Foolproof Lemon Meringue Pie
Circle B Kitchen
This is undoubtedly the best, most reliable lemon meringue pie I've made. It turns out perfectly every time, and after you get over the lengthy instructions, you'll see that there's nothing at all tricky about any of it. Each step is quite simple and straightforward. I totally recommend that you prepare your pie crust one or two days before you make the pie.
Recipe courtesy, Cooks Illustrated
One 9-inch pie shell, store-bought or homemade (here's my recipe)
1½ cups water
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch (I add just a little more to ensure that the filling holds up)
⅛ tsp salt
6 large egg yolks
1 Tbls grated lemon zest plus ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
2 Tbls unsalted butter
⅓ cup water
1 Tbls cornstarch
4 large egg whites
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup (3½ oz) granulated sugar
For the Pie Crust:
The crust must be partially baked before assembling the pie, which is called “blind baking”. You will need a piece of aluminum foil and about 1 lb of dried beans or pie weights. You can do this 1 or 2 days before you plan on making the pie. Here's how it's done...
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.
1. Roll your pie crust out and place it in a 9-inch pie pan, leaving about ½-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under along the edge of the pie pan and the crimp or flute as desired.
2. Place the pie in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes to chill, which will help the crust to keep its shape in the oven.
2. Line the chilled pie crust with a piece of aluminum foil, folding the edges as needed to fit just under the outside edge of the crust. Fill the pie with dried beans or pie weights and place it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees.
3. Remove the pie from the oven and carefully remove the foil and very hot beans to a pan or bowl to cool. Use a fork to gently prick the bottom of the crust, which will ensure that the crust will not rise or form bubbles in the oven. Return the pie to the oven and continue baking for another 10 minutes or so. The crust should be lightly golden brown.
4. Place the pie pan on a rack to cool completely and then refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pie. I place my pie shell in an extra large Ziploc bag to protect it in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to assemble the pie…
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
For the Filling:
Bring water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to a simmer in large saucepan, whisking occasionally at first and then as it thickens, stir it constantly. When mixture starts to turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in lemon zest and juice and butter. Return mixture to brief simmer, then remove from heat. Lay sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep warm and prevent skin from forming. (I just put a lid on my pan)
For the Meringue:
Bring water and cornstarch to simmer in small saucepan and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar on med-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to med-high and beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated and mixture forms soft, billowy mounds. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat to glossy, stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove plastic from filling and return to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue (to ensure filling is hot).
Pour still-warmed filling into the pre-baked pie crust. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute meringue evenly around the edge and then the center of pie, attaching meringue to pie crust to prevent shrinking. Using back of spoon, create attractive swirls and peaks in meringue. Bake until meringue is light golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Place the pie on a wire rack to cool for at least 3 hours, but longer is better to ensure that the filling has ample time to set up.