I loved this pie when I was little and my Mom could make meringue that stood up so tall! She taught me all the tricks to making "mile-high" meringue. I will share them with you at the end of the recipe.
My Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled, cut in small cubes or slices
1/4 cup Shortening (I use Crisco)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons ice water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup water
1 cup super fine sugar
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, lard and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the ice water and toss with a fork to blend. Gather the dough into a ball. If excess flour remains, add a few drops more ice water. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for 1 hour in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pastry into a 12 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch pie pan and fold edge under. Then line the pastry shell with a sheet of foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Set pie pan on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake another 5 minutes until bottom firm and light golden, Cool on a rack. I usually brush my crust with an egg white and a little water to keep it from getting soggy.
Filling: In heavy saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the 4 egg yolks and the lemon juice. Add 2 cups cold water and whisk until blended. Cook over moderate heat, whisking until it comes to a boil. Boil, stirring, 1 minute then remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted. Pour into pie shell, cover with a round of wax paper pressed directly on the surface and cool for at least two hours in refrigerator before adding meringue.
Meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Once syrup comes to rolling boil, cook 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside.
With electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl at medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites. Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 5 to 9 minutes.
Using rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches edges of crust. That's an important step so that meringue does not begin to shrink and pull away from crust, leaving a gap.
Use spatula to create peaks all over meringue. Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes or until peaks turn golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. YUM!
Tips for making the perfect tall meringue.....
Always make sure your bowl and beaters are free of any grease or oil. The tiniest speck of oil causes great volume loss.
Always use eggs that are a few days old and make sure they are at room temperature before you use them. If you have to start with cold eggs, put them in a bowl of warm water to bring their temperature.
Don’t use your hands to separate the egg yolk from the whites. I know its the most convenient way for most of us, but oil can wreck a good meringue too! Just use the shells, transferring the yolk back and forth between the two and letting the whites fall into one bowl and the yolks into another.
Use glass or metal bowls and keep your hands out of the bowls and away from any surface that would touch the egg whites. You want no oil whatsoever. Plastic bowls often retain oils from foods and the slightest oil from your hands will not help your meringue.
Add the sugar after the whites have reached the soft peak stage when they're fluffy and when you lift the beater the peaks fold over the beater edge). Superfine sugar works the best when making meringues. (Don’t worry if you don't have this in the pantry because you can make your own using your food processor or blender by pulsing your sugar a few times to break the crystals up into smaller ones).
Your meringue is done when you lift the beater out and the whites stand at attention! Don't stop and take a break during the beating process, start it and work it through and you'll have the perfect mile high meringue for your pies!
By the way, don't put a meringue pie in the refrigerator. Store at room temp under a glass or metal bowl. If you store in the fridge, you'll have leaky, weepy meringue. Enjoy!
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