My dad came over last night to see the new house and grill steak. He was a little irritated that I’d thrown out the old charcoal grill and that we had to grill over gas, but he dealt with it and the steak still tasted pretty good (though he’s totally right about charcoal tasting better). For dessert, I served what I thought what I’d hoped would make up for the lack of charcoal — a really good, scratch, fool-proof lemon meringue pie.
This recipe is adapted from a 1997 Sunset Magazine annual, and it came with a helpful article on how to make Lemon Meringue Pie. I liked the article because it had just enough science not to overwhelm. Basically, the author says making lemon meringue pie is easy if you use the right thickener and add the ingredients in the right order. She says cornstarch is the thickener of choice, but that the trick is to mix it with cold water first, add the other ingredients (including the egg yolks) and add boiling water last. As simple as that was, it worked and the filling was perfectly smooth, translucent and stiff enough to cut nicely. This filling has less butter than some of my other pies so it’s nice and tart.
As for the meringue, it did weep a bit anyway, but it wasn’t a big deal. If weeping were a big deal, I’d have used Shirley Corriher’s meringue which is the only one I’ve made that didn’t weep, but it requires marshmallow crème and I didn’t have any.
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- Baked 9-inch pie crust
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- Assemble all the ingredients – especially meringue ingredients.
- In a 2- to 3-quart sauce pan that is not yet set over heat, mix 1 1/4 cups sugar with 6 tablespoons cornstarch and salt. Whisk in 1/2 cup cold water, lemon zest, and lemon juice, blending thoroughly. Whisk in the egg yolks. Add the butter and whisk in 1 1/2 cups boiling water.
- Set pan over medium or medium high heat (I used medium because the pot was on a larger burner and it was metal) and stir with a flexible heat-proof spatula scraper until mixture boils, about 7 minutes (mine boiled in about 5, but I let it go for 7). Reduce heat to medium (or low, in my case) and stir filling 1 minute more. Pour filling into pie crust and quickly make meringue.
- In bowl of a stand mixer using whisk attachment beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Continue to beat at high speed and gradually add the sugar and cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time. Then beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Spoon meringue onto hot pie filling. With a spatula, swirl meringue to cover filling completely, touching the rim of the pie shell.
- Bake in a 325 degree oven until meringue is browned, about 25 minutes. Set pie on rack until cool, about 3 hours. Serve immediately or store in a cake cover in refrigerator.