Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

lemon-meringue-pie

Let’s talk Lemon Meringue Pie for a minute.

There is something about a silky lemony custard pie piled high with perfectly toasted meringue that screams pure simplicity.

This is classic baking at it’s best, and I do love classic baking.

If you can master the basics you are a great pastry chef in my book.

Sure, rice krispy treats in the shape of a Dinosaur wrapped in fondant with neon lights flashing from an erupting chocolate volcano has it’s place and time; but can you make a perfect lemon meringue pie?

That my friends is the true test.

(Says the girl who cannot make a krispy treat shaped Dinosaur wrapped in fondant with neon lights flashing from an erupting chocolate volcano)

Ok I caaaaaan make one, I just don’t wannnnnnt to (*sticks tongue out)

But seriously, I get so many questions around the lemon meringue pie ~ specifically about why it weeps more than anything else.

I will have to say there is no magic trick to avoid this, in fact there is no trick at all.

The very nature of a lemon meringue pie is that is is going to weep ~ just a little bit!

I’m sorry to burst your hope filled bubble, but I have not yet found a way around this phenomenon at least not while using all natural ingredients like I do in my recipes here at Gretchen’s Bakery.

Sure there was a time many many years ago in a land far far away when I owned a bakery and I used a commercial product for meringue that was super shelf stable (meaning it lasted for days in my display case and/or on your counter top at home~ a bakery retailer’s dream come true!)

But the taste was that of a heavily processed commercial product for meringue that was super shelf stable.

Here I am using real eggs for the custard, real egg whites for the meringue and well….. don’t cry over meringue pie but unfortunately those things weep a bit.

I suppose I do have some tips for making a perfect lemon meringue pie however I don’t feel like they are tricks at all.

It is just the “right way” to do it, and if you do it this way you will have a deliciously lemony, light and airy meringue pie with a flaky pie crust (don’t forget the flaky pie crust!)

The custard is exactly like making a pastry cream, only this is a lemon pastry cream made with water & juice rather than milk.

The thickener is cornstarch which not only thickens for a perfectly “cut-able” custard but also helps to prevent some of that leakage (but again ~ note that it does not eliminate it completely)

The next part is to decide whether you want to make a more stable (and possibly less leaky?) swiss or italian meringue versus the traditional cold preparation meringue (which is what I am using here)

Swiss meringues are achieved by cooking the egg whites & sugar over a double boiler to 120°-140°F then whipping to stiff peaks.

The Italian Meringue is made by pouring a 240°F super boiling sugar mixture into the egg whites while whipping also creating a very stiff peaked meringue.

The latter will hold up for several more days that the traditional cold prep meringue will, and some people feel better about it because the egg whites get cooked too~ win – win!

I’m not afraid of egg whites though, and so I guess for me, I do not try to fight the forces of pastry nature, it is normal for a lemon meringue pie to be a little bit weepy.

Perhaps it is just crying tears of joy for being such a perfect specimen of pastry art 😉

Whichever way you decide to go you will be in Lemon Heaven for sure!


4.0 from 3 reviews
Lemon Meringue Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Prepare the Pie Dough 1 day in advance so it is ready to roll for making the pie shell
Author:
Serves: 1-9" Pie
Ingredients
  • ½ Recipe Pie Dough
  • For the Filling
  • Water 2 cup (480ml)
  • Granulated Sugar 1 cup (200g)
  • Salt pinch
  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice ⅓ cup (approx 6-7 lemons) (80ml)
  • Lemon Zest from 1 lemon (approx 2 teaspoons)
  • Cornstarch ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons (42g)
  • Egg yolks large 3 (54g)
  • Whole Eggs large 2 (100g)
  • Unsalted Butter 2 Tablespoons (28g)
  • For the Meringue:
  • Egg Whites large 5 (150g)
  • Granulated Sugar *superfine is best 1 cup (200g)
  • Cream of tartar ¼ teaspoon
Instructions
  1. Blind Bake the pie shell while you prepare the custard filling as follows:
  2. Combine the water, lemon juice, lemon zest, half of the granulated sugar and salt together in a heavy bottom sauce pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the egg yolks & whole eggs with the other half of sugar and cornstarch and whip to a smooth paste.
  4. Once the water/juice mixture comes to a rapid boil slowly pour it into the egg mixture while whisking constantly.
  5. Return the entire mixture back to the pot and continue cooking while stirring constantly over high heat and return to a rapid boil.
  6. Allow it to bil for about 30 seconds to 1 minute then strain the entire mixture through a mesh strainer into the pre-baked pie shell (Pie shell does not need to be fully cooled)
  7. Next prepare the meringue topping by whipping the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until frothy and gaining volume.
  8. Slowly add in the granulated sugar while continuing to whip to medium firm peaks.Be careful not to over whip.
  9. Click here to see how to know if you have over whipped your egg whites
  10. Pile the meringue on top of the hot custard and spread to the edges.
  11. Use a blow torch *optional to toast the spikes for added flare & dramatic presentation
  12. Bake the entire pie in a 350°F preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until meringue is golden browned
  13. Cool in the refrigerator before serving
Notes
Lemon Meringue Pie should be kept refrigerated at all times for up to 6 days
 

 

 

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19 Comments

  1. I used to have a restaurant and one of our draws was a mile-high lemon meringue pie. I found that it helps to put the meringue onto hot curd, then make sure there are absolutely no gaps between the meringue and the crust. That seal seemed to help the most with the weeping, though it doesn’t totally eliminate it, it will still weep a little.

    Thanks for all you do Gretchen. I wish I still ate sugar, but watching your videos I live vicariously through you. Next bite of treats is for me! 😀

  2. hello! its me Daniel the Dino!

    I ad a HUGE HUGE problem when making the all recipes recipe for lemon meringue pie.
    it might sound outrageous, but i was desperate. lesson learned: try not to substitute too much! the recipe called for 4 egg yolks, but i only had 3, so i searched that you can substitute an egg yolk for one tbs vinegar and one tbs baking soda. I did, and when i added it to the other yolks, it started turning this wired green! tn when I adde3d it to the actual mixture, it tasted super sweet! AND GREEN EGGS AND HAM GREEN! isn’t that just hilarious? i will probably tell this story to my children!

    anyway, thank you so much for really filling in my sweet tooth and being the expet to turn to when in a deep conflict with human vs.humanly edible matter.

    1. Hi Gretchen!
      I have been thinking about buying a kitchen torch but I wonder if it ever gives off a “propane” taste?
      I have been making lemon meringue just like you do for many years and I would be sad if I didn’t see the “dew” drops on top! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us❣

  3. I have a recipe from a 1966 Betty Crocker cookbook that is really similar to yours. I’ve been making that pie for years. It weeps but that doesn’t make it taste any different. Everyone should try it. I don’t have a blow torch. I just bake it for a few minutes in the oven until the meringue lightly browns.
    Thanks Gretchen for all you have taught me.

  4. In the meringue directions you mention adding cream of tartar, however, in the list of ingredients you do not show it. How much cream of tartar do we need to use?
    Thank you!

  5. hi Gretchen

    I love everything about this lemon meringue pie but every time i make it the filling is too soft and the meringue leaks please help

  6. I made this pie and it came out perfect. Not too lemony and like some lemon pies, no egg taste. Light and fresh. Thanks for sharing with us.

  7. I love making lemon meringue pie. It’s one of my family’s favourites. I’ve had the same recipe for years. My recipe calls for whipping the meringue put on top of pie and bake for 15 min. Since then I learned that swiss meringue goes on a hot pie and bake a fee minutes or use a torch. But the meringue isn’t really cooked. Italian meringue is cooked and can go on a cold pie and a torch used used to get it golden brown. It always worked. Live you site.

  8. To avoid meringue from weeping, make sure your filling is very hot when you pile on the meringue. Instead of cooking the meringue for a few minutes, turn down the heat and cook it slowly for maybe 20 minutes. It will be wonderful! Also make sure that when you put the meringue on the pie that it touches the crust all the way around. That way when it wants to shrink, it is holding onto the crust. I always have perfect pies.

  9. Hi Gretchen
    have been enjoying your recipes greatly! Thank you for sharing your vast pastry knowledge with us.
    There is one issue I find in many dough recipes for pies or cookies, that is the thickness to roll.
    Many chefs , in my opinion, need to look at a ruler, most state roll 1/4 inch, when in fact by visual inspection it is actually 1/8th or a bit less in thickness.
    A 1/4 inch thick pie shell is really very thick, but ,again, if this is my only complaint in all the time I have been following you, kudos to you.!
    I love your recipes and have had many compliments when I made and served them!
    My wife loves lemon meringue pie, and of course the weeping has been an issue for me.
    I never thought of using Swiss meringue thank you!!
    thank you again!
    Jim

    1. Hi Jim thanks for the comment and you are absolutely correct in that ¼” seems to be very thick! I just looked at my ruler! LOL goes to show you how we all get caught in habits of doing and saying things that may not be 100% correct! thanks for the insight and Im glad you love the recipes!

  10. I love the recipes and you are a great teacher, the only thing is— I am offended by you using the Lord’s name in vain. If you could refrain from using his name it would be awesome!! Thank you for all that you do.

    1. well there is eggs in it, afterall it is an “egg custard” so this is normal, however you may be super sensitive to it (as others do not find this to be offensive)

  11. Hi! I’ve been wanting to make this kind of pie for a while now, but the egg whites scare me! I came across this recipe and I know I have to try it. My only question is: I have an 11 inch pie pan and a regular 9inch, which one should I use? The 9 inch pan is a bit shallow. Thanks!!! Excited to try this out .

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