Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie--Classic Delicacy

Lemon meringue pie comes to my mind always when the weather gets hot. The sourness of the filling and the lightness of the meringue topping make it a wonderful spring dessert. I have eaten lemon meringue pies several times but, surprisingly, never made one myself. I often make lemon desserts or tarts but not this pie.

The other day I was invited to a friend for dinner. His cook--yes, he has his private cook, prepared a lemon meringue pie for dessert. And it was delicious. I am very fastidious when it comes to crust--it should be very delicate and not too sweet--but I must admit that his was absolutely perfect. Too full after the whole feast I was able to try only a small piece of the pie. On the next day I regretted it very much and dreamed about another piece of lemon pie to go with my afternoon coffee. Well, then there was the only solution--to make it myself.

Next time I visit my friend I will ask his cook for his recipe for the crust but meanwhile I drew on my own recipe, which I use for all kind of pies and savory tarts. It does not contain eggs, which I like as there are many already in the filling. And of course I made it in a blender, which speeds up the whole process. For the filling I used juice and peel from fresh organic lemons and organic eggs. In no time my lemon meringue pie was ready.

Lemon Meringue Pie
(For a 9-inch baking pan)

The crust

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) sweet unsalted butter,
1/4 cup vegetable shortening,
1 and 1/3 cup all purpose unbleached flour,
1/2 tsp salt,
1 tsp sugar,
3 tbsp ice cold water.

1. Cut butter and shortening into smaller pieces and place in a food processor. Add flour, salt, and sugar. Run a mixer until the mix turns into crumbles.
2. Add 2-3 tbsp ice cold water and pulse the mixer until the crumbles turn into a smooth dough. Stop right after.
3. Roll the dough on a working surface slightly dusted with flour to about 10-inch diameter. Using a rolling pin transfer a dough to the form. Push gently, form edges, and let it cool down for at least half an hour or overnight.
4. Bake at 370 F for about 30-35 minutes until crust becomes gold. When the crust bakes prepare lemon filling.

Lemon Filling

1/2 cup sugar,
1/2 cup corn starch,
1 and 1/2 cup water,
1 tbsp unsalted butter,
four eggs (separate yolks from whites),
1/2 cup lemon juice (from about four medium lemons),
peel from one lemon.

1. Put sugar and corn starch in a medium pot. Mix them together. Add water and mix again until you obtain a smooth paste. Cook it until it becomes thick and starts to bubble.
2. Remove from the heat, beat the yolks slightly with a fork and add them gradually to the mixture. Return it to the heat, bring the mixture to boil, and remove from the heat again.
3. Add gradually lemon peel and lemon juice. Mix well.

4. Transfer the mixture onto the already baked pie crust.


4 egg whites,
1/2 tsp vanilla,
1/2 cup sugar.

1. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff but not dry. Add sugar in three steps while beating continuously for about 2 minutes between each sugar addition.
2. Add vanilla essence, mix, and pour over the pie with the filling.
3. Bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes, or until the meringue becomes slightly brown.

Let the pie cool and serve it.