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)
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!
- 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
- Blind Bake the pie shell while you prepare the custard filling as follows:
- 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.
- 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.
- Once the water/juice mixture comes to a rapid boil slowly pour it into the egg mixture while whisking constantly.
- Return the entire mixture back to the pot and continue cooking while stirring constantly over high heat and return to a rapid boil.
- 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)
- Next prepare the meringue topping by whipping the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until frothy and gaining volume.
- Slowly add in the granulated sugar while continuing to whip to medium firm peaks.Be careful not to over whip.
- Click here to see how to know if you have over whipped your egg whites
- Pile the meringue on top of the hot custard and spread to the edges.
- Use a blow torch *optional to toast the spikes for added flare & dramatic presentation
- Bake the entire pie in a 350°F preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until meringue is golden browned
- Cool in the refrigerator before serving