Lemon Meringue Pie: The Perfect Balance of Sweet and Tart
Lemon meringue pie bursts with the fresh flavor of lemons and is a great choice for kicking off your spring baking.
Lemon Meringue Pie
cream of tartar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons
white granulated sugar
egg whites (double check that there are no yolks in the egg whites, and make sure egg whites are room temperature before the mixing process)
Prebake the frozen pie crust following the instructions on the package.
Place 5 large egg yolks into a medium-sized bowl; whisk and set aside.
Place 1 1/3 cups sugar, 6 tablespoons cornstarch, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1 ½ cups water into a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat; whisk to combine. Whisking continuously, bring ingredients to a boil, then simmer for 1 minute. Once thickened, remove from the heat.
Transfer 1 spoonful of the thickened sugar-cornstarch mixture to the bowl with the whisked egg yolks; whisk to combine. Repeat the process of transferring 1 spoonful of the sugar-cornstarch mixture to the bowl with the whisked egg yolks, whisking every time you add a spoonful. When you have transferred and whisked approximately ½ of the sugar-cornstarch mixture into the egg yolk mixture, transfer the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining sugar-cornstarch mixture. Place the saucepan over low heat and cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest; stir.
Meringue and Finishing the Pie
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
For the meringue, place 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/3 cup cold water in a small saucepan; whisk until cornstarch is dissolved. Place saucepan over medium heat and whisk until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove the saucepan from the heat; set aside. In a bowl, whisk ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar with ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar; set aside. Place the 5 room temperature egg whites and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer (make sure the bowl is clean before adding egg whites). Starting on low speed, beat the egg whites and then slowly increase the speed to medium. When the egg whites become frothy, and while still beating, gradually add in the cream of tartar-sugar mixture one spoonful at a time. Continue beating until the egg whites form soft peaks. One spoonful at a time, while still beating, add in the cornstarch-water mixture. Turn the mixer speed to high and continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks have formed (Note: Be careful not over-beat or meringue will become gritty.)
Before filling the prebaked pie shell, reheat the lemon filling until it is steamy. Spoon the lemon filling into the pie shell; evenly spread the filling in the shell and smooth out the top using the back of the spoon or a rubber spatula. Now, working fast and using a rubber spatula, evenly spread the meringue all the way around the edge of the pie, making sure the meringue attaches to the crust with no unfilled spaces (this helps keep the meringue from shrinking). Now finish filling in the center with more meringue. You can create peaks in the meringue by using the back of a spoon (gently swirl the back of the spoon in the meringue, lifting the spoon up before moving on to another spot in the meringue).
Place the readied pie into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until the meringue is golden brown. Move the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely to room temperature before cutting into the pie, otherwise the lemon filling may be too runny.
It is best to eat lemon meringue pie the same day it is baked, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.