PRATIE PLACE

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Perfect lemon meringue pie

This has been perfected over many years of experimentation.


Lemon Meringue pie

Homemade pie shell, cooked (see below)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 more tablespoons sugar for meringue
6 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-2/3 cups water, milk, or a combination
4 eggs, separated - yolks in a small bowl and whites in a larger one
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup lemon juice
grated lemon zest of a lemon (about 2 teaspoons)

Put the first sugar and the cornstarch and salt in a non-stick saucepan and stir together well (eliminating lumps).

Add 1/3 cup of the liquid to the dry ingredients in the saucepan and stir into a very stiff paste. Add another 1/3 cup and stir, and gradually add all the liquid.

Cook over medium heat until it bubbles and then on low heat, stirring constantly, until it's translucent (if you used water) and glossy. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter and the lemon zest.

Stir a couple blobs of the hot mixture into your egg yolks and then stir the egg yolks into the mixture. Add lemon juice and stir. Cook for about a minute and turn off the heat.

Let it cool a bit and pour into the baked pie crust, spreading evenly.

Beat the egg whites on high, adding the 6 tablespoons of sugar gradually. When they're high and glossy, pile them onto your pie.

Cook at 350 until browned a bit (probably 10-15 minutes).

Cool for at least half a day or it will be gloppy! It's better the next day.


Perfect one-crust pie shell recipe

1 cup white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup (or a bit more) water

Mix the two flours and salt. Using a carrot grater, grate the butter into the flour and salt. Add water cautiously -- I add about three teaspoons, toss it with the backs of my fingers, add a bit more, and stop when I can collect it into a ball.

I roll it out immediately with my noodle pin (tapered rolling pin) on one of those non-stick canvas pie surfaces. Fit it in your pie pan, flute the edges, and stab some fork holes in the bottom so steam can escape.

If you need to cook the piecrust first (as in the lemon meringue recipe above) you need to put something in the pie shell while cooking it so it doesn't bubble and slump. There are things you can buy at fancy stores - pie weights, etc. - some people use beans or rice in aluminum foil - experiment.

Cook at about 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.

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