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Lemon meringue pie

November 17, 2004

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Philadelphia pastry chef Elizabeth Goodfellow took the Quaker dish of lemon custard and turned it into a pie in the early 1800s. To serve this on Thanksgiving, make the crust and lemon filling the day before. Add the snowy meringue peaks on the holiday morning, browning the pie when the turkey comes out of the oven.

Makes one 9-inch pie

FOR THE CRUST

1 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

3 tablespoons ice-cold water

Extra flour (for rolling)

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a 9-inch pie pan.

2. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (if you have one), mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and shortening and beat over medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the cold water and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Pat it into a ball and flatten it into a disk. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick. Pick the dough up onto the rolling pin and gently ease it into the pie pan. Trim the edges, roll them under to make a neat hem, and crimp the edges all around to make a border. Pierce the dough with a fork. Cover it with parchment paper and fill it with metal pie weights or beans.

4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden brown. Remove the paper or weights and let the crust cool.

FOR THE FILLING

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)

1 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup water

5 tablespoons butter, cut up

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

1. In a saucepan off the heat, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in yolks, one at a time. Add lemon juice and water.

2. Set the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until it starts to bubble and is thick enough to pile on top of itself. Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon rind.

3. Pour the custard into the pie crust, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until the custard sets.

FOR THE MERINGUE

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup water

4 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar, and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns clear and thick. Set it aside to cool.

3. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, combine the whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and sugar. Start beating until the whites are foamy. Add the cooled cornstarch mixture and continue beating until the meringue forms peaks that stand up and then bend slightly. They should be firmer than softly beaten whites, but not quite stiff.

4. With a rubber spatula, spread the meringue on the custard, sealing it right to the edge of the crust. Make small peaks with the spatula.

5. Bake the pie for 10 minutes or until the peaks are golden. Cool for 30 minutes. Cut into wedges with a sharp knife dipped it into hot water between cuts.

Adapted from Nashoba Brook Bakery