Lemon Meringue Pie


courtesy of The All American Dessert Book by quinnstitch.blogspot.com

yield: 1 pie


Ingredients


For Crust: (or you can use pre-made dough)

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup cold butter (or half butter and half shortening)

4-5 tbsp ice cold water


For Filling:

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (plus more if needed)

6 tablespoons cornstarch

pinch of salt

1 2/3 cups cold water

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into bits

7 large egg yolks

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (plus more if needed)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons (or more) grated lemon zest


For Meringue:

5 large egg whites, completely free of yolk and at room temperature

generous 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

pinch of salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions

Pastry:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

1. Mix flour & salt together.  Cut in butter with pastry cutter until pea sized.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp of water over the flour mixture & gently toss with fork.  Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl.  Repeat with 1 tbsp of water at a time until all the flour mixture is moistened.  Form dough into a ball.  

2. Roll out dough and place into pie pan.  Trim edges at 3/4".  Fold the overhang under to form an edge that rests on the lip of the plate.  Finish by fluting the edges or pressing into the edge with the tines of a fork.  

3. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.

4. Spray one side of foil with non stick spray.  Insert oiled side with onto the pie shell, smoothing foil over bottom and sides and folding it out over the rim to cover the pastry.  Fill the foil with dried beans, spreading them so they extend up the plate sides.  Bake for 25 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven.  (this prevents the crust from bubbling up when baking)

5. When finished, transfer pie to wire rack to cool.


Filling:  Reduce heat of oven to 350 degrees F.

1. In heavy saucepan before heating, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, & salt.  Whisk in the water until completely smooth.  Turn on the heat to medium high heat.  Whisk constantly as you bring mixture to a boil.  Lower the heat slightly, and whisk constantly until very thick, smooth, & translucent, about 2 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat.  Whisk in butter until melted.

3. In deep medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until blended.  Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot cornstarch mixture unto the yolks, whisking constantly and vigorously (you don't want the eggs to cook & scramble).  Whisking vigorously, slowly add the yolk mixture back to the main saucepan cornstarch mixture until well blended.

4. Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously and scraping pan bottom, until mixture boils for a full 2 minutes.  Don't undercook, as the filling may thin out later.  

5. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon juice and vanilla.  

6. If you have any cooked egg chunks in your mixture, strain filling through fine sieve.  

7. Whisk in lemon juice.  Taste.  If it needs more sugar or lemon juice, add now.  Cover & set aside.


Meringue:

1. In a completely grease and moisture free large bowl, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt.  

2. Using a mixture (with whisk attachment) on low speed, mix until frothy.  Raise speed to medium and continue beating until mixture is smooth, fluffy, & opaque, but still too soft to hold peaks. (check by stopping and lifting the beater)

3. Immediately add the powder sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.

4. Add the vanilla.

5. Raise speed to medium-high and beat for 2 1/2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.  Raise speed to high and beat for 1 minute longer, until meringue if fluffy and stand in firm but not dry peaks.


Construct & Bake Pie:

1. If lemon filling is too cool, warm over medium heat until hot again.  Turn out filling into the pie shell, spreading to even surface.  

2. Spread about half of the meringue over the filling, making sure the meringue touches the pastry shell all the way around.  Add the remaining meringue, mounding it slightly in the middle.  Attractively swirl the meringue with the back of a large spoon.

3. Bake for 12 to 17 minutes on middle rack in oven, or until the meringue is cooked through and evenly tinged with brown all over.

4. Let cool for at least 2 hours and then refrigerate until completely cold before covering, this will reduce the beating and weeping of the meringue.  

5. The pie will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.