We've held some epic discussions about pie over on The Last Jar's Facebook page. From favorite flavors to the great pie crust debate, this is one topic that The Last Jar's readers love to dish about. And then this question came from a reader this morning:
"Tried to make a lemon meringue pie today. It was a miserable failure. Came out of the pan reasonably thick, so I thought it would cool/set up thicker after baking.
I was wrong.
When I sliced it, it was runny- like the consistency of half and half. I know there was a discussion a while back on The Last Jar about pie. Do you have a recipe I might try?"
And that's when I decided what to make for dessert today.
For the task I pulled out a 1976 edition of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, and right there, in a little sidebar, were these words of advice:
"How to cook cream pie fillings:
Both cooking time and temperature are important when preparing cream pie fillings. Under- and over- cooking cause runny fillings. Set a timer for exact minutes specified in recipe. Cook fillings over moderately high heat. Too high a heat cooks mixture too quickly; too low a heat results in excessively long cooking."
Gosh I love old cookbooks. Here's the recipe:
Lemon Meringue Pie
from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 1976 ed.
9-inch Pie Shell, cooled
1 ½ cups sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (for Gluten-free, substitute with cornstarch)
1 ½ cups hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
½ tsp. grated lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
Meringue (see below)
In saucepan, mix 1½ cups sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over moderately high heat till mixture comes to boiling. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
Stir a moderate amount of hot mixture into egg yolks, then return to hot mixture. Bring to boiling and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add butter and lemon peel. Slowly add lemon juice, mixing well. Pour into pastry shell. Spread meringue over filling (no need to cool the filling); seal to edge. Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool before cutting.
Note: For creamier filling, cook and stir first 5 ingredients 8 minutes over low heat after mixture comes to boiling. Blend in egg yolks as above; cook 4 minutes after mixture boils.
3 egg whites
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
4 Tbsp. sugar
Beat egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff and glossy peaks form and all sugar is dissolved.
The pie turned out almost perfect, although a couple of peaks of meringue almost burned and we didn't wait for it to cool completely before digging in. I did replace the flour with cornstarch to keep it gluten free, so that helped with the setting up, I think.
Have you tried a lemon meringue lately? Any tricks or tips or questions?