Lemon meringue pie is probably one of my favorite desserts. I just love it! And although it might seem like a spring/summer thing, I totally think a little citrus during these cold months helps keep the winter blues away. But I love the bright, pop of citrus flavor any time of year.
I used to find meringue-topped pies really difficult. But over the years I've found a few tricks/tips that help ensure a perfect meringue every time. I'm happy to share my fool-proof tips with you, along with my favorite lemon meringue pie recipe. Are you ready for some citrus in your life?
For the filling:
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cake flour
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup lemon + lime juice*
zest from 1 lemon
3 egg yolks
For the meringue:
12 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon corn starch (this helps keep the meringue a little drier, to avoid weeping)
6 tablespoons sugar
*Note: I like to use 1-2 lemons and half a lime for the juice. I know, it's "lemon" meringue pie, so what's that lime doing in there?! I personally think adding a little lime juice creates a slightly more complex/interesting flavor. But, you can use all lemon juice if you don't have a lime on hand or if you're a purist.
First make the meringue. The reason we make the meringue first is so it will be ready just as soon as our filling is ready. You want to add meringue on top of a HOT filling (not cooled, repeat, not cooled), as this ensures that the bottom of the meringue will begin to cook along with the top and you can avoid a weeping meringue situation.
In a glass or metal bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites on high until foamy. While your mixer is still running, gradually add in other ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form, 6-7 minutes. It helps if your egg whites are at room temperature, but if they're not, don't fret. It just may take a bit longer.
Now on to the filling and pie crust. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake your pie crust until almost baked through. I used a store bought crust (the refrigerator section kind), and I actually wish I hadn't for this. This pie has some liquid components (the citrus pudding filling and meringue top), so you really want a drier pie crust or it can get just a little bit soggy. Next time I'll either make my own crust or use a store bought one from the freezer section as I find them to bake a little flakier/drier.
To keep lumps out of your filling, start by sifting together the cake flour and corn starch. In a pot, combine the sugar, cake flour, corn starch, salt, water, zest, and citrus juice. Whisk together over medium heat until warmed through. Pour a few tablespoons of this warm mixture in with the egg yolk (in a separate bowl) and stir to combine. This tempers the eggs, so they won't immediately cook. Once tempered, add the yolks to the milk mixture and bring to a low boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly (I prefer a whisk for this to avoid clumps). The mixture will thicken into a pudding/custard. While it's still hot, pour into your prepared crust, top with meringue and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Also, you can see that I baked my pie on a baking sheet. Why? It makes it easier to move this jiggly pie to and from the oven. If you're doing a really tall meringue like this, it's also good to check and make sure your oven racks are placed so they can fit the meringue. I actually removed my top rack before preheating to accommodate the size of this pie. It's not called "sky high" for nothing!
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.