Lemon Meringue Pie
Posted on July 19, 2020
A classic dessert and a special treat for lemon-lovers! This lemon meringue pie tastes not too sweet with a proper lemon flavour. With a crispy pastry tart and a light and airy meringue this tart makes the best dessert after a nice dinner with friends. In my family this lemon tart has become the standard dessert after the Christmas dinner. With our stomach full of turkey and all the delicious side dishes there is no more space left for a dessert, but with this sweet and sour tart always the plates are left empty after the dinner is over!
A lemon pie is a classic recipe, that never disappoints you. This recipe is not too sweet and with a nice sour lemon flavour. The pie has three layers: a crispy sweet pie crust, a lemon curd and a light and airy meringue.
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The recipe for the the pie crust is a classic recipe. The first tip is to use cold butter from the fridge cut in cubes. All the ingredients are mixed together and you can either make the dough by hand or by using your electric mixer with the hook attachment.
You can either roll out the crust dough on a floured flat working area or you can simply roll it out inside the tart pan with your hands till it covers all the pan bottom and sides. Make sure that you have buttered and floured the tart pan beforehand.
In this recipe the pastry dough is not refrigerated before rolled out and no beans or other weight are placed on it during the baking in order to avoid the crust to rise. As previously mentioned, the dough is rolled out directly after mixing it and placed in the tart pan. The hack here to prevent rising of the crust during baking, is to pierce the bottom and the sides of the dough in the pan with a fork and let it chill in the freezer for about 15'. Then bake in a pre-heated oven the chilled dough. The crust is ready when it is dry and lightly golden brown. Let the crust cool completely in the pan before filling it. Do not remove it from the tart pan yet.
The lemon filling of the pie is actually a lemon curd. In this recipe the eggs, the lemon juice and the sugar are heated over a double boiler, which is actually a bowl over simmering water (make sure that the boiling water is not reaching the bottom of the bowl). For best result a thermometer should be used in order to prevent the eggs from cooking and turn out your curd to scrambled eggs. Remember to strain the lemon-egg-sugar curd before adding the butter in order to remove any cooked egg pieces. Finally add lemon zest, which is the outer yellow part of the lemon, in the curd to get a more lemony flavour and aroma. Notice to use the zest of organic unwaxed lemons and wash them thoroughly before taking off the zest. After making the lemon filling pour it directly over the cooled pie crust.
The final step is the meringue. When making any meringue make sure that you do not let any yolks into your whites when you separate the eggs. Therefore separate eggs one by one into a small bowl and add each egg white separately into the mixing bowl. Important also, when making a meringue is to use clean equipment, i.e. clean mixing bowl and clean whisk attachment of the mixer. If any of the equipment is not clean enough (slightest residue of fat or tiny dough pieces left from previous usage) or if there are any yolk pieces in the eggs white mix, then the meringue will not rise. A tip to make sure that your equipment is totally clean it to wash it and dry it directly before use or rub it quickly with a lemon and wipe it with a paper towel.
Making the meringue is quite easy. In your standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment mix on high the egg whites adding gradually the sugar and the vanilla extract. While making the meringue, heat the tart with the lemon filling in a preheated oven. The meringue is done when it forms nice glossy stiff peaks. When the meringue is done place it on the warm lemon filling using a piping bag or two table spoons. The warm lemon filling will help the meringue cook also on the bottom. After topping all the meringue place the tart in the oven for 6-8 minutes or till it gets nice golden topics. If you prefer you can use a hand held propane torch to toast the meringue but watch out not to burn it, but truly, I have never used one.
The pie is ready to serve but I prefer it at room temperature. Any leftovers can be refrigerated but the meringue starts to become dry and more tight.
Lemon Meringue Pie
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Sweet pastry crust
260 gr all purpose flour
60 gr granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
225 gr cold unsalted butter, diced
( 1/2 cup ) juice of 2 big lemons
120 gr white granulated sugar
140 gr unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut in small pieces
( 3 tsp ) zest of 2 big lemons
4 egg whites, at room temperature
200 gr granulated white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Sweet pastry crust
Butter and flour a 25cm (10 inch) tart pan.
In the bowl of your electric stand mixer mix the flour along with the sugar and the salt.
Add the cold butter cut in dices and mix with the hook attachment till the dough combines.
Roll out the dough inside the tart pan with your hands till it covers all the pan bottom and sides. If the dough is sticky it helps to put some flour on your hands. If you prefer roll out the dough on floured flat working area or in-between two parchment papers. Then transfer the rolled out dough into the tart pan and cut any excess dough with a knife above the pan edges.
Pierce with a fork the bottom and the sides of the dough, cover the pan with a plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 15'. This way the tart will not rise while baking, even if no pie weights are used. Preheat the oven at 200°C (390°F) fan forced.
Bake the crust in preheated oven in the middle rack for 13'-15', The crust is ready when it is dry and light golden brown. Let it cool completely at room temperature in the tart pan before adding the lemon filling.
In a bowl safe for double boiler whisk with the eggs along with the sugar and the lemon juice.
Place the bowl with the egg mixture over the double boiler and whisk constantly till the temperature of the mixture reaches 79°C (173°F) and gets a pale yellow colour and becomes thicker and creamier. It should not over cooked, else you will end with a scrambled lemon filling.
Pour the egg mixture in another bowl through a strainer to remove any cooked eggs and add directly the butter cut in small pieces. Whisk till the butter melts completely.
Fold in the lemon zest and fill in the cold curst with the lemon curd.
As soon as the tart crust has cooled down completely, pour the lemon filling in the tart and flatten it using an offset spatula.
Preheat the oven in 190°C (370°F) fan forced. While making the meringue warm the filled pie in the oven.
In a clean bowl of your electric stand mixer add a clean whisk attachment and beat the egg whites on high speed adding gradually the sugar and the vanilla extract. The meringue is ready when it gets stiff glossy peaks and the sugar has been dissolved. If there are still sugar grains into the meringue keep beating a little bit more.
On the warm filled pie place the meringue either using a piping bag or two spoons.
Bake the tart for 6'-8' or till the meringue gets a nice golden pick.
The lemon tart is best served at room temperature. Any leftovers can be refrigerated but the meringue starts to become dry and more tight.
It is important to use cold butter from refrigerator when making the dough for the pie crust. Cut the cold butter in small cubes.
The recipe uses in the lemon filling lemon zest, which is the outer yellow part of the lemon. You should use organic unwaxed lemons to get the zest.
Often lemon pies have a bad smell of eggs. To avoid this use good quality organic eggs, fresh lemons with extra aroma for the lemon filling and pure vanilla extract in the meringue.
For a successful meringue do not let any egg yolk into the whites and use a really clean mixing bowl and whisk mixing attachment, otherwise the egg whites will not foam properly.
If you have any meringue leftovers, just pipe them to meringues. If you like them to be nice and crispy bake them to preheated oven at 100°C (212°F) fan forced for two hours. If you prefer the meringues to be chewy then bake them to preheated oven at 160°C (320°F) for 15' - 20'.