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Desserts - Pies American Classics
Lemon 1/1/2002

THE BEST LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Submitted by: Judy Whittington

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Servings: 8

Comments:
Craig's birthday request. He said it was the best lemon meringue pie he had ever tasted! So it was worth any extra fuss.

Ingredients:
Prebaked Pie Crust

1-¼ cups (6.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-vegetable shortening, chilled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4-5 tablespoons ice water

½ cup crushed graham cracker crumbs

Lemon Filling

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
¼ cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-½ cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2-3 lemons)
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue Topping

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
9 inch Pie Shell

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Add shortening and process until mixture is like coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and cut in butter, about ten 1-second pulses (butter bits should be no larger than small peas. Turn into medium bowl.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture & fold into with rubber spatula. Press dough down with side of spatula until dough sticks together. Add another tablespoon of ice water if dough doesn't come together. Flatten dough into 4 inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to two days before rolling out.

If dough has been refrigerated more than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs on work surface and roll out dough to 12 inch disk, adding graham cracker crumbs on top before and while rolling. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling around rolling pin or folding dough into a quarter, then unfolding into 9" pie plate. Ease dough into pie plate, trim ½ inch beyond rim and fold overhang under itself, flute the dough or press with fork tines around rim. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes, then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and pre-heat to 375 degrees.

Remove dough-lined pie plate from freezer and press a doubled 12-inch piece of heavy duty foil inside pie shell and fold edges of foil to shield the fluted edge, distribute 2 cups of pie weights over foil. (I used a smaller diameter pie plate as a weight.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until dough looks dry & light in color. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue baking until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before adding filling.

Filling

Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt and water in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning of process and more often as mixture thickens.

When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice, finally butter. Bring mixture to a good simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, place plastic wrap on surface of filling to keep hot and prevent skin from forming.

Meringue

Mix cornstarch with water in small saucepan; bring to simmer, whisking occasionally at beginning and more often as mixture thickens. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, remove from heat. Let cool while beating whites.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks. Remove plastic from lemon filling and return to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue to ensure filling is hot.

To Finish Pie

Pour hot filling into pie shell. Using rubber spatula, immediately distribute meringue evenly around edge and then center of pie to keep it sinking into filling. Make sure meringue attaches to pie crust to prevent shrinking, use back of spoon to create peaks all over meringue. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve same day.

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