Lemon meringue is not an easy pie to make. I recall a friend of a friend once telling the tale of her celebrated lemon meringue pies at a baby shower. Her husband was a doctor and he insisted that she cook from fresh ingredients only. This was more than forty years ago so the man was ahead of his time. He was also a lover of lemon meringue pies and what the dear lady came up with was she put a few lemon seeds into the packaged pie filling to keep the appearance that she made the pie from fresh lemons. We all applauded her ingenuity and thought how silly it was to make a lemon meringue pie from actual lemons! 

I have a few pointers for making REAL lemon meringue pies though. 

Cornstarch is your thickener, not flour. Of course cornstarch is tricky, because when cooked too long cornstarch looses its ability to thicken or to stay thick. If the filling is not thickened in the pot, it will not thicken sufficiently when chilled. It will thicken some, but your pie will end up a runny mess nevertheless. So there is no point to pour a thin filling into the pie shell. Cut your losses and serve the filling as a pudding and top it with whipped cream or use it as a topping for ice cream. For perfect pie filling follow the instructions with precision. 

Now for making the perfect meringue! 

Bring the meringue up on the pastry, because it will shrink back as it cools. Don’t skimp on the sugar, don’t add it too soon and don’t add it all at once. Gradually added sugar strengthens the egg white molecules. So does a pinch of acid such as cream of tartar. But don’t over beat the egg whites, if the molecules stretch too much, when heated, they will pop and drain liquid. One way to tell the difference, well beaten egg whites are glossy, over beaten egg whites are dull. Always bake the meringue in a slow oven. High temperatures destroy the molecular structure of egg whites. Do not under bake the meringue however. A fully baked meringue has the same consistency throughout. If syrup pools from the meringue, it means that the meringue was not fully baked. 

Meringue pies are short lived. They will last three days in the fridge, but will not survive freezing. Contrary to recipes I read, the meringue will not adhere to chilled filling. For the meringue to stick to the filling, either let the hot filling cool down to room temperature first or if chilled, let it come up to room temperature before making the meringue. Once finished, keep the pie refrigerated. For each cut, use a clean, sharp, well buttered knife. [Not a knife dipped into hot water] 

This one is for Tony. 

1/2 batch of Pie Pastry 

1 cup sugar 
1/4 cup cornstarch 
1/2 tsp salt 
4 eggs yolks 
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 
1-3/4 cups cold water 
finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
1/4 cup butter 

5 egg whites, at room temperature 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 pinch of cream of tartar 

• Make the pastry and blind bake the crust at 420F for 15 minutes. 
• Remove the beans or the weights and bake the crust for 15 minutes longer. 
• Remove the pie from the oven and set it aside. 
• In a larger saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and lemon juice. 
• Add the cold water and whisk until blended. 
• Cook over moderate heat, whisking until it comes to a boil. 
• Boil stirring until the mixture thickens, [1 minute]. 
• Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and butter. 
• Stir until the butter is completely melted. 
• Pour into baked pie shell. 
• Immediately cover with a round of parchment paper pressed onto the surface. 
• Let the pie cool down to room temperature. 
• Preheat oven to 325F. 
• In a large bowl combine the 5 egg whites and beat until soft peaks form then gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. 
• Remove parchment paper from top of filling and pile on the meringue. 
• Spread to slightly overlap and seal the fluted edges of the crust. 
• Bake for 15 minutes or until top is pale golden. 
• Cool to room temperature on a rack then refrigerate for 2 hours. 
• Slice with a well buttered sharp knife.

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!