As you might know, my husband is in the horticulture business. A couple of weeks ago, he brought home some lemons. Not ordinary lemons. These lemons were bigger than my fist.
Celebrating Thanksgiving a weekend early, I decided to attempt my first Lemon Meringue Pie. I searched several recipe books, most of which only used a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
Having these enormous lemons, I needed a recipe requiring a significant amount of juice.
Cook’s County to the rescue. Their recipe for Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie requires an entire cup of freshly squeezed juice, plus some lemon zest.
After some research, I discovered Lemon Meringue Pie is best prepared the day you serve it.
Because I was preparing other dishes for this special meal, I decided to take a short-cut and used a refrigerated pie crust.
Pillsbury seems to be the most recommended brand. All I had to do was unroll it….form it to my pie pan (which I used a disposable for easy clean up)…pinch the rim for a decorative crust….and par-bake it.
Ingredients for Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie
[jbox color=”yellow”]FILLING: 1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice + 2 Tablespoons freshly grated zest
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 large egg yolks (reserve 4 egg whites for the meringue)-allow eggs to come to room temperature
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened[/jbox]
I removed one of the refrigerated pie crust from the packaging and allowed it to come to room temperature, about half an hour.
This made it much easier to work with. After shaping it into the pie pan, I pinched the edge making a decorative design.
I par-baked the 9-inch pie crust according to package directions. Make sure the crust is slightly brown before removing from the oven or it will be doughy upon serving.
While the pie crust cooled…I prepared the filling.
WHISK – the sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch, and salt together in a large saucepan until the cornstarch is dissolved.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture becomes translucent and has thickened, about 5 minutes.
WHISK in the egg yolks (at room temperature) until combined.
STIR in the lemon zest and butter.
Bring to a simmer and stir constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer, into the pie shell and scrape the filling off the underside of the strainer.
Place plastic wrap directly over the surface of the filling.
Refrigerate until set and well chilled, at least 2 hours.
How NOT to make a lemon meringue pie…
This is where I tell you WHAT NOT TO DO. Be aware if you are repeatedly opening the fridge, as it will not chill enough, therefore, the filling will not be set.
If you kitchen is warm – as in – cooking a Thanksgiving meal – LEAVE THE PIE IN THE FRIDGE AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. The colder the pie, the better the filling will set.
Once you know the pie is set…begin prepping the meringue. Do not make the meringue ahead of time.
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites, reserved from filling, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract[/jbox]
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400º.
COMBINE the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a vigorous boil over medium-high heat.
Once the syrup comes to a rolling boil, cook for 4 minutes (the mixture will become thickened & syrupy).
Remove from the heat and set aside while heating the egg whites.
Using an electric mixture on medium-low speed, beat the whites in a large bowl until frothy, about 1 minute.
Add the salt and cream of tarter and beat, gradually increasing the speed to medium-high, until the whites have soft peaks, about 2 minutes.
With the mixture running, pour the hot syrup into the whites (avoid pouring the syrup onto the beaters, or it will splash).
Add the vanilla and beat until the meringue has cooled and becomes thick and shiny, 5-9 minutes.
Using a spatula to mound the meringue over the filling, making sure the meringue touches the edge of the crust.
I used a small butter knife to create peaks on top of the meringue, per my grand-daughter’s instructions.
Bake until the peaks turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. let the pie cool on a wire rack until the filling has set – AT LEAST 2 HOURS.
WHAT NOT TO DO – cut into the pie in less than 2 hours. The filling will pour out like lava, which is exactly what happened to me.
This pie is delicious. The lemon flavor is perfect. The meringue is light and compliments the pie exquisitely. However, the recommended times for chilling, baking and allowing it to set after browning the meringue, are CRUCIAL. Do not bypass any of these steps.