Pie Day 2: Lemon Meringue Pie – Success!!!

Hello there beautiful 🙂

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That’s right, my pie set and we ate it and it was AMAZING.

Well, it wasn’t my absolute dream lemon meringue pie but it was yummy. And it wasn’t a runny mess under that beautiful browned top so I’m calling this a Success!! It could have been a little more tart or… something, I’m not sure. Maybe it needed more salt or butter. (Edit: just ate some for breakfast and it tasted way better this morning. It was still just a little warm when we ate it last night and that messed up the flavor. Still, it could have been more tart.)

So here was my process. I was super worried about this pie because of my last failure which had basically ripped my heart out because it had looked so beautiful and perfect and I was so proud and then I cut into it and my beautiful meringue was floating on lemon soup.

So this time I did my research. Apparently there are a few things that can make this happen:

1. A bad lemon juice to cornstarch ratio. Too much acid can deactivate the cornstarch’s holding powers. (be careful when using a “this many lemons” recepie rather than a “1/2 c etc.” recipe. If you have too much lemon juice and not enough cornstarch it won’t set.)

2. Too much heat. When it says “boil for 1 minute” it means “1 minute” letting it go for longer “to give it some extra thickening powers” I guess isn’t the way physics works for cornstarch and lemon juice. Extra heat also kills the cornstarch.

3. Incorrect cooling. I’m not 100% sure on this one, I read a bunch of different cooling/storing methods: one thing was clear – it needs room to breath or moisture will condense on it. So give it room to breath and then let it cool at… This is where it got confusing. Some people said room temperature only, some 1 hr room temp. + a couple hours in the fridge. I don’t know, but somehow if you do it wrong it can make a puddle under the meringue. I did it all room temp (3 hours) and there was little to no puddle. Slight meringue slipage (even though I totally covered the lemon to the edges) but still, it wasn’t bad. So that is what I suggest – all room temperature for cooling. Except wait 4 hours. Mine was still a little warm and warm lemon isn’t as good as cold lemon.

CRUST

This time I made a… I want to say “lard” crust, but that sounds gross. I’m going to go look at the book… Shortening! It was a shortening crust. (Nothing against Lard crusts though, I think I’ll make a lard crust on an upcoming savory pie)

I chose a shortening crust because they are lighter and a little bit less intensely flavored than butter crusts and for a light pie, like a lemon meringue or a light fruit pie, they are recommended.

I wasn’t sure how to cut the shortening into little hard pieces so I just clumped it into the flower with a knife and then made little pieces with my fingers during the incorporation phase. image

After mixing it all together with my fingers I poured in the water half at a time. It needed way less water than the butter crust. I maybe even put too much water in this time thinking it would need a similar amount as the butter crust. But it ended up being ok, a little sticky to roll out, but the finished product was flakey and good.

After a few hours cooling time in the fridge I rolled it out, put it in the pan and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes (I was supposed to do 20 but I was in a hurry) freezing it first helps the edges not shrink down during baking.

Then I lined the crust with tinfoil and filled it with dry beans so it would hold its shape. I then baked the crust for 50 minutes at 350.

I did this wrong. It was supposed to be 20 minutes at 425 then 20 minutes at 350 but I read it wrong and by the time I figured it out it was too late, so I had to leave it in for an extra 10 minutes at the end without the foil/beans to get the bottom cooked. It was still fine though, so yey!

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You have to do this early enough that you can give it time to cool before you pour in the filling, so keep that in mind.

FILLING

I found a great recipe by someone who had worked very hard to solve the “weeping” problem. You can find it here: No Weep Lemon Meringue Pie It even has a video! I used almost the exact recipe. I made a couple changes. I’ll be posting the recipe exactly as I made it below.

First: Put the dry ingredients into your cold sauce pan.

1 3/4 c sugar

6 T cornstarch

1/4 t salt (the recipe I linked to says 1/8 but I did 1/4)

stir together.

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Still in a Cold Saucepan

Add 1/2 c lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

1/2 c cold milk (the recipe I linked to uses water, but I read in a few places that all water can make a very jelly like pie so I changed this 1/2 liquid to milk)

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Stir together

Separate your egg yolks from your egg whites, saving both parts.

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Add your 4 egg yolks to your mixture

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Mix these in and add 1 T butter (I eyeballed this measurement and erred on the side of extra butter, after all, some recipes I found called for 4 T!)

Then whisk in 1 1/2 C boiling water. This is the first heat that your ingredients will get, and because you are pouring the hot slowly into the cold it reduces the potential for scrambled egg.

Put mixture over medium-high heat and stir with a flexible spatula (so that you can scrape the bottom and sides – I found that it thickened most quickly next to the pan and if I wasn’t constantly scraping it would have likely burned or something bad)

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Mix about 7 minutes until it boils. Once it starts boiling Turn Off The Heat  and keep stirring (pan still on the burner with the heat off) for 1 minute. The recipe I linked to said stir with the heat on for this one minute but other weep-free pie forums that I read said to turn the heat off to ensure you don’t over heat the cornstarch. So that’s what I did and it worked perfectly. The filling was very thick.

Pour it into the cold pie crust.

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Now you make the meringue. You want to put the meringue onto the filling while it’s still hot so that the meringue will “cook” a little bit from the hot filling and stick to it.

Mix a little bowl of 1/2 c sugar and 2t corn starch.

Pour your 4 egg whites and 1/4 t cream of tartar into a mixer. Use a whisk attachment and whisk at high speed. Once it has started to firm pour the sugar mixture in slowly – about 1 T at a time.

Your meringue is done when it holds peaks and is super glossy looking – like a pearl.

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Spoon your meringue onto your pie and spread with a spatula making sure the meringue touches the crust on all sides forming a seal (so that moisture can’t get in between to form the dreaded puddle)

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Bake in preheated oven at 350 until top is brown – this was 15 minutes for me. (The recipe I linked to says 25 minutes, they said that the meringue would be more stable if you cook it longer at this low heat, I found my meringue was very stable with just 15 minutes. I took it out early because I didn’t want ALL the egg white to turn brown on top, I like the white/brown contrast, but that’s just me.)

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And now you wait for it to cool! (all the way! I did room temp cool, this takes a long time… 4 hours or so)

And then eat!

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This pie was wonderful and worth the hassle 🙂 Next time I will add more butter and less sugar and I think it will be just what I always dreamed of.

Enjoy!

 

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