Life gives you Lemon Meringue Pie


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Two things to know about me:

  1. If I am going to someone’s home I will always offer to bring something
  2. I am a pie girl, I take the buttery, fruity, chocolatey, sweet, savory type over cake on nearly any day.

Okay, back to present, last Sunday an invite for Father’s Day and my sister-in-law’s mom’s birthday linner is sent out. It turns out my sister-in-law’s mom’s favorite dessert is Lemon Meringue Pie. Full disclosure, I have never made a meringue, I have never made a lemon pie, and I have actually never tasted a lemon meringue pie. Sounds good, I can do this. By Thursday the above mentioned really starts to sink in. By Friday I am actively looking for recipes (thank you http://www.epicurious.com). By Saturday I am grocery shopping, and by Saturday evening a panic is starting to settle in.

Sunday I bake.


Ingredi
ents: Pie crust, you’ll get this recipe at another time. Because of the doubt I was feeling about the filling and the topping I went with a store bought. Homemade or store bought you’ll want to use pie weights (rice, beans, pie beads) and pierce the dough with a fork – like you might have done with a frozen tv dinner’s plastic wrap as a kid.

Filling

1 cup sugar

5 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp fresh lemon zest

Meringue
4 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup of sugar

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, 1995

Make filling:
In a heavy saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt and gradually whisk in water and milk, whisking until cornstarch is dissolved.
In a bowl whisk together egg yolks. Cook milk mixture over moderate heat, whisking, until it comes to a boil, this happens all of a sudden and the mixture is surprisingly thick.
Take the pan off the stovetop and gradually mix into the egg yolks, whisking all the while so that your eggs aren’t scrambled. Return egg and cornstarch+milk mix to the stove. Simmer mixture, whisking, 3 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, lemon juice, and zest until butter is melted. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap.
Make meringue:
In a large glass or metal bowl with an electric mixer beat egg whites with cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks. Beat in sugar in a slow stream, beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks.
Pour filling into shell and spread meringue on top, covering filling completely, sealing it to pastry. I found it worked best to allow the meringue to lap up onto the baked pie crust. Draw meringue up into peaks and bake pie in middle of oven at 350 until meringue is golden, about 15 minutes.


Somewhere along these steps the first pie crust that I blind baked shrunk in the pan, do not forget to pierce the dough! So as I continued to mix, blend and whisk I snacked along the way on shrunken pie crust – it tastes just as good as you’d imagine, very.

The meringue was definitely the most intimidating, it’s very humid in DC (not good for flully egg whites) and after watching many episodes of Alton Brown I imagined it would be something you would have to learn how to make only from practice. Hah! Alton is such a good teacher, it worked! I just kept looking for the peaks. That’s them in picture #3.

Success! The pie was delicious, the meringue did shrink up a little bit and slide across the filling. So, while it didn’t look as picture perfect upon delivery as it did on the counter, it did get good reviews for taste. Things I would do differently next time: Put the meringue directly on the warm filling, this helps to set the egg whites; not drive 2+ hours before it gets served, this allowed the meringue to ride a slip and slide all the way there.

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