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Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie

My husband’s favorite pie is lemon meringue – and although I don’t make them as often as I should, I’m occasionally inspired to make a tart, billowy-topped pie. Because it will make him happy, yes, but also because I love the look of it – especially when I get to load a mountain of meringue on top. When we lived in Vancouver, I loved walking past the lemon meringue pies at the Granville Island Market – and I always forget how easy they are to make at home.

I referred to one of my favorite bakers – Anna Olson – for a classic recipe. Mike loves a graham crust, or you could blind bake a pastry shell before filling it, topping it, and then running it under the heat to brown that cloud of meringue. Watch it closely – sugary meringue burns quickly!

Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie

adapted from Anna Olson of Food Network Canada

pastry for a single crust pie (or a graham crust)

Filling:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
5 Tbsp. cornstarch
5 large egg yolks
pinch salt
the finely grated zest or a lemon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter

Meringue:
5 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (optional – I’ve done without and it works)
5 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

If you’re using a pastry crust, blind bake it after fitting it into your pie plate, or bake a graham crust at 350F for 5-7 minutes, until pale golden.

To make the filling, whisk the sugar, water, and cornstarch in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks and salt and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until the filling bubbles and becomes glossy and thick. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and butter until butter melts. Pour immediately into the cooled pie shell and let cool 15 minutes. Chill completely before finishing with meringue.

To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar in a clean stainless steel or glass bowl until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, a bit at a time, beating constantly, until stiff peaks form. Whisk in cornstarch and dollop over chilled lemon filling. Swirl the top and bake for 5-10 minutes, just until meringue browns lightly. Cool before serving. Serves 8-10.

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