Lemon Meringue Pie

One rainy day, about a decade ago when we were staunch locavores and still beginning to learn about what that meant (and how to incorporate balance), a friend left a surprise sack of lemons on my porch.  During her drive north, they’d traveled with her in her tiny trunk, fresh from her parents’ CA tree, and she thought I might like them. Oh, it was the first time I’d ever smelled a freshly picked lemon! I’ll never forget that moment, standing on my porch in the rain, opening that sack, and being hit by a waft of sunshine.

Recently, I had some more fresh lemons come into my life. Another friend received a big box of lemons from a relative’s tree. There I was again, with that same scent in my nose (on another drippy February day.) I set about “converting” them for both our families. Starting with pie, moving on to bread, not quite making it to curd, as I had intended to – we got some good miles out of those lemons this winter.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery book (which surpassed my family recipe in flavor)

Makes 1 deliciously large pie that needs to be eaten within a day or two

your favorite pie crust recipe, weighted and prebaked at 425 for 20 minutes, then cooled

6 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk
zest from two lemons
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
3 tbls. unsalted butter

For the meringue:
6 egg whites (from above)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar

  1. Separate the yolks and whites into bowls. Set aside.
  2. In a pot on the stove over medium, whisk together the sugar, conrstarch, and salt. Add 1 1/4 c. water and the milk. Whisk continuously for about 5 minutes until thick.
  3. Temper the egg yolks by mixing about 1 cup of your heated milk mixture into them first, then adding this all back into the pot.
  4. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Set the pot over low, then simmer, whisking often. You’re looking for a thick and glossy custard.
  5. Remove from the heat, add in the butter. Pass this “lemon pudding” through a sieve, then add it to your prebaked pie shell.
  6. To make the meringue, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt together with the whisk attachment of a mixer for one minute. When this looks frothy, add the granulated sugar and beat until you see peaks. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat again on medium until they are stiff.
  7. Immediately pour the meringue onto the pudding in the pie shell.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes on 375F.
  9. Cool for at least an hour before serving.
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