There's nothing difficult about making a lemon meringue pie, but there is a whole lot of learning that comes from baking one. I decided to share with Maddie her Great Grandma Helen's (my Mom) recipe and get her started on a love for baking like it did for me. Now, understandably the techniques were over her head, but the point of sharing a long time tradition is what I wanted her to have today.
I remember watching my mother bake this pie and couldn't wait until she started turning over "duties" to me. First it was making the pie crust and learning to blind bake. Blind baking a pie crust is not difficult, but if you're going to make any cream pies, getting it right is a must.
When I was tall enough, I got to make the filling...that luscious, tart lemony pudding that the pillows of meringue set upon. Stirring the sugar, cornstarch and water and watching how the mixture thickened readying for the next step of tempering the eggs. This step is a little tricky, but getting it right is important or you'll end up with scrambled eggs!
Today, I let Maddie help roll out the pie dough and beat the meringue. She's not tall enough to be at the stove yet to make the filling, but one day, she will and I'll be there to guide her, just like Mom did with me. However, Maddie got two things right today...
Helen's Lemon Meringue Pie
Perfect Pie Dough
Heat oven to 450F-degrees. Roll the pie dough and place in a 9-inch pie plate; flute the edges. Take a fork and prick the surface and around the sides. Add a piece of aluminum foil to the center as a weight (or you can use put a piece of parchment over the surface and fill with dried beans or pie weights.) Place pie plate on a baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 5 to 6 minutes until golden brown.
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
Zest of 1 lemon (about 2 T)
2 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
2-3 T pie filling enhancer (optional, but helps the filling set)
In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar, flour and cornstarch together. Slowly add the water, stirring constantly place over medium heat. When mixture thickens and starts to bubble, remove from the heat and add about a tablespoon at a time to the lightly beaten egg yolks. Whisk the hot mixture into the eggs, adding a tablespoon at a time until the eggs have adapted to the hot mixture. Pour mixture into the saucepan and return to the heat for another two minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately add the butter and zest. Stir the mixture until the butter melts. Slowly add the lemon juice to the mixture. Pour mixture into the cool pie crust and start the meringue.
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
6 T granulated sugar
My mother chose to make a 4-egg white meringue--she didn't like to skimp! In a large metal or glass bowl, place the 4 egg whites and the cream of tartar. Beat to soft peaks. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well (and I mean well) after each addition. If I was at home, I would have used Baker's Sugar, a super fine sugar, but Erin had granulated sugar, which in reality is what my mother used. Lastly, add the vanilla.
Preheat the oven to 400F-degrees, making sure the oven rack is on the second notch from the bottom. Mound the meringue over top, making sure you cover the filling completely. Take your spatula and add some peaks to the meringue. Place the pie plate on the baking sheet again. Place the pie in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving. Placing the pie in the refrigerator 2 to 4 hours before serving will set the filling.