Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

How was your Easter? Like I mentioned before, I spent my Easter weekend in Colorado surprising my future in-laws. I think we caught them a bit off-guard when suddenly their dinner plans had to expand from two to twelve people. Knowing that I’m such a fan of baking, Farrell’s mom put me (mostly) in charge of baking dessert.

There was no question about what to bake. Farrell has raved about his mom’s lemon meringue pie several times. We even tried to make it ourselves once, and the whole time that we were messing up steps, rushing around the kitchen to whip the egg whites just right, cool the meringue just right, make the pie dough just right, he reminded me that his mom had the timing and technique perfected. That pie did not come out so well.

This pie? Bright, tart, and everything a lemon meringue pie is supposed to be.

And as a special treat to the foodie in me, Farrell picked up meyer lemons, without even realizing the special place they hold in the food blog world. It just happened to be the only fresh lemons Walmart was selling.

The secret to this pie was a tried and true recipe from a (well-used) copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Dessert cookbook.

(The caption says: “A quick way to a reputation as a good cook: Make a luscious pie!”)

I spent a decent amount of time exploring the rest of this book. It was fun to see what the popular desserts were back then (it was originally printed in 1962), like the classic ambrosia salad (and its many variations), and a whole chapter on using the revolutionary technology of time-saving cake and pudding mixes. There was an entire cake recipe that just consisted of preparing a box of cake mix, frosting it with a box of prepared pudding mix and decorating it with bits of a store-bought chocolate toffee bar.

I can appreciate the role that cake mixes played in helping housewives and stay-at-home moms entertain more easily back in the old days, considering that normal day-to-day responsibilities were different. But now that I can simply load up a dishwasher instead scrubbing dishes all day, flip a switch on my robotic vacuum (I don’t have one of those, but aren’t they cute!?) and walk a whole two block outside of my house to pick up any ingredient or other necessity I’m craving, I don’t much see the point in mixes anymore.

My (still developing) food mantra encourages that dishes be made from scratch as often as possible. Sometimes the dishes fail miserably, but there’s always a satisfaction in eating the fruits of my labor.

And so, with all of that rambling put aside, here’s some classic and delicious pie. Make this and you will definitely impress your friends and family, but prepare yourself in advance for the wave of compliments you will receive (especially if you’re prone to blushing like me!).

– Classic Lemon Meringue Pie – from Better Homes and Gardens Dessert cookbook
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp flour
dash salt
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks (we upped this to four yolks)
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 9-inch baked pastry shell
3 egg whites (again, increased to four)
1 tsp lemon juice
6 tbsp sugar

(These directions are exactly as they were printed in the book and we followed them exactly as such. For the pie shell, you can use either store bought or just bake a batch of your favorite recipe. Make sure it’s completely cooled before pouring in the filling.)

– Combine first 4 ingredients; blend in water. Bring to boiling over high heat; stirring constantly. Reduce head to medium; cook and stir 8 minutes more. Remove from heat.

– Stir small amount hot mixture into egg yolks; return to hot mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add lemon peel and butter. Stir in 1/2 cup lemon juice. Cover entire surface with clear plastic wrap; cool 10 minutes. Pour into cooled pastry. Cool.

– Beat egg whites with 1 tsp lemon juice till soft peaks form. Gradually add 6 tbsp sugar, beating till stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Spread over filling, sealing to edges of pastry. Bake at 350 F 12 to 15 minutes. Cool.