Lemon Meringue Pie + Video
After chocolate chip cookies and other such chocolatey things, lemon is my favorite flavor in a baked-good. We've had lemon cheesecake, lemon poppy seed cookies, and a lemon blueberry cake on the blog before. But those were just the introductions and opening acts. Now, it's finally time for the main event: lemon meringue pie! Lemon meringue pie is as classic and beautiful and delicious as a lemon dessert is gonna get.
Oh wait, I almost forgot - I made a video for you. Because this dessert can get a little tricky and finicky, you know? There's just a lot of steps involved - the pie crust, the lemon curd filling, the meringue, the piping... So, to make it a little less daunting, Lemon Meringue Pie Video Tutorial, commence:
*Note: You'll notice that the lemon filling in the video doesn't fill up very much of my pie because I only made half the lemon filling recipe for the video. It looks pitiful. I know this. But what is written out on screen and in the written recipe below is the correct amount you should be making to generously fill up your pie.
The pie you see here is actually the first lemon meringue pie I've ever made. Okay, fine, that's a little misleading.
I've made lemon meringue tartlets before. So the pie you see in the photos, but in miniature. Little tarts, little dollops of lemon filling, cute, little meringue kisses - those tartlets were pretty and perfect. Yep, they were pretty perfect.
But, most people don't own a bunch of tartlet pans. So, solely for practical reasons, I depict a normal sized lemon meringue pie here. But if you do have tartlet pans, please make this exact recipe and divide it between those tartlet pans. Please! They're so cute! And they'll make such an elegant and impressive dessert.
But so is this pie here. It's elegant. And impressive. Every bit as elegant and impressive. And it will certainly make an elegant and impressive dessert. It's just maybe not as cute. Because it's not miniature.
Let's talk about flavor.
The crust of this tart is the same crust I used for my pear and almond frangipane tart. And to quote myself, I described the crust there as a "buttery, sweet pie crust" with a texture that's "firm, crumbly, rich, and cookie-like." And later, I called it the "perfect sugar cookie-like crust."
I stand by my word/s. I stand by my description of this tart crust. It's accurate. Because this really is the perfect sugar cookie-like crust.
But, if you're looking for a shortcut, you can always use a store-bought pie crust. It won't taste as good, but it's half the amount of time and work. And if you make the lemon filling and the meringue, it's still totally considered hand-made from scratch in my book.
Now, for the filling. This lemon filling is a lemon curd that's tangy and rich and creamy. Since the crust and the meringue are sweet, I wanted to break up all that sweetness with some tartness. So I made the lemon curd extra-tangy. But, if you ever make this curd just on its own to be used for other purposes, like spreading it on top of some flaky, buttery homemade scones (something I highly, highly recommend), I would advise you to use one less lemon (the zest and juice) in the recipe.
And the meringue? It's a perfect meringue. Marshmallow-y, airy, and it holds its shape perfectly. If we're getting technical, the meringue here is actually a Swiss meringue. For a Swiss meringue, you place the sugar and egg whites in a double boiler and whisk the mixture till it's warm before whipping it in your machine. This makes the meringue more glossy, stiff, and hold its shape longer. Cool, aye?
For the meringue design, I piped out meringue "kisses" with a star tip (see video). But there's room for personalization here. Get creative. Pipe whatever design you'd like. Or don't pipe out the meringue at all. Just drop a big dollop of meringue onto the pie and spread it around for the classic meringue look you usually see on pies.
But just blowtorch whatever design you end up choosing at the end, because it will make you feel like you have super powers. Or like a firefighter. Same difference.
Lemon meringue tart
Yield: 9, 10, or 11-inch tart/pie pan
2 3/4 cups flour (all purpose or cake/pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, cold and cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks (save all 4 egg whites for meringue)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Zest and juice of three small lemons
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 stick butter, cubed
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
Tart Dough: In a food processor (or by hand), pulse together flour, salt, and confectioner's sugar.
Add in cubed butter and pulse till mixture is crumbly and resembles cornmeal.
Add in vanilla extract and eggs and pulse till dough forms.
Flatten dough into disk, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 30 minutes, until it's cold and hardened.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9, 10, or 11 " tart pan (best if it has a removable bottom) or a pie pan and set aside. The smaller the pan, the more dough you will have left over (you can use the extra dough to make tartlets).
Unwrap dough and work it with your hands to soften it slightly. Flour your surface and the top of the dough.
Roll out dough gently with a rolling pin to a 1/6th-inch thickness, flouring as necessary. Roll dough onto rolling pin and unroll into the tart pan. Lift up the excess dough/overhang while pressing the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart pan so you don't stretch out the dough. Roll your rolling pin over the pan to cut off the hanging dough.
Prick the dough on bottom of pan with a fork to prevent it from puffing up. Press a piece of round parchment paper into the tart and weigh it down with dry rice or beans (again, to prevent dough from puffing up). Bake pie for 45 minutes, or until it is golden brown. You may need to remove the rice and parchment paper after 35 minutes so the bottom of the tart bakes at the same pace as the sides. Let pie cool, then fill with lemon filling.
Lemon Filling: While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, and lemon juice and zest in a large metal bowl. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch and add into egg mixture, whisking to combine. Place the bowl over a simmering pot of water, creating a double boiler. Whisk/stir mixture constantly over a small flame until it thickens (about 10 minutes).
Remove from flame and stir in butter right away until it melts and is fully incorporated. (You may want to strain mixture now; I didn't find it necessary). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside till ready to fill pie. Once crust is cooled, spread lemon filling evenly into it, smoothing the top with a spatula.
Meringue: Place egg whites and sugar into bowl of your electric stand mixer (or any metal bowl) and place over a pot of simmering water, creating a double boiler. Whisk mixture constantly for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (110 F). Transfer bowl to machine fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on high speed for a few minutes until you have a stiff and glossy meringue.
Pipe meringue over tart in any design desired (I used a star tip and piped "kisses"), or simply spread meringue over the filling with a spatula. Blowtorch top to brown it.
On a completely unrelated note, confession time: