What we know today as the Lemon Meringue Pie, is a cousin to the lemon curd that was typically served with scones for afternoon tea in 19th century England. The curd was homemade and composed of beaten egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. The mixture was cooked until thickened and then allowed to cool before eating. Lemon Meringue Pie is one crust pie that has a lemon curd filling and a meringue topping.
You can find all sorts of recipes for Lemon Meringue Pie. In the truest sense, a pie with a lemon filling and a meringue topping, is a Lemon Meringue Pie. However, not all recipes have lemon curd as the filling. Some have a lemon filling which isn’t lemon curd at all. Authentic lemon curd contains no milk and is a little translucent in appearance. Lemon curd tends to be a little more sharp than other lemon fillings. The milk tones down the sharpness of lemon. If your taste preferences is more along the lines of mellow versus sharp, then the lemon filling with some type of milk, usually sweetened condensed milk, might be more to your liking. An Old Fashioned Southern Lemon Icebox Pie is a recipe that you might want to try. If you love the natural sharpness of lemons, a traditional Lemon Meringue Pie should make you a happy, happy person. Since I have such an affinity for sweets, I love each type of pie just the same. But, then again, I love pies in general. Who am I kidding? I love sweets in general.
Authentic Lemon Meringue Pies are basically the same. When you only have a few ingredients in the filling, there’s not a lot of room for innovation. The first Lemon Meringue Pie I ever made was from the Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book that I received as a wedding gift 36 years ago. I still use that same recipe today. The pie is a three-step process: crust, filling and topping. It might be a tad bit more labor intensive than most pies but the results don’t disappoint.
Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
dash of salt
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 9-inch baked pastry crust – cooled
For meringue topping:
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
In a saucepan, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Gradually add hot water and stir constantly. Cook and stir over high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. This shows how the mixture should look.
Temper the egg yolks by stirring in a small amount of the hot sugar mixture.
Add tempered eggs to hot mixture in pan. Bring to boil, cook for 2 minutes, stir constantly. Add butter and lemon zest. Slowly add lemon juice mixing well. Add mixture to cool pie crust.
Spread meringue over filling making sure the entire surface of the filling is covered. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until the meringue is nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool before cutting. To make meringue: beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff and glossy peaks form. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until sugar is dissolved.