Monday, March 17, 2014

EASY AS PIE: Lemon Meringue Photo Tutorial

This is a really great lemon meringue pie and  absolutely worth making. Sometimes when I see a long wordy recipe, it can feel like a science experiment just waiting to go wrong.  That is why I made this handy dandy photo tutorial. There is a big recipe below...followed by lots of helpful step-by-step photos.

Here is a printable version of the recipe for you:
We are going to make this BEAUTY with the pile of lemons just below... we really are!
When life gives you lemons...
make a lemon meringue pie! 

Lemon Meringue Pie:

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe by:
Pie Dough- (For one pie crust)
1 ½  cup all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
½  tsp salt
¼  cup chilled Crisco, cut into ½ inch bits
½  stick of chilled butter cut into small bits
¼ cup chilled vodka and water in equal parts

Combine all dry ingredients is a food processor, pulse 5 seconds. Add chilled butter and Crisco while processor is running, until combined (30 seconds).  Slowly pour in the water/vodka mix until dough forms a moist ball.  All the liquid may not be needed.  Remove dough, wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
Filling Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (fine)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 cup water
Meringue Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

1.   Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch, and use to line a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp the edges decoratively. Chill until firm. Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork, line with parchment paper. Weight the shell with pie weights or dried beans, and bake until the edges begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights; continue baking until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes more. Let cool.
2.   To make filling, combine cornstarch, cake flour, salt, and sugar in a medium nonreactive saucepan.  Add 1 ¾ cups cold water. On medium heat bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes, the mixture will begin to thicken. 
3.   Remove the pan from heat. Temper egg yolks by beating a small amount of hot mixture into the yolks before adding them to pan.  Add tempered egg yolks to the saucepan and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the lemon juice and zest.  Cook over low heat for 2 minutes more, be sure not to overcook the lemon/egg mixture.
4.   Remove from the heat.   Add the butter one piece at a time, whisk each piece until incorporated.   Pour the mixture into a large bowl, and let cool for 30 minutes.
5.   Pour the warm filling into the cooled shell and refrigerate, cover with plastic wrap until firm, about 1 hour.
6.   For the Meringue, heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a saucepan combine sugar and water, bring to a rolling boil.  Boil for 4 minutes and remove sugar syrup from heat. Combine egg whites beat until frothy (about 1 minute) then add the cream of tartar, pinch of salt and vanilla.  Beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Carefully, pour hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg white mixture while beating egg whites on low.  Once sugar syrup in incorporated, continue to beat egg whites on medium high for 5-8 minutes while the egg whites cool and become shiny and glossy. 
7.   Cover pie to the edges with the meringue, being sure to seal the edges with the meringue.  Using the back of a spoon, create whimsical peaks all over meringue.
8.    Bake pie on middle rack of oven until meringue peaks are light brown, about 4-6 minutes, watching constantly. Allow pie to cool completely before cutting.  Serve at room temperature.
The crust is a blind baked, cooled crust.  A pre-made crust or a store-bought crust is fine to use.  
For a step-by-step crust lesson, visit my post click here: Perfect Pie Crust 101.  For this tutorial, I made my crust in advance.  This tutorial begins with the filling of the pie.

1.  Juice lemons, 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice is needed
2. Use 5 fresh eggs
3.  Separate the yolks and the whites.  Be sure there is no yolk in the whites, it will not make fabulous meringue later on if there are yolks in them.
4.  Strain the seeds and pulp from the lemon juice.  Set juice aside.
5.  Zest the lemons... you can do the zesting before cutting and juicing the lemons in step one...just as long as you get some zest...TIP: I LOVE to use my Microplane grater--it is the PERFECT tool for getting fine shreds of citrus zest.
6.  Add cornstarch, cake flour and salt to a non-reactive pan...
a stainless steel is a great choice of pan for this pie making event.
7.  Add sugar to the pan too.
8.  Add your water, 1 3/4 Cup.
9.  Whisk until combined.
10.  Heat on medium until thickened.  Whisk the entire time... if you stop whisking it will stick and quickly burn...gently whisk and turn down the heat if it gets too thick, too quickly.
Once thickened...
11.  Temper the eggs.  Off of the heat, add a few tablespoons of the hot thickened cornstarch/sugar mixture into the eggs...warm thee eggs up by stirring this into them, then...
12. Add the warmed up "tempered" eggs to the pan of HOT thickened cornstarch/sugar.  (tempering prevents the eggs from being scrambled and lumpy)
13.  Combine...whisk... whisk... return pot to the heat.
14.  Cook until mixture is bubbly. 
15.  Add lemon juice and zest...whisk
16.  Let cook for two minutes more after adding the juice and zest.  It will be thick and bubbly...keep whisking.
17.  Remove from heat and add butter, stir until smooth.
18.  Pie Crust...ready and cooled.
19.  Pour lemon filling into pie crust.
20.  Smooth offset spatula works great for this.
21. Chill the pie.  I let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before refrigerating it...

If you have a stand mixer, it makes quick work of the meringue.  I sometimes make meringue with a hand mixer... Using a hand mixer just requires a little more time and special care when handling the hot sugar syrup.  TIP: If using a hand held mixer, be sure to also use a metal mixing bowl to whip up the egg whites, as we will be pouring very hot liquid into the mixing bowl shortly. 
Use the whisk attachment.

22. Add water and sugar to a pan, heat on medium high.
23. Over at the mixer...add egg whites to the metal mixing bowl.
24. and 25. Whisk the egg whites on low, increasing the speed once the vanilla and cream of tarter are added.
Look...It's thickening up.
Meanwhile, at the stove the sugar and water are creating a simple syrup.
 Once the all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is bubbling vigorously it will be EXTREMELY HOT.  Use caution.   The Simple syrup is now ready to be SLOWLY poured down the side of the bowl with the mixer on LOW.
26.  As the syrup is on the stove top bubbling and heating up, continue to beat the egg whites until foamy soft peaks form like in the photo above.  If  the egg whites reach soft peaks before the sugar syrup is ready, turn off the mixer and wait on the syrup to get hot, then proceed when ready.

Both are ready now...The egg whites formed soft peaks AND the sugar Syrup is HOT

Hot sugar Syrup below.
(I have to say the photo makes it look like the mixer is whizzing at high speed...It is on LOW speed)
27. Carefully, VERY carefully, and very SLOWLY pour the hot (look it's still boiling) down the side of the mixing bowl.  The mixer MUST be on the lowest/SLOWEST speed.    
( Again, I promise it was on low speed )
28.  Once all the sugar syrup has been slowly poured into the egg whites.  Slowly begin to increase the mixer speed.  The egg whites will be cooked by the hot syrup.  CAUTION: The mixing bowl will now become EXTREMELY HOT too... after all, we just poured boiling hot syrup into a metal mixing bowl.
29.  Mix at medium-medium high speed for 6-8 minutes until meringue is glossy, shiny and billowy...and cooled.
Stiff peaks, We are ready to apply meringue to the pie now!
30.  Spoon on the gorgeous meringue.
Simply lovely!
31.  Using the back of a spoon, make decorative peaks on top of pie.

33.  Spread the meringue all the way to the edges of the entire crust.  Sealing the edges will keep the meringue from shrinking when it goes in the oven to brown.
 34. Place the pie in a pre-heated 400 degree oven. 

 Ohhh...We made it!  Now it needs to is WAY better chilled. 
35. Enjoy!

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  1. Wonderful :) One of my favs which I make often :)

  2. Can this be made a day ahead or is it best served the day it's made?

    1. Hi Linda! I think it's best served about 6-8 hours after its made... So it has time to chill. After 8 hours it can get watery, although this recipe holds up pretty well... So much to do with humidity and weather conditions too... In my experience... If I was serving company or competing (it won first place last summer) I time it so that it's well chilled but I don't let it sit too long... Hope that helps a little!!

    2. Yet another question. Making this tomorrow, but crust today. How long should the pie chill prior to adding the meringue? Or should the pie still be hot. I've always added meringue while the pie is still warm. Heard that helps prevent shrinkage more?

    3. Hi Linda!! I put the meringue on just after I fill the pie--so it's still very warm. After I top the pie with meringue, and lightly brown it in the oven, I let the whole pie cool down and then refrigerate it. Best of luck with your pie!! 🍋🍋🍋

    4. Hi Linda!! I was just sifting through comments today and responding... and I wanted you to know I read and appreciated your sweet comment...but I accidentally deleted it... So sorry... I was moving along too quickly... here was your comment (I collected it from my notices): Thank you Karri, for your for your wonderful tutorials, pictures and quick responses to my questions. You are awesome and so is your web site. My pie was tall and beautiful and so delicious. The meringue was tall and tender and the pie was both beautiful and delicious. Eaten all in one sitting! -- Again, thank you Linda!! So happy your pie was a success!! :) Karri