Lemon Meringue Pie

 

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This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was the classic Lemon Meringue Pie, chosen by Jen at The Canadian Baker. As beloved a dessert as it is, I am not a fan of lemon unless it is squeezed into my water. I was contemplating foregoing this month, but then my sister told me that she would be stopping by for a visit, and she loves a good lemon meringue pie. Finally, a reason to make the pie!

I have never made a lemon meringue (or any type of meringue) pie before, so I had no preconceived notions about what to expect. I had, however, been hearing some rumblings of problems with this pie from other Daring Bakers who had made it early in the month. Having no experience with lemon meringue pie, I was becoming a little apprehensive. However, I forged ahead and went through with the recipe as it was written. I am happy to report that I had no problems with the pie. Aside from the crust shrinking on one side (“There was shrinkage!” – for all of you Seinfeld fans), the lemon curd came together perfectly and the meringue was beautiful. My sister and her friends all loved the pie and said it was wonderful.

To see how the rest of the Daring Bakers fared with the pie, check out the Blogroll.

 

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I actually think this was the best job I’ve done at preparing pie crust (I can usually never get it that smooth!) and I wanted to document it, so here’s a little tooting of my own horn:

 

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My sister, Lauren and her (our) friend, Alanna, enjoying their pie (I told you girls you would make the blog!):

 

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Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch pie

For the Crust:
¾ cup cold butter; cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup butter
¾ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar


For the Crust
:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch. Cut a circle about 2 inches larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch. Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.