Lemon Meringue Pie

The Daring Bakers’ January 2008 Challenge was brought to us by Jen of The Canadian Baker

Lemon Meringue Pie
(from “Wanda’s Pie in the Sky” by Wanda Beaver)
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008

To download the recipe in .pdf format, click HERE

Yield: one 10″ / 25cm pie
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hours + chilling
Baking time: 1 hour altogether

For the Crust

1 1/2 sticks / 3/4 cup / 170g / 6 oz cold butter; cut into 1⁄2″ / roughly1cm pieces
2 cups / 250g / 8.8 oz all-purpose flour
1/4 cup / 50g / 1 3/4 oz granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup / 80ml ice water

For the Filling

2 cups / 480ml water
1 cup / 200g / 7 oz granulated sugar
1/2 cup / 65 g / 2 1/4 oz cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 stick / 1/4 cup / 55g / 2 oz butter
3/4 cup / 180ml fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Meringue

5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup / 150g granulated sugar

To Make the Crust

Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible.

Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together.

Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8″ / 1/3cm.

Cut a circle about 2″ / 5cm larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2″ / 1cm. Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4. Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling

Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes.

Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick.

Add about 1 cup / 240ml of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.

Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated.

Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined.

Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue

Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C / Gas Mark 5.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks.

Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Free-Style Lemon Tartlets
(from “Ripe for Dessert” by David Lebovitz)

Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5″ / 12cm disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4. Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425°F / 220°C / Gas Mark 7. Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1″ / 2cm border all the way around. Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks.

Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky
Wanda Beaver