Lemon meringue was always one of my favorite pies to bake growing up. I learned to make it in home economics class in junior high, and loved to spend hours in the kitchen whipping up meringue and making pie crusts. I loved the filling extra tart so it made you pucker! My mom would take pies to meetings, we’d have pies for dinner or after-school snacks, and even the occasional slice for breakfast if there was ever any left over. It was like magic for me, making something so wonderful that everyone enjoyed.
Last week, some friends invited us over for a morel mushroom feast, and I volunteered to bring dessert. What could be better, I thought, than a nice tart lemon meringue pie to complement a meal full of buttery mushrooms? I hadn’t made one for years, but I knew there was a recipe on landolakes.com.
I begin with the crust. It is so simple, but I always watch carefully so that I don’t add too much ice water. The recipe calls for 2-3T., so I add 2, stir with my fork, and then use my hands to see if I can press the dough together and make it stick. Not quite. I sprinkle another 1T. onto the dry crumbs, stir, and then I am able to get the dough into a ball using my hands.
I use my ruler – a favorite kitchen tool of mine – to make sure my rolled out dough is big enough.
I always use the trick of folding the crust into fourths after rolling it out, and then gently moving it to the pie pan and unfolding it.
For me, folding the crust seems to help get it into the right position the first time, without a lot of fussing.
I like to flute my edge using my knuckle pressed against my fingers.
Making the filling is like a science experiment. It cooks up all thick and bubbly, and then I whisk in the lemon juice, butter and zest. I love the extra flavor boost you get when you add zest to recipes – it’s so much better than lemon juice alone!
I use a microplane and zest the lemon onto waxed paper, then I just brush it off into the filling mixture.
After spreading the filling into the pie, I am ready for the meringue. It has been years since I’ve made meringue, and I’ve forgotten how magical it is. When you get it just right, it has a sheen that is stunning, and the texture is simply angelic. When you get stiff peaks, stop!
Spreading the meringue onto the filling with a spatula is so easy. It just flows and swirls onto the pie almost effortlessly.
Follow the recipe tip and be sure to spread it to the edges so that it stays attached to the inside edge of the crust and doesn’t slide off – which would not be a welcome sight after all that effort!
It's fun making little peaks and designs onto what I am feeling is a pretty perfect pie.
It is nice of my husband to ask me if the oven needs to be turned down. I check the recipe again and don’t see a reference to reducing the temp, so confirm that I am fine. Mistake! About two minutes into baking we smell something burning. No! It was my perfect pie.
I realize my error, open the oven door, re-check the recipe and see that the oven should be turned down to 325°F. The tips of my meringue peaks are a chocolatey brown, but I hope the pie will survive this imperfection. I make a foil tent to cover the meringue to keep it from getting too brown, and just decide to love my pie as it is and continue baking.
After 25 minutes, I check my pie and insert a thermometer into the meringue to check the temp. It isn’t quite at 160° so I put it back in for 5 minutes, at which point it is perfect. Except, of course, for those overly browned tips. Oh, well!
After dinner, the pie slices beautifully and is truly a wonder to behold on the plates.
The tart flavor is indeed welcome after the morel feast! The meringue is sweet, light as air and perfectly done – checking the temperature is a great idea and not something I had done before. The filling is sheer lemon heaven – not too sweet so it balances well with the meringue.
All in all, I find the pie just right. I even like how the brown meringue tips have a mellow toasty flavor -- though next time I’ll try for a lighter shade. Our friend Joel exclaims the pie was "just like when he was a kid," and it makes me remember all my childhood pies, too. I realize that, unless you’re at a pie shop, you really don’t see lemon meringue nearly as often as you should in restaurants. We end up with two pieces left, so I send them with my two daughters in their school lunches the next day for a surprise treat!
Read, rate and review this wonderful recipe for Creamy Lemon Meringue Pie. I'd love to hear about your stories making lemon meringue pie! For more tips and tricks, visit the landolakes.com tutorial on butter pie crusts or the pies FAQ.