All By Himself

Nothing compares to the homemade pies made from scratch.

Nothing.

Well, OK… Fine.

I will admit to one brand.  Edward’s Lemon Meringue Pie.

Edward’s Lemon Meringue Pie is my husband’s favorite pie.  His face radiates with excitement like a little boy receiving his favorite treat each time there’s a slice of Edward’s Lemon Meringue Pie in front of him.

After all these years and countless of Edward’s Lemon Meringue pies, it never occurred to me to ask him why he loves this pie so much?  So one day, I asked him…

“So… tell me Honeyko.  Why do you love Edward’s Lemon Meringue Pie so much…?”

“On Sunday mornings, when I was a kid, my dad would go to the grocery store and buy Edward’s Lemon Meringue pie…  When he got home, he’d place the pie in the refrigerator to thaw. And then… he’d wait until that evening when the pie is thawed and ready…”

“Pie on the table… He’d slowly pull the brown oak chair… slowly wiggle his body into the chair until he is comfortable… take a deep breath and slowly pull the pie closer to him.  Fork in his hand, he slowly devours the pie all by himself.  My brother and I will be slightly hiding in the far corner, watching him… He’d eat that lemon meringue pie, bite by bite.  We gulped and swallowed our saliva each time he took a bite.”

“Did he knew you and your brother were watching…?”

“Yes, he knew…”

“And he did not offer you and your brother any?” I couldn’t believe that a parent wouldn’t share food with his kids.  Even animals shared food with their babies!

“Nope, he did not! And we didn’t ask.  If he didn’t offer us any, that means he did not want us to have some at all.  He bought that pie for himself… all for himself!”

I have never made lemon meringue pie before.  I was content in eating the store bought ones like we’ve been doing all these years.  But, I’m like a cat… highly curious and always patting my paws on things.  Of course my OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(self diagnosed) also helps a great deal.  I don’t leave things well enough alone.  Not a good thing sometimes.  My
husband hates it when I keep changing and altering recipes he liked, even when thinks I have perfected it.

Two years ago, few days before Thanksgiving, I decided to try my hands on making my own lemon meringue pie from scratch.    I was very surprised how my first lemon meringue pie came out unbelievably delicious.  The filling had a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness.  We quickly gobbled it up in one day.  So… I had to make another one for Thanksgiving.

I discovered that most people shy away from making lemon meringue pies.  I found that most people make lemon meringue pie only after they have gained enough knowledge, experience and confidence in making the other types of pies.  Most people’s fear lies on the very temperamental meringues… and keeping the crust from being soggy once it’s filled.

“Making a pie is the ultimate test of a good cook, it shows technique and heritage,” according to Susan Westmoreland, food editor of Good Housekeeping Magazine.

For those of you who are avid fans of Food Network’s Emeril Lagasse, Alton Brown or Tyler Florence… they are very specific on their instructions:  keep the mixing bowl oil and lint free… or the egg whites are not going to expand… have the egg whites at room temperature before beating… so you can be assured of volume…

For me… is not so much the fear of making the meringue… but rather simply that it just did not occur to me to make it myself…

Nostalgic Lemon Meringue Pie

1 Prebaked Best Pie Crust Ever – see recipe below
4 ginger snaps (cookies) – crushed

Spread the crushed ginger snap cookies on the bottom of the prebaked pie crust. Set aside.

Lemon Custard Filling:
1¼ cup granulated sugar
6 TBSPs. Cornstarch
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1½ cup cold water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 small lemons)
5 large egg yolks, well beaten
2 TBSPs. Coconut oil or unsalted butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 TBSP. Lemon zest

In a 4 quart sauce pan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt using a whisk.

Turn the heat to medium.

While whisking the sugar and cornstarch mixture, gradually add the cold water. Stir in the lemon juice.

Blend in the well beaten egg yolks.

Keep whisking the mixture until it comes to a full boil.  Boil for 3 minutes or until thick in consistency.

Remove pan from the heat and stir in the coconut oil or butter until well incorporated with the lemon custard. Add the vanilla extract and grated lemon zest. Whisk until well blended.

Pour lemon custard into the prebaked pie crust, while still piping hot.  Set aside while you make the meringue.

NOTE:  Before beating the egg yolks and blending into the cornstarch mixture… remove the chalazae – a white fibrous cord on each end of the yolk that stretches through the whites. This white cord prevents the yolk from bumping against the shell. And this white cord is a bit chewy when cooked and I definitely do not want this in my lemon custard.

For the Meringue:

Cornstarch paste:
1 TBSP. cornstarch
1 TBSP. granulated sugar
½ cup water

In a small sauce pan, combine cornstarch and granulated sugar. Gradually add the water and stir until cornstarch and sugar dissolve and form into a runny paste.

Turn the heat to medium.

Keep stirring the cornstarch mixture until it starts to boil and form into a clear slightly thick paste. Cover the pan and remove from the heat.  Set aside while you make the meringue.

The Meringue:

5 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 small lemon (about 1 tsp.)
¾ cup granulated sugar

Wash the mixer bowl with hot soapy water.  Rinse thoroughly and shake water off the bowl.

Place bowl in the electric mixer and attach the wire whisk.

Add egg whites and beat on high speed until foamy.

Add cream of tartar and vanilla extract.  Continue beating on high speed until soft peaks form – about 2 minutes.

Gradually add the sugar, while the mixer is running on medium speed.  Beat on high speed again until peaks are firm and glossy, but not too dry. (This will take about 1 minute.)

Reduce the speed to low and add the cornstarch paste, one tablespoon at a time.  Beat on medium speed for another 15 seconds.

Adding the cornstarch paste to the meringue reduces shrinkage and will keep the meringue from collapsing.

Spoon the meringue over the hot lemon custard, slight pressing the meringue to make sure it is touching the custard and crust and also filling any gaps.

If you do not like too much meringue… you may only use half or three fourths of the meringue to cover the lemon custard.

Use the back of the spoon to create an attractive design on the meringue.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 7 – 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.  This will take about 3 hours.

Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Best Pie Crust Ever

(Yield two pie crusts)

Crust:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 cup coconut oil or vegetable shortening

1 large egg

1 tsp. vinegar

2 TBSPs. Cold water

Combine flour and coconut oil or vegetable shortening. Blend with a pasty cutter until mixture resembles coarse sand.

Beat the egg, vinegar, and cold water  to gether. Drizzle over the flour mixture.  Stir with a fork until the dough is a little sticky, but not gooey.

Divide the dough in half and form into large balls.  Place each ball, separately in a large ziploc bag.  Flatten each ball into a round disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While waiting for the dough to chill…

Lightly grease the glass pie pan or pans, if you are baking more than one pie, with a nonstick spray, butter or coconut oil.  I usually grease the glass pie pan with 1 tsp. coconut oil.  I use a pastry brush to spread the oil on the bottom and sides of the pan.

Remove pastry dough from the refrigerator. Work with one dough at a time.

Lightly rub flour on the rolling pin.  Roll each dough into a 12 inch circle.

Lightly rub flour on the rolling pin again and carefully wind the circle of dough with the rolling pin.

Unroll the dough, loosely, over the glass pie pan. Then carefully press the dough into to the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim excess dough that hangs over the pan, leaving about ½ inch.  (If the dough tears while unrolling and or pressing the dough on the pan, simply use the excess dough to patch any tears or holes.)

Crimp the edges by pressing it with a fork or pressing it with your finger.

Using a fork, prick several holes on the bottom and sides of the crust.

Prebaking the Pie Crust for the Lemon Meringue Pie or other single crust pies:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line the pie shell with either one of these:  parchment paper, waxed paper or aluminum foil.  Fill the shell three quarters full with dried beans.

Bake pie shell in the preheated oven at 425°F for 10 minutes.  And, then reduce the heat down to 350°F and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove the faux filling – dried beans and the lining from the pie shell.

Return the pie shell into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Remove crust from the oven and cool.

The crust is now ready for filling.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

Tess

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2 thoughts on “All By Himself

  1. I’ll admit, I too lov Lemon Meringue pie. Well, that along with Key Lime, and my favorite, Coconut Cream, all good summer-time pies. lol We don’t eat pies as often, probably because there’s more work involved then mixing up a batch of cookies or a cake. And the good thing about Edward’s brand, is you can buy just a slice or two, not the whole pie. Cause who can just stop at one piece? lol Tess, I’m with you on the fact that the filling must have the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. So important for the success of the pie. Thanks for the lesson about removing the chalaza, the white cord. Never knew what it was called, but I do know my kids think it’s gross, and remove it when making scrambled eggs. And I’m assuming that you but the beans into the uncooked pie shell so that it doesn’t puff up during baking? Oh, and do tell me, why the 4 crushed ginger snap cookies on top of the baked pie crust?

    With Father’s Day being next week, maybe I will give this pie a try. Bet me dad would enjoy a slice of pie. 🙂

    • You’re right. I was at the store the other day and I saw that there is also Edward’s Turtle Pie and Boston Cream Pie… 🙂

      You’re welcome, Tess. I found out about chalazae four years ago.

      Yes. the beans are placed on the pie shell when prebaking to keep it down…

      The crushed ginger cookies at the bottom of the pie crust, before filling with the lemon custard gives the pie a nice twist…

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