Lemon Meringue Pie
I’ll begin with a recipe I recently made (or in my opinion absolutely fucking perfected) this past month for my Mother in law's birthday. It’s a lemon meringue pie in which my 9 year old niece described the meringue as “the winter snow melting” and the filling as “the birth of summer” That’s a pretty stellar (and wildly accurate) review if you ask me.
Lemon Meringue pie is pretty easy to make. People are scared of meringue (I can’t spell meringue no matter how many times I type it so thanks autocorrect for the unrelenting assistance, you always have my back) but it’s nothing to be afraid of. I swear. Stay tuned.
This recipe is adapted from allrecipes.com and titled Grandma’s Lemon Meringue Pie and I don’t know who’s grandma made this but god bless her wild ass because she uses a pre-made pie crust and that's a shit ton easier than making one yourself and if the filling is amazing the crust in this recipe should be an after thought and not the star.
Not only is this recipe easy to make but it also costs a whopping total of about $ and that’s if you have to buy everything in the entire recipe, like a whole bag of sugar and an entire box of butter (but honestly, you should probably have those things on hand if you’re on a baking website reading this recipe) and it’s even cheaper if you buy conventional instead of organic (and just tell everyone it’s organic- not that I would or have ever done that personally, that would be dishonest and shameful!)
Anyway, this pie is fast, easy and cheap, just how I like it (there’s a horrible joke somewhere in there but I’ll spare you, for now)
So with no further adue, here it goes:
1 Take your frozen pie shell out of the freezer and bake that sucker per the directions on the sticker.
2 Then when the pie shell is done, take it out and set it aside, now set your oven to 350 degrees. Do it now or if you expect the preparation process to take a while maybe turn the oven off for a bit to save electricity or avoid melting in your tiny, improperly ventilated kitchen. Up to you.
3 Because I hate recipes that don’t include the preparation notes I’m going to add them as we go along, to save you from yelling “Oh, what the fuck?!?!” at your already simmering pan of ingredients when discovering you haven’t zested and juiced your lemons yet and you can’t find the micro-plainer or the hand juicer buried deep in that kitchen gadget drawer you never open.
4 So first, take the butter out of the fridge so it’s not all hard and annoying to work with then take your frozen pie crust out of the freezer and measure all your dry ingredients. The sugar (1 cup and then 6 tbsps. in separate bowls) the flour, cornstarch and salt. Set them aside in some small bowls.
Next measure and set aside the water.
NOW, zest your lemons into a bowl or onto a plate. I use a micro-plainer (it’s why I usually have no skin on the tip of my ring and pinky fingers but it’s a great tool) Zest until you just begin to see the white of the lemon skin then stop. You don’t want all that white shit in your pie. It’s chunky and bitter. Next cut those lemons in half and juice ‘em. (I use a hand juicer because i squeeze a lot of citrus, mostly for cocktails because I drink a lot and because it makes me feel cool, but honestly you can just squeeze those suckers real good and it should suffice) You should have about (—-) cup of lemon juice total when done.
By now, if you’re reading carefully, you’ve probably noticed you need 4 egg whites and 4 egg yolks (which is great because I hate throwing away the white or yolk so I usually save them and then find them in the back of my fridge a week later all hard and congealed like some bad science experiment) So you’ll need to separate the yolks from the whites. (I’m sure there’s a tool for that, but I don’t have one, I can assure you I have every other useless kitchen weapon except that and a corn cobber but there’s a few in my amazon shopping cart currently) Anyway, I crack the egg gently over a super clean bowl (you can’t have any grease or residue on the bowl or your whites won’t fluff later, so double check to make sure it’s clean or just clean your dirty dishes properly and you won’t have to worry) now I catch the whole thing in my hand. Letting the white seep through my fingers into the bowl and holding on to the yolk until it’s free of any white goo. Let it roll back and forth gently in your hands and place it into another bowl. If it breaks while separating it you’re screwed and you need a new egg. You can’t have any yolk in your whites or your meringue will be all fucked up. Use as many eggs as you need to until you get it right. There’s no shame in your game and eggs are hella cheap. Set those egg whites aside so you don’t get any other shit in them. They’re fussy if contaminated.
5 Now, to make lemon filling you’ll whisk together:
1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium sauce pan. (Don’t turn on the flame yet, you’ll burn the sugar right off the bat.)
Now stir in the water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Personally I stir it constantly because I have anxiety but it’s not necessary. Just pay close attention, like don’t go switch over the laundry or scroll instagram and forget it’s coming to a boil because it happens fast.
Once that mixture is boiling pretty good stir in the butter and let it melt, it shouldn’t take long especially if you listened to me and took it out of the fridge like 20 minutes ago.
Now pay attention to this, take your bowl with the egg yolks and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture. That’s right, take a small cup or a measuring cup and dip it into that hot, bubbly mix and try to get as much in it as you can without submerging your hand and melting off your flesh (just kidding, your flesh shouldn’t melt off but it will hurt and you’ll have to stop and run your hand under water while the mix boils and you’ve probably spilled some on the counter or even worse the floor and it will be a mess) So this doesn’t have to be precise but get some in the measuring cup and pour it into the bowl with the yolks and mix it quickly with a fork, then pour the egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture in the sauce pan and mix it all up. Bring it back to a boil if it’s not boiling already and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Grandma lemon pie says it takes about 3-5 minutes but I have no idea what kind of old school super stove she’s working with because it always takes mine about 10 minutes to get thick and you need it to be super thick or it won’t set and it will run all over the place and the crust will get all soggy and it will still taste good but look like a hot mess.
Once it’s thick, like coats the back of a spoon and you’re having to use a rubber spatula to scrape it off the sides of the pan thick then and only then, Remove it from the heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell and let it sit there, uncovered while you make the meringue.
6 Now, to make the ever so terrifying (but actually not scary at all) meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl (don’t use plastic because it won’t work) whip egg whites until foamy, like super foamy, not like half foam with some liquid, foam those bitches well. (I use a stand mixer because again, it makes me feel cool and it’s hella easier, but before I got married last year and registered for all the fancy kitchen machines I used a $3 hand mixer I bought at target when I was 19 so use whatever you have, but probably not a whisk and your biceps because it will take forever and your arm may cramp and it won’t fluff well enough unless you’re super buff and do CrossFit or something and then you’re probably not into pies because keto diet or whatever)
Add sugar gradually, and a few little pinches of cream of tartar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form, and I mean STIFF. The stiffer the better (...that’s what she said! I couldn’t help myself, I know. I’m sorry. Don’t look at me.) Now when it’s stiff, like stands up by itself stiff, spread that meringue over the pie that’s been cooling on the counter. Make little peaks or swirls if you’re fancy but don’t spread it smooth or you won’t get to use the torch later and everyone wants to torch shit. Make sure to seal the edges at the crust to lock in all that filling.
Bake it in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown on the tips.
Now I remove the pie from the oven and flip on my mini kitchen torch and gentle and quickly torch the tips of the meringue, because it’s fun and I like fire and it looks fancy. You have to be quick and light with it, like a street cat jumping off a garage onto the dumpster. Graceful, Agile and light. It’s easy to burn the meringue and you’ll be pissed if you have to serve a pie that you worked so hard on that will taste great but look like a badly done ombré; all white and yellow gold with dark brown or black tips. Gross and not at all fashionable. If you don’t have a torch you’re not cool, just kidding, if you don’t have a torch you can flip on the broiler and place the pie back in and WITH THE OVEN DOOR OPEN, watch it until the tips start to really brown and snatch it out quickly before they turn black because that happens in the blink of an eye. I swear. Also, if you’re scared of all this fire nonsense just let the meringue get golden in the oven at 350 and remove it. The fireworks are not necessary and it will taste basically the same. I promise.
7 Boom! You’re done. Now clean up or make your kid or partner do it (or if you’re slightly compulsive like me you’ve been cleaning every step of the way and it looks like nothing ever happened) and enjoy the hell out of that pie!