Lemon Meringue Pie
When I think back on the precision with which my mom turned out dinner every night – a meat and three vegetables, hot bread and a dessert – it’s daunting. Clearly, I just get by in comparison as unlike my mother my afternoons are not always spent in the kitchen. What’s for dinner is a fluid concept, changing by the hour! And my guys love pie, as hard as that is for the Cake Mix Doctor to admit, so having a quick pie recipe to whip up at moment’s notice is invaluable.
The veritable lemon meringue pie has been around for ages – and its ingredients are simple – a lemon custard and a basic meringue on top. But for my easy recipe, we are using the zest and juice of a lemon from the fridge and doctoring up a package of lemon pudding mix you keep on the pantry shelf. The pie crust is pulled from the freezer, but you, my friend, make the homemade meringue.
Meringues are just egg whites and sugar, plus a little cream of tartar to help the whites rise to high heights. Unlike hard meringues that are baked at a low temperature to a hard crunch, soft meringues are what you spread on pies and bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned.
Meringues are light, luscious, and easy. But first, a few simple rules:
- Once the eggs are separated and you have the yolks going in the pudding mixture, keep the egg whites in a separate bowl and let them come to room temperature. This will allow the whites to beat to higher heights and make a more beautiful meringue.
- Dollop large spoonfuls of the beaten meringue onto the warm pudding filling using the back of a large spoon to spread the meringue all the way to the crust. It needs to touch the crust all the way around so once it’s baked and cooling it doesn’t shrink back.
- Watch the meringue as you place it in the oven to brown as it browns quickly! And let it cool on the counter away from open windows and doors. Meringues are finicky and don’t like drafts, which cause them to shrink.
- Droplets of moisture – called weeping – may form on the meringue as it sits a day or two on the counter, but they’re harmless.
It’s April, springtime, time for reinventing the classic lemon pie and trying the lost art of making the slightly quirky but always delicious meringue. My mom would approve.
You can find the recipe here