By Rosie Hawthorne on March 7, 2023
Call me irrational, but I love National Pi Day (March 14 or 3/14) and in honor of the day, I’m making PIE – a lovely and luscious lemon pie which heralds the spring season and celebrates the never-ending occasion. This pie has a cool, creamy, and tart lemon custard filling with a gently toasted, billowy, cloud-like meringue topping. It’s both light and decadent – the perfect dessert.
Some pie recipes, like this one, require pre-baking or “blind-baking” the crust, which means baking the crust first without any filling in it. When pre-baking a crust, I always crimp it to give it nice scalloped edges to avoid slumping and I fork-prick the bottom of the crust to avoid air pockets bubbling and the bottom puffing up. I use a glass pie dish and chill the dough before blind-baking. Heat oven to 325° and bake the crust about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch the crust since oven temperatures vary. Timing will also vary depending on whether you use a store-bought crust or homemade crust because of the differing fat contents. Just bake it and keep an eye on it.
Whisk ingredients in a medium-size heavy sauce pan.
For the lemon custard:
Whisk yolks until light and lemon-colored, then whisk in milk and lemon juice until well-combined.
Whisk into dry mixture in sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Bring to a boil and whisk for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter and zest until smooth. Pour custard into baked piecrust.
Next, make the meringue for the topping. But first, a few caveats:
Rosie Tip #1: When beating egg whites, always have them at room temperature to allow for maximum volume.
Rosie Tip #2: Don’t let any egg yolk get into the bowl of whites – not even a drop. The fat in the yolks will coat the proteins in your whites and you won’t be able to properly whip the whites to make meringue.
Rosie Tip #3: Use a glass bowl to whip your whites, not plastic. Plastic bowls tend to develop a thin coat of oil over time. Again, the fat here will prevent the whites from properly forming bubbles.
Rosie Tip #4: Weather affects meringue, so avoid making meringue on a rainy or humid day. The excess moisture in the air is absorbed by the meringue, making it almost impossible to beat it enough to form stiff peaks, making it take a lot longer for the meringue to dry out in the oven, and making the meringue too soft even after baking.
For the meringue:
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
Spread meringue over pie filling, sealing edges. I always like to make decorative swirls with the meringue.
Bake at 325° 20-25 minutes, or until peaks are lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack, then refrigerate.
To serve, take the circumference, divide by the diameter, and have yourself some pi!
For any culinary questions, feel free to e-mail me at RosieHawthorne@gmail.com. Bon appétit! For more Rosie’s Recipes on the Outer Banks Voice click here