California Central Coast Recipes
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie is the classic lemon custard pie. With its lightly baked meringue top, zesty lemon custard filling and buttery pate brisee crust, it is the perfect finish to an elegant dinner. We particularly like it after a lamb entree like a rack of lamb.
This pie is especially good chilled, so even though it is a bit involved to make, you can do it the day before you serve it.
The key is to use fresh lemons when available --it is an Easter Dinner and Spring favorite since California fresh lemons are at their peak at this time. If you like your pie more mellow, look for Meyer lemons. If you like your pie zesty, use Eurekas. Also, if available, use free range eggs, the bright yellow yolks will give the custard a golden yellow color which contrasts beautifully with the baked meringue top.
Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 30 minutes
The crust for an 11 inch Pie Pan
1-1/2 cups All purpose flour
1/8 teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 cup butter chilled and cut into cubes
4 to 6 Tablespoons Ice Water
1-1/2 cups Sugar
8 to 9 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1/8 teaspoons Salt
2-1/4 cups Boiling Water
4 Egg Yolks , beaten (--save the whites for the meringue)
3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 to 1-1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest
4 Egg Whites
1/4 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
4 to 6 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract , preferable Mexican
1 If you are making your own pie shell, blend the flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Using a pastry knife, cut the cubed butter into the flour mixture and continue cutting until the mixture resembles small pea size crumbs. The mixture will not hold together at this point.
2 Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture and gently mix the water in. Sprinkle additional water on top as needed and continue mixing until the mixture just holds together in a ball. Flatten the ball into a half inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to chill.
3 Preheat the oven to 425F
4 After chilling, place the dough disk on a lightly floured surface - or between a couple pieces of waxed paper, rolling from the center of the disk, and giving the disk a quarter turn after each roll, roll out the crust to diameter about 2 inches larger than the pie pan (13 inches).
5 At this point, either pick up the dough by rolling it around your rolling pin, or fold it half and transfer it to the eleven inch pie pan. There should be enough dough to extend all around slightly over the edge of the pan (you can patch any voids with a little piece here and there.)
6 Trim any excess dough, and prick the bottom all around to prevent air pockets from forming. If you like, weigh the bottom of the shell with dry peas or baking beads to keep the crust even (remove these a few minutes before the shell is finished baking).
7 Place the pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. You may need to reduce the cooking time for glass and ceramic pans by 25% since these pans hold heat and continue to cook when removed from the oven.
8 Allow the crust to cool completely before filling.
9 For the lemon-custard filling, blend the sugar, corn starch and salt, in the top of a double boiler. Gradually add the boiling water, mixing the contents well to avoid any lumps.
10 Cook the mixture over boiling water until the corn starch thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat.
11 Temper the beaten eggs by adding to the beaten eggs, a couple tablespoons of the thickened corn starch mixture while beating continuously. Beat the egg mixture back into the thickened corn starch mixture in the pan. Return the pan to the double boiler and continue to cook for another 5 minutes more.
12 Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Taste the mixture and if you like a little more lemony taste, add more lemon zest, not more lemon juice since --this can dilute the custard mixture causing it not to set correctly.
13 Cool the mixture by stirring very gently to allow steam to escape. When cool, pour the mixture into the cold pie shell.
14 Preheat the oven to 325F
15 For the meringue, beat the reserved egg whites until they form still peaks that lean slightly. While beating the eggs, gradually add the sugar. Be careful not to over beat the eggs. When all the sugar is blended in, add the vanilla.
16 Cover the pie with the meringue and with a fork, pull up little peaks of meringue all around the top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes to desired finished.
17 Chill before serving.
Serve this pie well chilled with a sweet white desert wine like a Sauternes or Botrytis Viognier.