Lemon pie is a crowd-pleaser, no doubt about it. And when you top it with a lofty meringue, it's assured it will be a huge hit. Don't be afraid to try it; it is easier than you think, and if you want to use a store-bought pie crust, do it!
In this world, there are two kinds of people. There are chocolate lovers, and there are lemon lovers. Chocolate lovers can easily get a fix at the checkout of any grocery store. It may not be Norman Love, but it can do in a pinch.
Lemon lovers have to go a little further to quell their desire. Their lust for lemon is legit. And that itch is harder to scratch. This lemon pie is the Holy Grail of lemon lovers.
The tangy, delicious lemon pie filling is the star of this show! So go right ahead and get a store-bought pie crust if you want. I do not recommend a graham cracker crust for this pie, but Trader Joe's and Pillsbury roll-out pie crusts are pretty good options.
But just in case you want to make your own, I will share the easiest pie crust recipe there is. You do not need cold butter, a rolling pin, or waxed paper. Just pat the oil-based pie crust dough into place with your fingers. The printable recipe card is at the bottom of this post.
The rewards you receive for such a labor of love are enormous, but you will earn them. No step is difficult, but there are three steps. (Unless you buy the pie crust) and there will be dirty dishes. Lots of dirty dishes.
If you've been reading my posts for a while, you know I'm all about making great food. However, I'm also big on quickly getting in and out of the kitchen.
There are exceptions, though. Like when you really, really love someone who loves lemon, you will love making them a lemon pie. If you know they really, really love lemon, you will sacrifice and make this pie for them with love.
OK, it's not the level of sacrifice with what Jack did for Rose when he allowed her to stay afloat on that piece of wood as the Titanic sank. But there will be dishes to wash.
Before you do anything else, separate three large or preferably extra-large eggs right out of the refrigerator cold. It's much easier to separate really cold eggs.
Be deliberate when separating the eggs because you do not want a single speck of yolk left in the whites. Here's a common sense post about how to separate eggs with many great pictures.
Let the whites sit in the bowl while you make the crust and filling. They will whip up in greater volume at room temperature. This will make the meringue stand up taller and look more impressive. If they warm up a bit, they'll whip up whippier and have more volume.
Break up the egg yolks with a fork and beat them slightly.
Lemon pie uses simple ingredients you probably have in your cupboard and refrigerator. I will say that for it. And not one single step is difficult. You can do this!
The filling begins with cornstarch and sugar. Whisk them together in a heavy saucepan, and then add water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. It will develop a thick, translucent sauce-like consistency.
Grab that bowl of slightly beaten egg yolks and bring it to the stove. Pour a small amount of the hot sugar mixture into the bowl of egg yolks.
Immediately, stir it together vigorously with a fork. This "tempers" the egg yolks so they will cook into the filling evenly. Now, you can whisk the egg yolks right into the filling. Cook it for about a minute, whisking constantly.
Remove the saucepan from the stove and set it on a heat-safe surface. Stir in the butter, lemon juice, extract, and peel. The crust is ready to welcome the lemony mixture with open arms. Pour it in and smooth it out.
Here are some things that will make your meringue taller and prettier.
Add the cream of tartar and the vanilla to the egg whites and start whipping. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time. Don't rush this. The sugar needs to dissolve completely. You will be rewarded.
Feel the meringue between your fingers or on your tongue as you go. The sugar should become nearly unnoticeable. It should feel smooth, not gritty.
Stop every couple of tablespoons and scrape down the bowl's sides to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved. I allowed about a minute for each tablespoon of sugar. I used the time between spoonsful to tidy up the kitchen.
Look at that mountain of meringue! Use the back of a smallish spoon to carefully distribute the cloud of meringue gently across the surface of the filling. Leave the center of the pie taller. Leave lots of peaks to brown!
Pay careful attention to where the crust and meringue meet. Make sure the meringue touches and sticks to the edge of the crust. This will prevent the meringue from shrinking away from the edges.
Put the lemon pie in a hot 400-degree oven. I like the rack to be about one-third of the way from the top of the oven.
It will brown quickly; it only takes 8 to 12 minutes. You want the meringue to be a delicate brown with deeper brown peaks.
Take the pie out of the oven and allow it to cool in a spot without a draft. Don't rush this step, either. This helps to keep the meringue from "weeping."
Now, here is the hard part. Let the lemon pie cool completely. It will take a while! The bottom of the pie plate should be at room temperature. Be patient before you even think about cutting into it.
Use a sharp, non-serrated knife. Run the blade under hot water before cutting the pie. It will still taste amazing if the meringue doesn't cut into perfectly Pinterest-worthy servings!
The reward comes from doing something special for someone you love. When you see their eyes light up with joy, the dirty dishes will be long-forgotten!
Do you have someone special who loves something that's a little harder to make? Like a special birthday cake or another treat? I'd love to hear your story!
GB's kitchen is definitely a place where everything is made with love, even the hard stuff!!
If you liked this lemon pie recipe, you are my people! You might also enjoy this coconut pie recipe. So please share this post on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest if you enjoyed this recipe today. It would sure tickle me, and I'd be ever so grateful; thank you!
Love, GB (Betty Streff)
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