Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lemon Meringue Pie with homemade crust


Ever since I was a teenager, I've had this obsession with making lemon meringue pie, and making flaky pie crust. My "other mother", affectionately known as "Momma 2", was instrumental in my obsession. I think a lot of teenagers have "other mothers"... you know, the kind you can go talk to when you feel like your own mom is speaking a foreign language. "Momma 2", also known as Cheryl (Serago) Barclay, interpreted that language for me, and helped me to understand why routine, responsibility, and continued education were so important. She was also my introduction to the wonderful world of Greek cuisine.

Cheryl would pay me to clean her home, as well as to babysit her 3 kids now and then. What I loved most though is her letting me use her kitchen to experiment in. She'd pull out all her cookie recipes at Christmas time and let me make them all for her- I was in heaven! My favorites were the Birds Nest cookies with the red or green cream cheese filling...

But during a summer back about 1981, she asked me to make her a lemon meringue pie. I was excited to make a pie, but I I had never made a lemon one before. So I poured over recipe books... back then of course there was no such thing as the internet to quickly pop up a recipe. After all the searching, I paired 2 recipes together, in part because of available ingredients in the cupboard, and my love for a lot of lemon.

I still keep in touch with my "Momma 2", Cheryl, to this day. She was a guiding force that always encouraged me to "think down the road" before I made any rash decisions in my life. I haven't seen her in awhile, but when I do, I think I'll have to make her this pie. I think everyone needs a Momma 2 to make a pie for...

In my opinion, a flaky pie crust is key to an amazing pie. I haven't found one as simple, and as flavorful, as Pate Brisee. You can try all sorts of tricks and a million ingredients to get a flaky crust, but for me nothing does it better than good ol' unsalted pure butter. Although the recipe shown below uses a food processor, I love to make it by hand. I use a an old fashioned pastry blender, sturdy bowl, and my hands. I absolutely love the feel of pie dough!

Another thing that I prefer, is to add a small amount of HOT simple syrup to my meringue. While I will not guarantee that it will pasteurize your egg whites, it does give me a little comfort knowing that between that and the oven browning of the meringue, more of it is cooked than not.



Pie Crust
(as found on MarthaStewart.com)

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add cubed butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Using 1/2 of the dough, roll out on floured surface and place in pie pan, fluting edges as you desire. Dock dough (prick with fork on bottom portion) Place a sheet of foil in pan over dough, and place pie weights or smaller pan on top. Place in 375 degree oven and blind bake for about 25 minutes, until crust is light golden brown and cooked thoroughly. Let cool.



Lemon Filling


1/3 c cornstarch
1-1/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 c cold water
4 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
1/2 c lemon juice (approx 3-4 lemons)
Zest of all juiced lemons
3 Tbs unsalted butter

In small saucepan combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, and cold water. Over medium heat, while stirring constantly, bring to a slight boil. Turn down heat to low and cook until mixture is slightly clear and thick. Add lemon juice, cooking for another minute. Remove from heat.

Remove one cup of the cooked mixture, and add to egg yolks while whisking quickly, to temper the eggs so they do not 'cook'. Return yolk mixture to the saucepan, and continue cooking on low for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and butter. Set aside and let cool.


Meringue

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 c HOT simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until sugar dissolves)
3 tablespoons sugar

Beat the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add the cream of tartar and sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until firm peaks form but are not dry. Then gradually add the hot simple syrup until peaks stand on own and do not fall.

To assemble: Pour lemon filling in cooked crust. Take 1/3 of meringue and completely cover lemon filling, completely covering, sealing filling to edges of crust. With remaining meringue, using a pastry bag (or spoon) make decorative peaks over entire surface of pie.

Place in 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, watching carefully, until meringue is nicely and evenly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack. Pie is best served when cold.

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26 comments:

Elra said...

Superb! I love lemon meringue pie!

Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

This is my absolute favourite pie! I could lick the screen...

Patsyk said...

what a gorgeous pie! (and lovely memories, too!)

Sara said...

I use that same pie crust recipe! This looks delicious, my family loves lemon meringue.

Stacey Snacks said...

Lovely photo montages, miss!
and the pie aint too bad looking either!

Momm2 said...

From the rebellious young teenager I met many many years ago to the beautiful woman, mom, and wife you've become, I am very proud to be your Momma2!! Yes, you still owe me a pie! Thank you for the wonderful words, thoughts, and memories!! Always your, Momma2

Cate O'Malley said...

Can't decide which picture I like better - the first one from the top or the last one showing the cut - looks delicious!

Cha Cha said...

That is the most gorgeous pie ever! You've totally made my mouth water. And such sweet words about Momma 2 - I'm so glad you have such a wonderful woman in your life!

Maris said...

Your "other mother" sounds like my kind of cook! Cookies, pies and homemade crusts - good lady! LOL.

RecipeGirl said...

I've never been all that big on lemon meringue pie... I usually scrape the meringue aside and eat the lemony part. You sure made that meringue purdy though!!

Netts Nook said...

Wow what a perfect Lemon Meringue Pie. Can't wait to try your pie crust.

Liz said...

Oh my gosh, that pie looks so good it doesnt even look REAL! My mouth is watering right now!

Chef Chuck said...

WoW, This look great! Lemon is my fav!
Nice photo display!

PheMom said...

This looks just wonderful! Are you sending it in to You Want Pies With That? (you should!).

The Food Hunter said...

That looks awesome. Can I come by tonight for a slice?

suz said...

What a beautiful pie, and lemon meringue is high up on my list of best flavors ever. Thanks for sharing your great story as well.

Jen H said...

What a gorgeous pie! Your meringue look perfect and such a fabulous story to go along with it.

Bakerella said...

Wow! That looks great. Every part of it.

Kate said...

Your presentation is gorgeous! My meringue never turns out that beautiful. Sure it takes great too!

Si said...

beautiful pie! I love the idea of piping the meringue. I've never had great luck with meringue...I'm trying yours. thanks for the recipe.

Madam Chow said...

Beautiful. The first pie I ever made was a lemon meringue pie!

Maris said...

This looks SO amazingly good!

marianne.moen said...

Made the pie but was runny. Had to use a spoon like eating soup. Sad because it was so delicious. Followed receipt exactly.
Meringue also shrunk more than usual. Read that it is best to spread meringue on while pie is still hot but none the less, followed your receipt exactly.
Help!. Thanks

LaDue & Crew said...

@marianne sorry to hear :( Experience tells me a few things. It could be old cornstarch, not cooked long enough, or too much liquid. Sometimes even if an extra TBS of water or juice accidentally sneaks in, it would be enough to have that happen. Hopefully, you won't be discouraged enough to try again. Thanks for stopping by ;)

Kathryn Vail said...

I followed the recipe exactly as well and got the same results. Runny pie. It tasted good but had to be eaten with a spoon like soup....

LaDue & Crew said...

Kathryn, did you cook the clear mixture until thick, prior to removing from the heat? Also, I live in Phoenix, a much dryer climate and different elevation level. You may have to compensate by adding slightly less liquid, or a teaspoon more cornstarch. But, so long as you cook the mixture until it is thick before you remove from heat, then it will always set up fine. You may need to increase your cooking time because of your location.