The weather has been easing the transition between winter and summer so beautifully the last couple of weeks! What a joy it has been to have the sun shining in the windows! Once this kind of weather hits my mind is flooded with a whole new collection of recipes I want to try. One dessert that makes me think of summer more than anything else is lemon meringue pie. I’ve never made one, so I was excited to give it a whirl! So much fun!
Baking pie is such a lost art. I am so thankful to have a mom that not only taught me how to make a pie, but transferred her love of making them straight over to me. It just seems that there is so much love that goes into making a pie, and when it comes out of the oven I get so excited to cut that first slice and serve it to someone I love.
One of my favorite movies is the completely underestimated Waitress. Jenna, the main character is a waitress at a pie diner in the south. While she joins two other waitresses that work there, she is the heart and soul behind the pies. She creates a new one each day to join the daily specials. Unfortunately she’s caught in a miserable marriage with an extremely controlling husband, and feels depressed when she finds out she’s pregnant. She proceeds to make several new pies throughout the course of her pregnancy.
“I Hate My Husband Pie”–You take bittersweet chocolate and don’t sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel.
“Earl Murders Me Because I’m Having An Affair Pie”–You smash blackberries and raspberries into a chocolate crust.
“I Can’t Have No Affair Because It’s Wrong And I Don’t Want Earl To Kill Me Pie”–Vanilla custard with banana. Hold the banana.
“Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie”–Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. Flambé of course.
I love the types of foods that she relates to her feelings. But what I love most is that even though she feels angry, discouraged, depressed, frustrated, and stuck, she continues to do what she loves. She imagines and creates each day and when she’s doing that, every problem in her world melts away. And even though the baby in her belly is a constant reminder to her of how disappointed she is with her life, when she sees that little baby for the first time, her life is complete and she is undividedly in love. It’s the most precious story and worth seeing. I watch it every few months to remind me of my passion for pies. 🙂
So deciding on lemon meringue was the perfect choice! I have a long-flake pie crust recipe given to me by my teacher here in Bend, Mardia Stoliar that I believe is the best pastry crust I’ve ever tasted or seen. I always need lots of space and plenty of time to make it because I make 10 lbs. at a time and prepare it to freeze. It’s the best to be able to pull out a sheet of pastry dough and whip up a pie! I have to admit I was a bit nervous about the meringue. I’ve worked with meringue before but had never actually topped a pie with it and it seemed a bit intimidating to me. I was so pleased with both the process and the outcome. It was surprisingly a pretty easy pie to make, but looked like I worked on it for hours! I hope you try it! As you take your first bite, take a moment to think about what sort of images or memories come to mind with the taste. You won’t regret it!
Lemon Meringue Pie
Recipe courtesy of “Pie” by Ken Haedrich
Makes 8-10 servings
1 single crust of your choice
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
4 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
big pinch of salt
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Prepare pastry and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour. Roll pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Place in a pie pan and sculpt the edges just slightly higher than the rim. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, then fully prebake and let cool.
- Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium size saucepan, whisking to mix. Add the water, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add the egg yolks, whisking the mixture well. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking virtually nonstop, until the mixture comes to a boil, 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook, whisking nonstop, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, one piece at a time. Immediately pour the filling into the cooled pie shell, jiggling the pan to settle int. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly over the filling, taking care not to leave any gaps or air pockets, to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for up to 1 day if you’re not adding the meringue right away.
- Just before serving, preheat the broiler and make the meringue. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Beat in the cream of tartar and salt. Gradually add the superfine sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time, beating until the whites are thick and glossy, though not dry. Add the vanilla and beat briefly. Mound the meringue over the filling, spreading it so it is domed in the center and touching the crust all around the edge.
- Place the pie on the center oven rack and briefly brown the meringue under the broiler. It will just take a very short time, so don’t walk away from the oven. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and serve right away. Or cover with loosely tented aluminum foil, making sure the meringue doesn’t come in contact with the foil, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
As miserable as Jenna’s life is in the movie, it has the most redeeming ending. Jenna falls completely in love with her little girl and begins teaching her how to bake pies just like her own mother taught her, all the while singing…
Baby don’t you cry, gonna make a pie, gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle. Baby don’t be blue, gonna make for you, gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle. Gonna make a pie from heaven above, gonna be filled with strawberry love. Baby don’t you cry, gonna make a pie, and hold you forever in the middle of my heart.