Lemon Meringue Pie
This grand old American dessert is enormously popular down South for its clear, true sweetness (saved by the edginess of lemon) and its masterful contrast of textures. And somehow it is showstopping (think beauty pageant) and homey (think Aunt Bee) simultaneously.
- For pie
- Pastry dough
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- For meringue
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
Preparation time 50mins
Cooking time 50mins
Make pie shell:
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate (4-cup capacity). Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then crimp decoratively. Lightly prick shell all over with a fork, then chill 30 minutes.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil and bake shell until bottom and side are golden, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350°F.
Whisk together yolks in a small bowl.
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Gradually add water and milk, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently as mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and gradually whisk about 1 cup milk mixture into yolks, then whisk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Add lemon zest and juice and simmer, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter until incorporated. Cover surface with wax paper to keep hot.
Beat whites with cream of tartar and salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to high and add superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until meringue just holds stiff, glossy peaks.
Assemble and bake pie:
Pour hot filling into warm pie shell and gently shake to smooth top. Spread meringue decoratively over hot filling, covering filling completely.
Immediately bake until meringue is golden-brown, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a rack, 2 to 3 hours. Cut with a serrated knife dipped in cold water.
It is the nature of meringue pies to “weep” liquid after cooling. If you want to lessen the amount of liquid that the meringue “weeps” after cooling, heat 6 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking, until thick and translucent, about 2 minutes. After all of superfine sugar has been added to meringue, stir cornstarch mixture, then add, 1 tablespoon at a time, to meringue, beating until incorporated.
Pie shell can be baked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then kept, loosely covered, at room temperature.
Lemon meringue pie is best the day it is made but keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days.