Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie...

Lemon Meringue Pie with Mike.  

 Randy, a very good friend of mine said his friend Mike wanted to bake a Lemon Meringue Pie with me.   I personally think this is the most difficult pie to make! 

I sort of felt like the warden in a pie prison!  I know I am very particular when it comes to baking...all ingredients measured and set out (mise en place)  and exact measurements...yes EXACT!!!!  This is not cooking where you can throw in what you want.  Your baking might come out if you substitute helter skelter, but if you want to make sure it does consistently, then you need to suck it up and pay close attention!   And even then you may fail because of humidity, temperature of the air, temperature of your ingredients, temperature of your oven and even temperature of your hands!   This is why I like is a challenge:)  We take basic ingredients and transform them. It is like magic!  
Lemons into Lemon curd; egg whites into a billowy meringue - And then there is the pie crust - a challenge in itself....Mike did great...although I am not sure he will ever bake a pie again..

First is the crust which is something that I'm pretty good at.  I am only saying this because I am very proud that I won for best crust at the Chudleigh Apple Pie contest one year…my claim to fame:) We are making this crust a little different by rolling it out on graham cracker crumbs, which I have never done before.

Second is the lemon filling which we are making from scratch...this is THE BEST!!!! But it can be a little tricky.

And then there is the meringue… oh boy…sometimes I think I have got it down and then it fails on me.  Just a little grease in your bowl that you can’t even see, can get it upset and suddenly you have bubbly foam or just liquid!

So let’s give it a go Mike…and turn these lemons into an absolute incredible Lemon Meringue Pie!

Makes one 9-inch pie


  • The Graham Cracker-Coated Pie Shell

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached AP Flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 3–4 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

  • Lemon Filling

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar at first
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2cups cold water
  • large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Meringue Topping

  • 1tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2cup granulated sugar
  • 4large egg whites
  • 1/2teaspoon vanilla extract

Starting with the crust. 

  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. about 4 x 1-second pulses
  2. As you see we use a mixture of shortening (not margarine)  and butter.  Butter adds to the flavour, and shortening, (Crisco)  helps keep it together. 

  3. Start with shortening and toss it in the  flour  ten 1- second pulses.  It should look like a coarse sand or cornmeal.
  4. Scatter very very cold butter pieces on flour  next then cut in with five 1 second pulses. Butter should still be in small pieces…try not to blend it all in. Small pea size butter pieces are what you are trying to get.  

  1. The idea is that when the pie is baking these small pieces will release some steam and this is what adds to the flakiness.  

  2. Turn mixture into medium bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cold water. 

  1. Using a rubber spatula, fold water into mixture; press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together. If dough will not come together, add up to 1 tablespoon more cold water.
  1. Shape dough into ball, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.  Take it out of the fridge and wait about 10-15 mins to sit so it can be rolled.

America’s Test Kitchen is one of my favourite recipe sites and they rolled out the dough sprinkling graham cracker crumbs on the board…so we will try that!
  1. Generously sprinkle work area with 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs. Place dough on work area. Scatter a few more crumbs over dough.   Roll dough from center to edges, turning it into a 9-inch disk, rotating a quarter turn after each stroke and sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top as necessary to coat heavily. Continue to roll to form a 13-inch disk slightly less than 1/8-inch thick.

  2. *****Note- This was the first time I have done this and it was a challenge.  The crust kep tearing.  At first I said I wouldn't do that again but everyone seemed to really like the flavour...

  3. Place dough in 9-inch Pyrex pie pan, letting excess dough drape over pan lip. To fit dough to pan, lift edge of dough with one hand and press dougn in pan bottom with other hand; repeat process around circumferences of pan to ensure dough fits properly and is not stretched. Trim all around…you can use a scissors, 1/2-inch past edge of pan. Tuck 1/2 inch of overhanging dough under so folded edge is flush with lip of pan; press to seal.
  4. Crimping your piecrust - I think that for this type of pie a simple fluted edge is nice as the Meringue really is the show stopper!

  5. For some interesting fluting techniques, click here.
  1. Refrigerate until firm, about 40 minutes, then move to the freezer for 20 minutes.
  2. Press a doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil into pie shell and add the baking weights.

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, heat oven to 400 degrees until crust is firmly set, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until crust is crisp and rich brown in color, about 15-20 minutes longer.

  2. Next up…the Filling
  3. Mix 3/4 cup of the sugar that is listed in the ingredients, pinch of salt, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup (2-3 lemons) lemon juice in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat.

  4. While that is heating up and coming to a simmer,
  5. Whisk together your 6 egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the rest of the sugar and 1/4 cup of cornstarch. Add the 1 tbsp of lemon zest.  

  6. Temper the egg mixture by adding a little of the hot water liquid at a time to the egg mixture (so the eggs don’t become an omelette!!)  This slowly brings the eggs to a good temperature to be able to add them to the water mixture in the pan.  Then over medium heat whisk the egg mixture into the pan. 
  7. It will start to come together …now SMELL IT….YUMMY LEMON!  
  8. Now add the 2 tbsp butter

Now don’t let it cool too much because we want it warm when we add the meringue on top! This keeps it from weeping. Cover with plastic wrap right on the surface in the same pan to keep it hot and prevent skin from forming.. Set aside.

Now Don’t be nervous, it is time for the Meringue!

Mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 1/3 cup water in small saucepan; bring to simmer, whisking occasionally at beginning and more frequently as mixture thickens. This mixture will help prevent the meringue from weeping on the bottom and beading on top.
When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, remove from heat. It will look like vaseline…ughhh!

Let cool while beating egg whites. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/2 cup of sugar together.
Using whisk, beat 4 egg whites and vanilla together then add this to a VERY clean bowl. Mix until frothy then start adding sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time  (let each dissolve a little) ; until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks.

Then add cornstarch (vaseline)  mixture, continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks. (stands up on your finger and has structure) 

****Remove plastic from filling and return to very low heat stirring with spatula during last minute or so of beating meringue (to ensure filling is hot).

Fill cooled pie shell.

Now add the meringue by first dolloping around the edge…I don’t know if that is a word, but it is what I mean hahaha.

You want the meringue to attach to the crust on the inside edge.  I have had pies where the meringue just wants to slide right off and escape!!!! 
Keep dolloping all over the top.

Use a spoon to create peaks all over meringue. 

Bake  in preheated 325 degree oven until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature about 30-45 minutes.....
and the result!

I am a little disappointed in the edge of the crust, so have to practice this new technique with rolling the dough in the graham cracker crumbs...oh well.

I think they liked it...a lot!
Some comments.... " AMAZING pie ...AMAZING meringue and we like the addition of the graham cracker in the crust"

Hope I didn't scare you off baking Mike!

Until we bake again 


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