Monday, June 21, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

A good lemon meringue pie starts with good eggs. Our farm-raised eggs give this pie its vibrant yellow color.

This pie is one of my husband's absolute favorite desserts and pie of any type is one of my absolute favorite breakfasts. In first grade I mortified my mother when I proudly announced for 'show-and-tell' that I had eaten pie for breakfast.

To make the pie crust:
Mix 1 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 t. salt. Cut in 1/2 c. lard, or a mixture of vegetable shortening and butter. (This is the only reason why I don't have pie every day!) Add cold water (3-4 T.) with a few drops of lemon juice added. The amount of water needed can vary. Add just till it holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer for an hour or the fridge for several hours to overnight. This is the key step to a great pie crust. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust, fit into dish, trim and flute edge (or roll and tuck in uneven edge). Prick crust all over with a fork then bake until browned on bottom and done (15 minutes or so). Keep an eye on the baking crust -don't burn it but also make sure its done -an underdone pie crust is not tasty. If it puffs up while baking, poke it with a fork to deflate the bubble or push down gently with a pot holder. OR line the unbaked crust with foil and fill it with pie weights (I use navy beans I keep in a bag for just such a purpose), bake for 10-12 minutes, remove foil and weights and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. If your dough is wettish and soft this is the recommended way to bake it or the sides will slip down and the pie crust will not hold the filling which is very depressing.

To make the lemon filling, combine in top of double boiler:
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. salt
Add 2 1/4 c. boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook over boiling water while stirring until smooth and thickened. Cover and cook 15 minutes.
Beat 3 egg yolks and 1/2 c. sugar until color lightens. Mix in a spoonful of cooked mixture to egg-sugar mix. Repeat several times then add lightened egg-mixture to filling and stir well. Cover and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and add:
2 T. butter
1/3 c. lemon juice
Mix well. Set aside to make meringue.
Beat with wire whisk or until frothy:
3 egg whites
1/4 t. cream of tartar
Slowly add 1/4 c. powdered sugar while beating, and a few drops of vanilla. Beat until soft peaks form but do not over beat and dry out. Pour lemon filling into pie crust, then gently spread meringue over filling. Use back of a spoon to form peaks by pressing and lifting spoon on top of meringue. Bake 325 degrees until meringue just browns, about 8 minutes or so. Watch carefully as the peaks can burn quite easily. When it looks perfect, remove from oven and cool completely.

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