Rosie’s Recipes: Pi and Pie –  Oh My!

By on March 7, 2023

(Photos By Rosie Hawthorne)

By Rosie Hawthorne | Outer Banks Voice

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.

Lemon Meringue Pie

  • 1 pie crust, baked until lightly browned  (Either make your own or use the refrigerated, roll-up pie doughs.  I don’t recommend frozen pie crusts.)

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.

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 5 TB cornstarch
  • ⅛ tsp salt

Whisk ingredients in a medium-size heavy sauce pan.

For the lemon custard:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 ¾ cups milk (I never have whole milk on hand, but I always have skim and cream.  Usually, I mix the skim and cream half and half, for a richer version of whole milk.)
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 3 TB butter
  • Zest of one lemon

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:

  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

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!


(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

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