Week 21: a lemon meringue pie worth photographing

No kidding, right? That is one pretty pie – and thank goodness, after the sad disaster of the rum cream pie. I deserved a pie that was as rewarding to look at as it was to eat. There was some serious height on this pie, and I am happy to report that the lemon filling was puckery and smooth. I had not ever made a lemon meringue pie with the usual cornstarch-based filling. In the end I’m not sure that I was all that into the texture of the filling. It’s a little too much like jello’s homemade cousin for me. Next time (and trust me, there will be a next time for this one) I am going to stick to my favourite lemon cream recipe and spread the meringue all over that instead. I think that would make this pie perfect.

Here’s the recipe I made this time though, which I recommend if you like a traditional style filling. Thank you Martha. You have redeemed yourself and I think I forgive you for the sad bad pie that happened to me the last time I trusted you. We can be friends again.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest plus 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (4 lemons)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
4 egg yolks (keep whites for the meringue)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 more egg whites (for total of 8)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Make my usual crust, as instructed here. Preheat the oven to 375. Line the shell with parchment and fill with beans. Bake about 15 minutes and then remove the beans and parchment. Bake another 15 minutes until the crust is golden. Let cool completely on a rack.
2. Combine the cornstarch, sugar, zest and salt in a saucepan. Whisk in the water and cook over medium heat until it is bubbling and thick – about 2 minutes after it starts boiling.
3. Whisk the yolks in a medium bowl. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the eggs a little at a time so as not to scramble them, whisking all the time. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook until it comes back to the boil. Take off heat and stir in lemon juice. Wait for it to cool slightly and then whisk in the butter, one tbsp at a time. Let the filling cool.
4. Pour the filling into the crust and press plastic wrap right onto the surface. Chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours until firm.
5. Now make the meringue. Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed in a stand mixer until peaks form. Increase the speed and gradually add the sugar until it is all in and the meringue is glossy. Whisk in vanilla.
6. Pile it all onto the pie even though you think this is a crazy amount of meringue. (Giggling as you do it sort of helps here). Make it look decoratively swooped and peaked. Use a torch to brown the peaks or else put it under a broiler in the oven but watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn.
7. Slice.

Blue ribbon for Most Photogenic Meringue


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