In 7th grade, all of the girls in my school had to take Home EC and all of the boys got to take Wood Shop. I resented this, since I had been cooking as long as I could remember, and at 13, I thought I knew everything that my poor teacher had to show me.
In spite of my generally poor attitude, I did learn things in that class. One of them was this recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie. Though I have tried a number of different recipes over the years, this remains my favorite.
½ recipe Basic Pie Crust
6 Tablespoons (3/8cup) corn starch
1 1/2 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups water
3 large eggs, separated
1 ½ Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons (3/8 cup) fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
Make one half of the Basic Pie Crust as directed. Roll it out in a 13” circle and line your pie plate with it.
Prick the entire surface with a fork, then fold up and crimp the edges decoratively.
Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the crust. Pour in dried beans or pie weights, and bake the crust at 375° for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and the beans and continue to bake the crust until it is a light, golden brown, about another 10-15 minutes. Take the crust-lined pie plate from the oven. Turn the heat down to 350°.
While the crust is baking, start the filling. Mix the corn starch, sugar and salt in the top part of a double boiler. Add the water, stirring with a whisk to avoid lumps. Place the pan over low direct heat and cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until bubbles form and the mixture looks clear.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are thick. Add the hot corn starch mixture in a thin stream as you continue to whisk vigorously. Return the mixture to the top of the double boiler and set the pan over simmering water.
Cover the mixture and cook over simmering water until it has thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and cook another 3 minutes, stirring. Add the butter, lemon juice and grated lemon rind. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.
Prepare the meringue. Using absolutely clean and grease-free beaters, beat the egg whites on medium high speed until frothy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and continue beating until the whites hold very soft peaks. Increase the speed to high. Add the sugar one Tablespoon at a time, as you continue to beat. The meringue should be stiff and glossy.
Mound the meringue onto the lemon filling. Put the pie on the top shelf in the oven and bake 10 minutes or so, or until the tips of the meringue start to brown.
Refrigerate the pie for at least 4 hours before serving. This pie should be eaten the day it is made. The lemon filling will tend to separate if it has been kept for more than 12 – 18 hours. As with all pies that contain eggs, this pie should be kept refrigerated.