Despite what we all say about Apple being the All-American favorite, THIS is the pie everyone drools over. Maybe it is the combination of the sweet meringue and tart lemon that goes so good together, or maybe it's just that the billowy meringue piled high on top looks so impressive. Maybe it is the fact that pie lovers know this one is like a hothouse flower - delicate, prone to wilting, and a bit temperamental. I don't know, but pie lovers RAVE about Lemon Meringue pie like no other. This particular recipe is my mother's. She is not a big pie baker, but this is the ONE pie she bakes, and it is her signature dessert. (Incidentally, my mother claims that making this is as easy as...well...pie. But what does she know? I have made tons of pies over the years, and I am officially labeling Lemon Meringue as one of the comparatively high-maintenance ones. So there.) If I haven't scared you off from trying it yet, let me tell you that it is WORTH THE EFFORT! This recipe calls for double the amount of meringue, because Mom likes it piled high and peaked, never swirled!
Fair Warning: This pie is best served the same day it is baked. The meringue will wilt and shrink a little by the next day, and if by some slim chance there is any left after two days, it looks downright pitiful! So be sure it is nice and fresh.
Prepare one recipe for Flaky Pie Crust (You will use the bottom crust only, so freeze the other half for later use). Pat the dough into a pie pan, flute the edges, and blind bake it. (Blind Baking is pre-baking the crust before filling it: Prick the crust bottom a few times all over with a fork, then put some tin foil inside the crust and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then let it cool.) Leave the oven on so it is already preheated for the next step.
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3 Tbsp Cornstarch
3 Tbsp Flour
dash of salt
1 1/2 Cups Hot Water
3 Slightly beaten egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/3 Cup lemon juice
Mix Sugar, Flour, Cornstarch, and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Cook until boiling, then reduce heat and cook two minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat. Mix a small amount (about 1 tsp) of the hot mixture into the egg yolks and stir. Add a little more and stir again (this is to temper the egg yolks so they don't cook and curdle). Then add the yolk mixture back into the pan and cook two more minutes, again stirring constantly, until even thicker. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon zest, then slowly pour in the juice. Pour into the pie shell. Make meringue right away so that you can top the filling with meringue while the filling is still hot.
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla1/2 Teaspoon cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons Sugar
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add sugar two tablespoons at at time, then beat until peaks are stiff and glossy. Spread over the lemon filling, being careful to "seal" it to the crust well at the edges.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until the meringue is nicely browned.
Let it cool for at least an hour before slicing. I prefer to let it cool to room temp, which is usually 2+ hours (This pie is delicate - if it is too hot it will fall apart). Slice it with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.