Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Queen of Pie

Lemon meringue pie is the queen of pie.  Silky, creamy, sweet-tart, lemony filling topped with a crown of snowy white meringue with a hint of beige has no equal.  Finding it in restaurants can be a challenge and with good reason: it's a lot of work to put this together, but the result is worth it.  So try this at home.   
I adapted this recipe from one published years ago in the Los Angeles Times by food writer Winifred Dean.  You'll have about 3/4 cup extra filling left over to enjoy with a spoon in a bowl while you wait for the meringue to brown or to put into a waiting tart shell (if you have those lying around).  Follow the steps exactly (it's not just ingredients but technique as well) and remember, lemon icebox pie is for sissies or people who are either too busy or too easily impressed.
Ingredients:  10 tablespoons cornstarch
                   2-1/4 cups sugar
                   1/2 teaspoon salt
                   3 cups boiling water
                   4 egg yolks, beaten (5 if the eggs are small or medium)
                   1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
                   3 tablespoons butter
                   1-1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (buy a microplaner, it is amazing)
                   1 deep dish baked pie shell
                   meringue (recipe follows)

Combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.  Stir in boiling water until blended; heat and stir until boiling and mixture is clear.  Then whisk for 10 minutes over low heat.  Add a small amount of hot mixture to egg yolks and return all to the pan, stirring until blended.  Cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Add juice, butter, and zest.  Cool to room temperature.  Turn filling into pie shell.  Spread meringue over filling, sealing edges.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes (putting on a cookie sheet makes for easy transport in and out of oven). 

                 4-5 egg whites
                 1/2 heaping teaspoon cream of tartar
                 3/4 cup sugar

Beat until frothy.  Continue beating until soft peaks form.  Slowly add sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.  After spreading meringue to the edges of the pie, take the back of a teaspoon and lightly tap repeatedly in concentric circles to make small decorative swirls.  Watch the time when the meringue is in the oven since these crown-like swirls are the first to to burn if you're not careful. 


1 comment:

  1. Hola Tim!
    Sigh...perusing your site and hopefully using it someday, Crystal and I are sitting in my office at ASU, crashing from our teaching day! No caffeine buzz, no brain power left. Crystal has class, hasn't eaten and I'm going to YOGA. Would rather have one of your German pancakes!
    We really enjoyed your writing and recipes on this site....run into any squirrels lately?
    We love ya! Hi to Marla! See you on Friday, Dixie and Crystal