Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie
I am taking a bit of time to recover and spend time with the best thing we’ve cooked up yet. Please enjoy posts prepared ahead of time over the next few weeks. I will be back in the kitchen again soon!
One of my favorite ways to celebrate the coming of Spring is with lemons. Even just smelling a fresh lemon adds a pep to my step and makes me feel more awake and alive. A gift of home grown Meyer lemons and sweet limes from my gardening grandfather, gave me reason to celebrate spring by breaking out the sugar and flour and whipping up a lovely lemon pie.
Last fall I baked a lemon chess pie, with a thick lemony filling and flaky crust. This time around I decided to balance out the filling with a fluffy meringue.
Meyer lemons are often lost in sweet baked goods, lacking acidity they are easily overwhelmed by sugar. However, with a judicious hand the natural lemon sweetness can be coaxed out of the juice with marvelous results. Now some meringue pies have a stand-up-and-salute filling, firm and almost jello-like in texture. This pie is not one of those. Instead, the filling is more of a soft custard- lightly sweetened and full of fragrant Meyer lemon flavors. When combined with a pillowy meringue topping the blend of textures and tastes creates a lemon-lover’s delight. One slice will have you looking for daffodils and feeling like Spring is on its way.
Pastry Dough for a single-crust 9- to 10-inch pie
Raw rice or pie weights for weighting shell
1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
3 Tablespoons freshly grated Meyer lemon zest
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
Make Pie Shell
Lightly flour a flat surface and roll out the pie dough into a 13-inch circle, approximately 1/8th inch thick. Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the edges of the dough, leaving only 1/2 inch overhang, and then crimp the edge. Use a fork to prick the shell all over, and then chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line the pie shell with wax paper and fill with rice or pie weights. Bake shell in middle of oven 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove paper and rice and continue to bake the shell until golden, about 12 minutes more. Cool the shell in pie plate on a rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
Place a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in the saucepan. Slowly whisk in the water and milk until the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Continue to stir the mixture frequently until the milk is warmed and small bubbles begin to form at the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. In a slow stream pour about 1 cup of the warmed milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Then whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the milk in the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a low simmer, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest until the butter is melted. Let the filling cool slightly, transfer to a bowl, and cover the surface of the filling with plastic wrap.
Make the Meringue
In a clean bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt, until the egg whites hold soft peaks. With the beaters still going, beat in the sugar in a slow stream. Beat until the meringue just begins to hold stiff peaks.
Pour the lemon filling into the pie shell and gently spread the meringue on top of the filling, covering the filling completely to the edge of the pie shell. Pull the meringue up into peaks with a spoon or spatula. Place the pie in the middle of the oven and bake until the meringue is golden, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool. Then place the pie in the fridge to chill for 4 hours, and up to overnight. The filling will firm up slightly when chilled.