Lemon Meringue Pie is such an American pie to love for a Sicilian immigrant that grew up eating cannoli and other treats home-made by his mom and sisters. Treats usually made with their own homemade ricotta. In recent years it became a tradition at Thanksgiving for one of my best friends to make my dad “his pie”.
He would start to ask me about it right after Halloween. He would remind me, “Tell Valerie I’m waiting for my pie. Tell her not to forget to make one this year.” I would feel a little embarrassed to tell her his message but she didn’t seem to mind one bit. She had a special bond with my dad and it was definitely created over her spoiling him every year with “his pie”. So there was never a need for me to bake his pie.
These past weeks leading up to his birthday, I find myself baking a lemon meringue pie over and over again. Now that my dad has passed away, I find myself regretting never having baked one myself for him. Don’t get me wrong. I baked for him. I baked for him almost every day. It seems I lived these last few years for baking for my dad. I longed to see his eyes light up with each new bread and cake. I dreamed of fattening him up a little and having him feel better. I secretly wished my baking would keep him around a just a little longer.
Lemon Meringue Pie
He would love this pie. I could just see his eyes brighten and hear him say with feigned incredulity, “You made this?” I know he knew just well that I made what I was sharing with him. But it would make me feel like a kid again for a moment. Making him feeling proud over something I accomplished made me feel good. Seeing my dad gush over my baking…I lived for those moments these last few years. Because my dad was the ultimate foodie. He loved good food and he loved great baking. Even though these last years were hell for him and he wasn’t supposed to eat what he did. He took risks and he lived as he wanted to live.
As I approached my 3rd year blogging, I had doubts if I wanted to continue to post here. After my dad passed, those doubts increased. I wondered what was the point to keep sharing here. Without my dad as my biggest fan, what was this baking and blogging really for? But I knew I couldn’t give up my blog. I love the friendships I’ve made through this baking journey. I love trying new recipes and my kids would be pretty upset if I hung up my apron strings.
I’m thinking of my dad today and wish he was still here with us to enjoy his birthday with his favorite pie. Happy Birthday, daddy. This pie is for you!
My son was disappointed I was baking Lemon Meringue’s these days. Here’s what he said when he saw this photo today while I was putting together this post. “Why did you make another lemon pie, mommy? You should bake a Key Lime Pie!”
HOW TO MAKE LEMON MERINGUE PIE?
- Bake the pie crust and allow it to cool down.
- Make the lemon curd filling by cooking together water, cornstarch, lemon juice, sugar, zest until it thickens. Add this a bit at time to the egg yolks so you are tempering them and cook until it’s thick and creamy. Then add in the butter and lemon zest.
- Pour filling in crust.
- Prepare meringue topping by whipping together egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar until stiff peaks form. Next, spread the meringue on top of the filling and bake until golden brown.
- Let it cool down to room temperature.
- Important final step is letting it chill in the fridge.
HOW DO YOU KEEP EASY LEMON MERINGUE PIE RECIPE FROM GETTING SOGGY?
Nothing ruins a pie quicker than a soggy crust. You want it to be crisp and flaky. The single most important thing you can do is to blind bake the pie crust. This simply means pre-baking the crust without any filling, until it’s golden brown. Doing this ensures the crust stays crisp when a filling (that requires no baking) is added to it.
HOW DO YOU KEEP BEST LEMON MERINGUE PIE FROM WEEPING?
A pie that is “weeping” simply means a watery layer shows up between the meringue and the filling. That will most likely occur when the meringue is unstable. Which could mean it has too much moisture or it was overcooked.
I baked quite a lot of pies and these are some suggestions:
- Avoid high humidity days! If you can avoid making it on a rainy and humid day, do it! Any extra moisture will cause a droopy meringue.
- Don’t over-bake the meringue– If you over bake the meringue you’ll get some moisture beads and also some shrinking of the meringue.
- Make sure sugar has fully dissolved– Don’t rush the sugar part, as it will become grainy and also could cause the meringue to weep. .
- Don’t let the lemon filling cool down too much– It’s key to keep the lemon filling warm. The warms assists in keeping the 2 layers together and prevent shrinking and also separation.
- Spread meringue all the way to edge– Be sure to get the meringue all the way to the edge. This step also helps prevent any shrinkage.
- Make sure there are NO egg yolks–You can not even have a drop of egg yolk in the egg whites or you won’t be able to whip up the meringue.
- Mixing bowl and mixer attachments should be clean- Take care to have your mixer and the attachments super clean. If any residue on it, it will cause problems in forming those gorgeous stiff peaks.
Lemon Meringue Pie Tips:
It’s hard to believe that I was never a big lemon meringue pie fan. I would taste a bite and would prefer usually any thing else that was available. This pie is wonderful and one I can’t pass up. I slightly adapted a recipe that I found in our paper from the Star Tribune. It was adapted from the Joy of Cooking. I used my favorite pie crust.
You can use whatever pie crust recipe you love the most or use a ready made crust. This pie is best served the day it’s made. Keep the pie in the refrigerator after you cool it completely on the rack. To help get nice clean slices, dip your very sharp knife in hot water before slicing. Making this pie takes a little organization and patience. You can’t dump all the egg yolks into the filling or you’ll have one curdled mess. Also when you make the meringue, a little patience is necessary. Don’t rush and dump all the sugar in the mixer. It’s essential to slowly add the sugar bit by bit so it will dissolve all the way. A little planning and patience is all you need to bake the most incredible Lemon Meringue Pie.
Lemon Meringue Pie
- Homemade or use your favorite pre-made pie crust for 9-in. pie
- 2 to 3 tsp. grated lemon zest from 2 lemons
- 1/2 c. strained lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/3 c. cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter in small pieces
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place dough in pie plate and crimp edges as desired. Prick dough several times with a fork. Place a piece of aluminum foil (or parchment paper)onto the dough and pour in about a cup of dried beans (this stops the crust from bulging while it bakes); bake for 7 minutes.
- Remove foil and beans and continue baking for 5-10 more minutes. Place crust on wire rack to cool. Reduce oven to 350 degrees.
- Using your smallest pot , combine the cornstarch and water. Stirring briskly, bring to a boil until just translucent. Do not overcook. Scrape paste into a small bowl and cover. Set aside.
- Grate the zest from two lemons to measure 2 to 3 teaspoons. Squeeze lemons to make ½ cup juice. Separate eggs, placing yolks in a small bowl. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar and cornstarch paste. Stir constantly over medium heat. The mixture will become very thick; about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Whisk lemon juice into the egg yolks. Carefully add a spoonful of the hot filling to the yolks, immediately whisking to combine. Repeat with 2 more spoonfuls. Then, whisking constantly, slowly pour the egg yolk mixture back into the filling. Return to medium heat and cook until very thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Mix egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until very frothy, about a minute. Slowly begin adding the sugar, a spoonful at a time. It should take you about 2 minutes to add all the sugar. Increase speed and continue beating until whites hold stiff peaks.
- Pour filling into the pie shell.
- Spoon dollops of meringue around the edge, making sure there it goes right to the edge of the crust (no gaps).
- Pile the remaining meringue onto the filling. With the back of the spoon, create a few wisps.
- Bake pie for 15 to 20 minutes, or until meringue is light brown. Keep an eye on the pie. You don’t want it to get too brown. Let pie cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate and when ready to slice, dip a sharp knife in hot water.