Friday, July 8, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie - Sweets for a Saturday

I'm posting this yummy lemon meringue pie recipe as part of Sweet as Sugar's Sweets for a Saturday dessert round up. If you haven't check it out before - you must! It's a sweets lover's dream!

Now, about this pie. I must say, I was always intimidated by the though of baking a lemon meringue pie. I'd heard horror stories from my aunts (who always made them for holidays) about meringue falling flat or burning up in the oven, filling that never set, etc. But given our overabundance of lemons, I figured I'd give it a shot. As you can see from the above, it came out great. Perfectly lofted, browned meringue and a bright, delicious lemon custard. And it really wasn't that hard!

I started with this recipe as the base and made my own little tweaks along the way to lower the sugar a bit, up the lemoniness and work with ingredients I had. I've also added my tip for getting that lofty meringue to the directions (it's pretty "cool"!). The result is a bright, not-to-sweet lemon filling with a light, airy topping. It's really a wonderful summer dessert.

Lemon Meringue Pie
1 homemade flaky pie crust
1 cup dried beans (not for eating - just for weighting the pie crust down)
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
zest from 3 lemons
2 Tbsp. salted butter
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll pie crust out and place in a 9" pie pan. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and top with 1 cup dried beans (this will keep the crust from puffing up). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and beans, and continue baking for 8-10 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside while you make the filling and meringue.
Turn the oven down to 350°F.
Place a clean metal mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer.
To make filling, mix 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add lemon juice, zest and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, place egg yolks in a small bowl and beat. Once sugar mixture is boiling, slowly pour a little of it into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Continue pouring and beating until about 1/2 of the sugar mixture has been added to the eggs. Pour this back into the saucepan and beat vigourously while bringing the mixture back to a boil. Cook until mixture is thick like pudding. Turn off heat and cover filling to keep it hot.
Take out the bowl and beaters you put in the freezer before. Add egg whites to the bowl. Start beating on medium speed. Slowly add sugar and continue beating. (It should take about a minute to add all the sugar.) Continue beating until egg whites are fluffy and form stiff peaks when you pull the beaters out. (This takes a while - don't give up!)
Pour the hot filling mixture into the baked pie crust.
Immediately spread the meringue over the top, making sure it touches all sides of the crust (it will form a seal this way).
Bake pie at 350°F (lower than what you baked the crust at!) or until meringue is lighly browned.
Cool completely before serving.