Lemon Meringue Pie

With no family get together at Easter this year, because of the stay at home order, I wasn’t spoiled with my typical lemon meringue pie made by Grandma. So, I ventured out and made my own and I’m happy to report it went quite well! I may have done a take two with the meringue, but who would even know looking at those photos 🙂 Don’t worry, baking the meringue is a perfectly good option over broiling for those of you like me who also get distracted far too easily. I was distracted by the leftover meringue and what I could do with that. As if that wouldn’t keep my mind on the meringue in the oven under the broiler at that moment. I really wonder about myself sometimes haha We’ll come back to that in a minute, but let’s start from the beginning.

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In addition to focus, I found it really helpful to set up three stations to stay organized while baking. The first station was for making the pie crust. I’m not saying store bought pie crust isn’t sufficient, but I am definitely encouraging you to make your own. It’s a very simple process and turns out so flaky and good! I certainly don’t claim to make the prettiest looking pie crust, but I do promise it’ll be delicious. You’ll need flour, crisco (or coconut oil), baking powder, salt, apple cider vinegar, an egg and cold water.

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  • Start by mixing the flour and crisco or coconut oil together in a large bowl. You can use your hands to help break up the crisco/coconut oil. The goal is to get the start of a clumpy dough. Then add in the baking powder and just a dash of salt. Stir together again.
  • Make a hole in the center of the dough and pour in your egg, vinegar and half of the cold water. whisk from the center moving out to start mixing the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Once it’s all combined, add the remaining cold water and mix until you have a nice ball of dough that stays together. Take that out of the bowl, form as needed with your hands and cut that into 4 sections.
  • You’ll only need one section for the lemon pie.  The other three can be flattened on parchment paper, wrapped up and added to a Ziploc bag to go in the freezer for later.
  • Flour your surface well and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it’s big enough to lay over the pie dish. Fold in half, lay over pie dish and unfold to cover. Press down around the bottom of the pan, pinch sides all around the pie and then use a fork dipped in water to press down between the pinched sides and to poke holes in the bottom. The hole pokes in the bottom are to prevent your crust from puffing up in the oven! (been there, done that!)

Now that you have the pie crust ready to go, you can either bake it (if you choose to broil your meringue) or set it aside if you’re planning to bake the meringue. The next two stations are for making the lemon filling and the classic meringue…

Starting with the filling…

First things first, my grandma gave me an egg white separator tool since she never uses it and it is amazing! It’s just like this and it most certainly helped me out while making this pie! I even told her she may want it back, but she’s grandma…she doesn’t need the silly knick knack tools of the modern baker haha

So once you have your egg whites and egg yolks separated and whisked in two different bowls, measure out your water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice (use real lemons vs. store bought juice – makes a difference!), lemon zest and butter (I’m calling the butter optional). At the same time, go ahead and measure out the cream of tartar, salt and sugar for the meringue and set it aside next to the egg whites for later.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest and whisk to combine. Wait for it to thicken and start bubbling and then whisk together again and reduce the heat to low. Temper the egg yolks and don’t be nervous about this part. This is where I was fairly certain I’d mess up, but turns out that came later in the game 🙂 Very cautiously, add a few spoonfuls of the warm lemon mixture to the beaten egg yolks and stir continuously. Then! Slowly add the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the lemon mixture and whisk constantly. Turn the heat back up to medium and watch for big bubbles to start forming as it boils. Once you see that happening, remove from heat and whisk in butter if using. *This was the first time I used butter in the recipe and it may have helped the pie set and added a little richness for the flavor, but I’m not sure it’s 100% necessary so I’m calling it preference! Pour the filling into the pie crust and move on to your meringue station.

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Meringue is fun and easy to make so don’t be intimidated by that either! And if you have a stand mixer, do use that to make life easy! Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium speed for just a minute and then increase to high speed and mix until soft peaks form. At that point, add the sugar and salt and mix on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form. You’ll know it when you see them. Spread the meringue on top of the warm filling. It’s important to do this while the lemon filling is still warm to help keep the two separated. If you’re feeling fancy, use the back of a spoon or spatula to make some decorative peaks 😉 Two things to call out at this point…

  1. This recipe makes a lot of meringue and I’m leaving as is, because I’m assuming most people like a heaping layer of meringue! Unpopular opinion over here – I love the meringue, but I’m not about to let it steal the show from the lemon filling!
  2. After making the pie crust, I baked mine at 350 for maybe 20-25 minutes, because at this point I chose to cook the meringue under the broiler which only takes a few minutes. If you’d prefer, you can leave your crust unbaked, pour in the filling, top with meringue and bake for 25 – 30 minutes now instead of using the broiler. And if you’re easily distracted might I suggest this option!
  3. (bonus thing) Since this recipe makes a lot of meringue, I was able to save the day and scrape off the first layer of meringue I nearly burnt and replace it with a fresh layer that I watched like an eagle as it broiled. Live and learn. You hope anyway 🙂

*Once the pie is fully baked, let it cool to room temperature on a cooling rack and then store in the fridge for at least four hours so it can set. This is what motivates me to bake lemon pies early in the morning 🙂

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Other things worth mentioning…

  • Lemon pie certainly won’t keep as well as pies like apple, peach or raspberry. It’s unfortunate. So definitely make this day of and enjoy within a couple days if you have leftovers. Keep refrigerated too!!
  • That cute ruffled pie dish is from crate and barrel. You can find it right here!
  • Those double yellow peonies are from Trader Joes – my favorite place to buy fresh flowers!!
  • And finally, the full recipe is just below. Enjoy!!

Lemon Meringue Pie

The perfect spring time dessert

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • For the pie crust:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cups crisco or coconut oil
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp cold water
  • ... ... ...
  • For the Lemon Filling:
  • 5 egg yolks whisked
  • 1 1/3 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter optional
  • ... ... ...
  • For the meringue:
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. To make the pie crust:

  2. Combine the flour and crisco (or firm coconut oil) in a large mixing bowl and mix until a clumpy dough begins to form. Add in a dash of salt and the baking powder and stir together.

  3. Make a hole in the center and pour in the egg, apple cider vinegar and 3 tablespoons. Whisk outward to begin mixing the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Once that is mixed in well, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of cold water and mix until a ball of dough is formed and stays together. Remove from bowl and press together with hands as needed.

  4. Divide the dough into 4 sections. Using a rolling pin, roll out one section of dough over a floured surface just larger than your pie dish. fold in half, lay over pie dish and unfold to cover. Press the bottom down and pinch the sides up around the entire pie dish. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom and sides and the back of the fork to press down the pinched edges. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (if broiling the meringue) or set aside (if baking the meringue) *Leftover crust can be flattened on parchment paper, wrapped up and stored in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.

  5. To make the lemon filling:

  6. Measure out all ingredients first. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk the water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a saucepan over medium heat. Watch for the mixture to begin thickening and bubbling (about 5-7 minutes) Once thickened, whisk again and reduce heat to low.

  7. Slowly pour a few spoonfuls of warm lemon mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Then add the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan while whisking constantly. Turn heat back to medium. Cook until the mixture is thick and big bubbles begin forming. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in butter, if using. Pour filling into the pie dish and set aside for just a minute while you make the meringue.

  8. To make the classic meringue:

  9. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium speed for 1 minute, then increase to high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and salt, then continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue on top of filling covering all the way to the edges. (I only used half of the recipe; the amount of meringue is totally by preference) Use a spatula or back of a spoon to create decorative peaks.

  10. To finish the pie:

  11. If you baked the pie crust earlier, place the pie under the broiler and watch closely for the meringue to begin to brown. It will only need to be under the broiler for 2-4 minutes.

  12. If you did not bake the pie crust earlier, place the pie in a 350 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Watch closely towards the end to avoid too much browning or burning the meringue.

  13. Once fully baked, remove the pie from the oven and let it cool to room temperature while sitting on a wire rack. Then transfer to the fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Keep covered in the refrigerator and enjoy within 1-3 days.

Recipe Notes

Tips

  • Set up stations and measure out ingredients ahead of time to make the baking process easier.
  • Be sure to make the meringue right away so the lemon filling is still warm when you add it on top. This will help to keep the filling separate from the meringue.
  • Leftover pie crust can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to date the package you store it in. 

Have a beautiful day!

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