Good Morning everybody!
Alright my fellow Vancourverites, let’s just ignore the fact that it is the most gloomy Monday of all time here in Vancouver today, and try to focus on the positive! Contrary to the fact that it is pouring down rain and utterly miserable outside today, for the most part I think we have to admit that Spring has definitely arrived here in Vancouver! I mean let’s face it, our trees have leaves on them, our cherry blossom trees have been blooming like mad, grass is getting green, and it’s gotten to the point where you can actually step outside and be greeted by that amazingly fresh, floral scent that I can only describe as the amazing scent of Spring. All things considered it has been wonderful so far this Spring, so I will try my best to ignore this very rainy and depressing day… and I will hope that the weather forecast for the remainder of the week brightens up to include at least a little sunshine! Pleassseeeeeeeeee!!!
Anyways, with summer just around the corner (sort of) I seem to have one thing, and one thing only on my mind – baking with lemons! Ahhh yes – it is that time of year when the sun comes out, the weather starts to get warmer and I start to experience intense cravings for the sweet and tangy delights of all things lemon infused! There is just something so fresh and crisp about lemon desserts that make for a perfect finish to those simple and light spring / summer meals, wouldn’t you agree?
So when my friend asked if I could bake a dessert for her to bring to her family Easter Dinner, we both came to the immediate conclusion that Lemon Meringue Pie would be the perfect Spring dessert for her to bring! I mean how could we go wrong with a buttery, flaky pastry, that is filled to the brim with a smooth, rich, tangy lemon curd, and topped off with a mound of sweet, fluffy toasted meringue….??? The answer to this question is simple… we couldn’t go wrong – homemade Lemon Meringue Pie is just too good 😀
Now, when I make a lemon meringue pie, I am all about that perfect balance of sweet & tart. I like my lemon filling be a perfect harmony between the tart flavour from the lemons, sweetness from the sugar and richness from the eggs & butter. In other words, I don’t like my filling too sweet, too sour, or too rich – I always aim for the Goldi Locks of Lemon Meringue Pies… I like them to be “just right!” :p
So if there is one thing that I can tell you about this pie, it is that my recipe below definitely achieves that harmonious balance of flavours that I am referring to. The ratio of lemon juice & zest to the sugar, butter and egg yolk content makes for a beautifully smooth, rich, luscious lemon curd that you will want to eat straight from your mixing bowl – but try not to do this because once you taste a spoonful of this lemon filling…. the next thing you know you will be staring into an empty bowl. (Am I speaking as a girl with personal experience in this matter??…. perhaps :p)
Now for those of you who have never had a homemade lemon meringue pie, let me be the first to tell you that you have been seriously missing out on the deliciousness that is homemade meringue. How can I describe meringue…. homemade meringue is basically like eating soft marshmallowy amazingness, and when you get that golden brown toast on the top… game over. Quite simply, homemade meringue is dangerous and secretly, I usually make a little (a lot) of extra meringue, so that I can have a little (a lot) leftover for me to eat straight from the bowl… it is that addicting. In short – homemade meringue is the absolute best, but I will let you in on a little secret… it is actually super simple to make!
This is a super decadent dessert and all things considered, it is actually very simple to make because there really is no special skills or equipment required. Even though Julia Child would have us believe that “every woman should own a blowtorch,” for toasting such things as meringues, at this point in time my kitchen is unfortunately lacking in the blowtorch department. But never fear! We who are blowtorch-less can still toast our meringues! (One day I shall have my own blowtorch muaha! … Although I’m not entirely sure that I should be trusted with such a flammable kitchen tool) So because of my lack of blow torch, I simply used my ovens broiler to toast the top of my meringue into that desired state of golden brown, toasted marshmallowy deliciousness and it worked perfectly!
So now that I have you dreaming of this perfectly balanced, Luscious Lemon Meringue Pie, I think it’s only fair that I shut up and share the recipe don’t you? 🙂 So here it is! I hope you enjoy!
Luscious Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes 1 x 10 inch pie
Things you need…
Sweet Short Crust Pastry (Or pie crust of your choice)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cold & cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp ice water
1 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup butter, cubed
1/8 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cornstarch
How to make…
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, icing sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until pea sized chunks remain.
Whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice and 1 tbsp of water. Drizzle over the dry ingredients and stir gently with a fork until ragged dough forms. Press a few chunks of the pastry together in your hands – if it holds together do not add any additional water, but if it crumbles apart add the additional water.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands. Gently knead the pastry into the shape of a disk with your fingertips. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and allow to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
** Tip: I like too prepare my pie dough the night before, so if your dough is in the fridge over night – simply remove it and allow it to stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before rolling.
When you are ready to roll your pie dough, place the disk onto a lightly floured rolling surface. dust the top of the dough with flour and roll into a circle that is about 4-5 mm thick. Lightly press the dough into a 10 inch pie plate and fold the edges under to hide the rough edge. Flute the edge of the crust however you like. I simple used my thumb and forefinger to create this classic flute design.
Use a fork to poke your pie dough around the edges of the pie and throughout the center. (This will help to ensure no air bubbles pop out of your dough. Place the pie plate and dough in the fridge and allow to chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and remove pie shell from fridge. lay a sheet of foil over top of the pie dough and fill with rice, beans or pie weights. Bake in the bottom third of your oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and the weights and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until your crust is lightly golden. You may need to protect the top edges of your crust with foil to ensure even browning throughout the crust.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature before filling.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. Whisk until pale and thickened. Remove from heat and pour through a fine sieve into a heat-proof glass bowl. Add cold cubed butter, one cube at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Bring a medium pot that is filled halfway with water to a boil.
Whisk together your egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over the boiling pot of water being careful to ensure that the boiling water isn’t touching the bottom of your bowl. Whisk over boiling water until the sugar is dissolved – about 4-5 minutes. To test whether the sugar is dissolved rub the mixture between your fingers – it should be smooth and not grainy.
Remove egg whites from heat and whip with an electric mixer that has been fitted with the whipping attachment for 5-10 minutes or until stiff, glossy peaks form. Be careful not to over whip your egg whites, as this will cause your whites to break, and lose their beautiful smooth and glossy texture. You should be able to turn your bowl of meringue upside down and the meringue will stay in place in the bowl.
Remove your lemon curd from the fridge and spoon into your cooked & cooled pie crust. Smooth the filling evenly in the pie crust with an offset spatula.
Next, spoon the meringue on top of the lemon filling and use an offset spatula to create a fluffy design of your choice. You can cover the whole pie with the meringue or you can leave some of the lemon filling visible as I did here.
Turn your broiler onto medium-high and place the pie in the center rack to toast the meringue. This can take anywhere between 1-4 minutes depending on your broiler temperature, so keep a close eye on your meringue to make sure that you don’t burn the top.
Once you have toasted your meringue to your desired golden brown, remove your pie from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving. ** Refrigerate your pie if it is going to be more than an hour or two before you serve it.
**Tip: Lemon Meringue Pie is a great make-ahead dessert option!
Simply prepare your pie dough and lemon curd the night before your event. Bake the crust late in the morning so it has some time to cool completely. Prepare your meringue a couple hours before your event, and then all you have left to do is fill your pie, top it with the meringue and give it a quick toast in the oven. It makes for a very simple yet super elegant and delicious dessert that will definitely impress your guests!
There we have it! My recipe for homemade Lemon Meringue Pie!
Needless to say the pie turned out beautifully! I mean it was almost too pretty to eat…. well almost too pretty to eat … 😀 Seriously, I could just make a picture of this pie my screen saver for the rest of time – although I think that could be considered a work place hazard because it would most likely induce uncontrollable pie cravings all day long. Yeah… on second thought, for now I think I will stick with my landscape pictures.
Now as happy as I was to make this pie for my dear friends Easter Dinner, I have to admit that it also made me very sad. Why? Well because it meant that once it was all delicious and ready to go, she took the beautiful pie in all its glory with her… and I was subsequently left Lemon Meringue Pie-less…. I’m not going to lie to you, I had a very hard time parting with this pie. When the time came, I almost called her and told her that I dropped it while trying to remove it from the oven after toasting the meringue… but in the end I couldn’t do that to her. She is just too darn wonderful 🙂
But make no mistake, just because I had the will power not to lie to my friend, doesn’t mean that it was easy – in fact, it may have been one of the hardest desserts I have ever had to part with… (Note to self… when baking Lemon Meringue Pies for someone else, always bake another pie for me.) Sweet lord, just talking about this pie is making me drool and I am seriously contemplating making another for Cole and I… hmmm a whole 10 inch pie for Cole and I to share…. yup- this gives me an idea for tonight’s dessert 😛
Please excuse me while I go make a very large pie for two! 😀