Monday, August 13, 2012

Not Quite Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

Sometimes, I forget about lemon meringue pie.  It's so old school, so unassuming.  A pie I've loved since childhood, but haven't made in at least ten years.  That changed a couple of weeks ago when I made good on an old promise to a dear friend.

Elizabeth and I worked together for nearly eight years.  We talked about everything from problem students to, well, very different sorts of problems.  We also talked about cooking and baking, and traded lots of secrets.  I learned that one of her most favorite desserts is lemon meringue pie and I promised to make her one.  That was years ago and, like so many things, I never got around to it.

And then... And then she and her husband decided to move.  To Atlanta.  When I went to her house to help her pack up the kitchen, I knew it was my last chance.

I consulted my main man Alton Brown and didn't change a thing.  I did use a refrigerated pie crust.  Judge me if you must.

Alton Brown's Lemon Meringue Pie

4 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell
1 recipe Meringue, recipe follows

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Whisk egg yolks in medium size mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Turn heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually, 1 whisk-full at a time, add hot mixture to egg yolks and stir until you have added at least half of the mixture.
  4. Return egg mixture to saucepan, turn heat down to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter, lemon juice, and zest until well combined. Pour mixture into pie shell and top with meringue while filling is still hot. Make sure meringue completely covers filling and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is cooled completely before slicing.
Meringue Topping:

4 egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.

Seriously didn't change a thing.  Alton is the man.  Thanks, Food Network.

Here are the visuals:

Stir the curd.
Fill the crust.
Whip the whites.
Dump the fluff.
Bake 'til brown.

 As you can see from the plastic plate, we got the kitchen packed before we tried a piece.  The pie was great, as was the conversation.  The office isn't the same, but the friendship will be.  And now I have a place to stay in Atlanta.  'Til then, EK...

Keep it sweet.  

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