new to making lemon meringue pie, here are the most important things to know:
- Be sure your egg whites are cleanly separated from the yolks- even the slightest yolk residue will prevent your meringue from peaking
- Use fresh lemon juice- there is nothing better
- Take your time to whip the whites for the full amount of time
- Take your time to thicken and frequently stir the filling – no multi-tasking (note to self)
- Allow the pie to fully cool so that the filling can set before serving
This pie is a perfect ending to a family meal, just ask my brother Tim.
Eat well this SPRING,
- 4 large egg whites (separate carefully to make sure there is no yolk in the whites)
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbs. corn starch
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. table salt
- 1 ½ cup boiling water
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 3 lemons
- 2 tsp. lemon zest, about 1 lemon grated
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy (about 3 minutes on medium). Add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until well incorporated. Beat on medium-high until stiff, 5-7 minutes. Cover and set aside.
- Sift flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt into a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pot. Carefully pour in rapidly boiling water. Place pot over low heat and whisk constantly until ingredients are combined. Once combined, continue to whisk periodically while the mixture to thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Mixture should become the consistency somewhere between pure maple syrup and honey.
- Once thickened, add lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and whisk to incorporate. Add yolks and combine. Whisk over heat 2 more minutes. Pour lemon filling into baked pie crust. Immediately top with meringue, one gentle dollop at a time. Work around the pie adding dollops and stretching them to meet the crust. Smooth the topping with a spatula. Using the back of a soup spoon, create peaks in a circle pattern working from the outside of the pie to the center. Place pie in oven to brown meringue for 12-15 minutes. Cool until pie pan is cool to the touch before serving to prevent the filling from running. Serve or store pie in the refrigerator until serving. This pie is best served the same day it is made.
A special thanks to my sister-in-law, Laura Boeker, for these gorgeous photos. She is a professional family photographer and claims she doesn’t do food. I beg to differ, don’t you? Take a peek at her at beautiful family photos at www.five-petals.com