Lemon Meringue Pie

Baked 9” pie shell

3 lemons
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar + cup sugar +1 teaspoon sugar (about 1 cups altogether)
2 tablespoons cream
1/3 teaspoon cornstarch
1/3 cup unsalted butter

To prepare filling:

In a bowl combine the zest of 2 lemons and 1/3 cup lemon juice, saving some juice for the meringue.  Set aside. 

In a nonreactive saucepan, beat 3 egg yolks and one whole egg with 1/3 cup sugar until thick. Combine 2 tablespoons cream and 1/3 teaspoon cornstarch and add to egg mixture.  Whisk in lemon mixture and lace pan over medium heat.  Add 1/3 cup unsalted butter bit by bit, whisking constantly until custard coats the whisk.  Pour into a bowl, whisk again, cover and chill.

To prepare meringue:

Preheat oven to 325 F. to 350 F.
Beat 3 egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy.  Beat in teaspoon each lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Gradually add cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. 

Spoon chilled custard into prebaked 9” pie crust.  Mound meringue over filling and swirl into peaks.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, if you think you want it to be a bit on the sweet side, and bake in moderate oven (325 F. to 350 F.) until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Let cool.

Editor’s note:  My Aunt Mabelle, who was the best pie baker I have ever encountered, made the best lemon meringue pie I have ever eaten.  Unfortunately, I do not have her recipe.  She did claim it was best not to make lemon meringue pie on a humid day, since that would contribute to nasty little moisture droplets forming on top of the meringue.   “The Joy” claims this “”beading” is due to excess sugar having been beaten into the meringue.  I have not had enough experience to judge this.  Aunt Mabelle also called recipes “receipts” and served high tea every afternoon, cambric tea for the younger set.  Lots of chances to try her pies.

If you do not want to take a chance on the Williams-Sonoma meringue recipe, you can substitute:

The Joy of Cooking’s  Meringue Topping (for a 9-inch pie)

Preheat oven to moderate:  325 F. to 350 F. 

Whip until they are frothy:

            2 egg whites

Add:

            teaspoon cream of tartar

Whip egg white-cream of tartar mix until whites are stiff, but not dry, i.e. until they stand in peaks that lean over slightly when the beater is removed.

Beat in, one-half teaspoon at a time,  i.e. gradually:

            3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or 4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar)

Do not overbeat.  Beat in:

            teaspoon vanilla.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meringue.

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