Lemon Meringue Pie

I really like recipes from my Cook’s Illustrated book, because you know they tried tons of different methods to get the best results. In this pie, for instance, they tried a bunch of things to prevent common problems with meringue. The solution they came up with includes having you put the meringue on hot filling to help cook the bottom of the meringue (which prevents puddles of uncooked/undercooked egg), and bake in a relatively cool oven to prevent overcooking and brown the meringue evenly. It works wonderfully!

IMG_5130Ingredients:

Lemon Filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Plus:

  • one pre-baked pie crust, cooled to room temperature

I got just enough juice from 2 lemons – not a bad idea to have a third around just in case.

To make the filling, mix the sugar, cornstarch, salt and water in a large nonreactive saucepan, stirring until the cornstarch is entirely dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium heat whisking more frequently as it thickens, until it becomes translucent.

IMG_5114Whisk in the egg yolks two at a time.

IMG_5115Whisk in the zest, then lemon juice, and finally the butter. Bring to a solid simmer, whisking constantly, then remove from the heat.

IMG_5117Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly on the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming.

To make the meringue, mix the cornstarch with the water in a small saucepan, whisking until completely dissolved, then place over medium heat. Whisk with increasing frequency until the mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, then remove from the heat and set aside. This is very little water, so it’ll happen quite quickly.

Thicker this time.

Thicker this time.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the cream of tartar and sugar together and set aside briefly.

Beat the egg whites and vanilla until frothy.

IMG_5121Add the sugar mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the mixture reaches soft peaks.

IMG_5122Add the cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. During the last minute or so that the eggs are being beaten remove the plastic wrap from the lemon filling and put it back over low heat to rewarm. Pour the reheated filling into the crust.

IMG_5125Immediately spread the meringue around the edge of the filling.

IMG_5126Fill in the center with the rest of the meringue.

IMG_5128Make sure the meringue touches the crust all the way around, so that it won’t shrink and pull in towards the middle. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks all over the  meringue by gently tapping and pulling sharply away.

IMG_5129Bake until the meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

IMG_5134This pie is best day of, but still quite tasty for several more days.

IMG_5139The meringue is light and fluffy, and the filling was very lemony. The Cook’s Illustrated folk know what’s up.

IMG_5140Lemon Meringue Pie

From The Best Recipe.

Lemon Filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Plus:

  • one pre-baked pie crust, cooled to room temperature

To make the filling, mix the sugar, cornstarch, salt and water in a large nonreactive saucepan, stirring until the cornstarch is entirely dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium heat whisking more frequently as it thickens, until it becomes translucent. Whisk in the egg yolks two at a time. Whisk in the zest, then lemon juice, and finally the butter. Bring to a solid simmer, whisking constantly, then remove from the heat. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly on the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming.

To make the meringue, mix the cornstarch with the water in a small saucepan, whisking until completely dissolved, then place over medium heat. Whisk with increasing frequency until the mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the cream of tartar and sugar together and set aside briefly.

Beat the egg whites and vanilla until frothy, then add the sugar mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the mixture reaches soft peaks. Add the cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the mixture reaches stiff peaks.

During the last minute or so that the meringue is being beaten, remove the plastic wrap from the lemon filling and put it back over low heat to rewarm.

Pour the reheated filling into the crust. Immediately spread meringue around the edge of the filling, then fill in the center with the rest of the meringue. Make sure the meringue touches the crust all the way around, so that it won’t shrink and pull in towards the middle. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks all over the  meringue by gently tapping and pulling sharply away.

Bake until the meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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About sparecake

My name's Corinne, and I like cake, cookies, and chocolate! Also, non-c-things such as ponies, Star Trek, and biking. I write a food blog and a blog about life, wide open spaces, and museum work. Nice to meet you!
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