May 2020…I wanted to do something extra special for my mom on this COVID-19 Mother’s Day. Upon my ask, she requested a Lemon Meringue Pie for Mother’s Day! So, I went to work.
I spent a lot of time comparing Lemon Meringue Pie recipes and consulted with a few friends, before deciding on one. I landed on Maria’s* Lemon Meringue Pie, which is published in the Slavic Home Cooking cookbook
(copyright 2007). This cookbook is a collection of recipes compiled by the American Slavic Women’s Club of Seattle. *Maria Vukov is from the Island of Zlarin, in Croatia. She came to the United States in 1936 and settled in West Seattle, a neighborhood where many Croatians lived. Maria is the beloved mother of Sonja Rossman, and grandmother of Lisa Rossman, my dear friends.
This recipe is complex and easy, all at the same time. To simplify, and offer a better chance for success, I suggest that all ingredients are measured out, and that all tools (bowls, mixer, whisks, measuring spoons, etc.), are easily accessible before any action takes place. This recipe has a lot of moving parts, and when things get going, it all moves very fast.
Prepare Pie Shell: I suggest you begin with a prepared 9” pie shell; I baked mine the day before. I have also made this pie in large pre-made graham cracker crust. Either works.
1-9” baked pie crust OR 1- 9” Graham Cracker Crust
- 4 eggs, separated
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1-2 lemons which will yield:
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2-3 Tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon cream of tarter
- ½ cup super fine granulated sugar (NOTE: regular sugar can be refined by putting it in a food processor for a minute or so)
Directions to Make This Pie
- Making the Lemon Filling Beginning with Separating the EGGS
- Separate the eggs using three bowls;
- Whites need to be completely devoid of any egg yolks.
- How to and why use three bowls? Click here to learn more.
- Put the whites in the bowl you will whip them in, then place this bowl of whites in the fridge to keep cold; whites beat best when cold.
- Whisk the yolks in a separate bowl so they are well-combined.
- Separate the eggs using three bowls;
- Grate the lemon rind (Zesting with a microplaner is my preferred method).
- Squeeze lemons to equal 1/3 cup juice and fish out the seeds.
- Make the MERINGUE
- I suggest you prepare the meringue (egg whites) before preparing the hot lemon mixture. This way the meringue will be ready when the lemon mixture is piping hot, and adhere.
- Begin beating egg whites on medium-high speed until quite foamy (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add cream of tartar to egg whites, which helps strengthen the bonds of the egg whites; increase mixer speed to high.
- When the meringue starts thickening, begin adding sugar in a steady, slow, very thin stream while beating.
- The meringue is ready when it is white, glossy, and holds a stiff peak; another way to know the whites are done is to remove the beater and turn it sideways; egg white meringue should stay in place.
- Set aside.
- Making HOT LEMON MIXTURE
- Combine the dry ingredients in a heavy saucepan.
- Stir to combine them.
- Whisk in 1 cup cold water quickly, to avoid lumps. This will allow the cornstarch to dissolve properly.
- Set aside.
- Bring the flour water mixture to a simmer, over medium heat, stir this constantly, bringing the mixture to a simmer….this will take a few minutes
- Prepare 2 cups of boiling water.
- Slowly, add the boiling water to this mixture, stirring all the while.
- Remove from the burner.
- Adding EGG YOLKS to Hot Mixture
NOTE: This step is critical so not to create scrambled eggs!
- Give the egg yolks another whisk in the bowl.
- Pour about half a cup of the hot flour mixture into the egg yolks.
- Whisk to combine.
- Repeat this step. This technique will temper the eggs before adding them completely into the boiling mixture.
- Now, slowly whisk the egg mixture into the hot flour mixture.
- Return the saucepan to the burner on medium heat,
- Bring this mixture to a full boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred (Stir constantly).
- Continue to cook 2-3 minutes in this boiling state, continue stirring.
- Remove from heat.
6. Adding LEMON Juice and Zest
- Whisk lemon juice and lemon zest into the hot mixture.
- Whisk until completely smooth again.
- Making the PIE with Hot Lemon Mixture and Meringue
- Pour the hot lemon mixture into the baked pie shell.
- Spread the meringue around the edges…make sure it makes contact with the pie crust. This will ensure the meringue will not slide around or get watery.
- Pour the remaining meringue on the pie and spread around to cover the lemon part. (I used the back of spoon to create peaks).
- BROWNING Meringue
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place pie in oven for about 5-7 minutes, until the meringue browns.
- Keep an eye on it constantly
- TIP: I put the pie on a cookie sheet to remove more easily from the oven.
Lastly….This pie needs to cool in the refrigerator for many hours…and best if you can leave it overnight. I have been tempted to cut into it, after 3-4 hours, and it didn’t hold. Here is a picture of “success” after an overnight cooling. It’s delicious worth the effort!
Do you want to read more about the history of Lemon Meringue Pie?