The story of this week’s blog post starts with the ground, some underripe peaches, and a pie plate that is miraculously still in one piece. Originally, I had planed to do peach pie for this post because my Great-Grandmother’s recipe for pie is amazing! However, before I could get pictures of my peach pie, it ended up on the ground. I was going to make a replacement, but the peaches I got were far too underripe. This led to my alternate plan. Another family-favorite summer recipe. My Great-Grandma’s lemon meringue pie.
I started this pie by making the basic pie crust recipe, which is the same one that I used for the doomed peach pie. In fact, you can use this crust recipe for almost any pie, just double the recipe if you need both a top and bottom crust. This crust is used on all of my family’s pie recipes, from light summer pie, to rich Christmas pie. The secret ingredient? Shortening. By using shortening instead of butter, you simplify the process by cutting out any chilling time. Shortening also lends a more flaky texture to your pie crust, which is a good thing!
I started making the crust by adding 1 1/4 cups of flour flour and 1/3 cup of shortening to a bowl. Then came my favorite part, which is breaking the shortening into pea-sized bits with my hands. There is something very satisfying about this process. I then added 4 tablespoons of water. This may have been a bit much. I think that 3 tablespoons may have worked better because the crust ended up being just a bit too wet. I then poked holes in the crust with a fork to keep it from bubbling up, and put the crust into a 450℉ for about 10 minutes.
I then started on this filling. This step, once again, incorporates cooking egg in a custard. I started by adding 1 1/4 cup boiling water to 1 1/4 cups of sugar and 5 tablespoons of flour. I then cooked this until it was thickened. Again, this recipe did not tell what they meant by “thick,” so I just cooked it until it coated the back of a spoon. This is generally a good bet when making a custard-like dish. However, my filling did not set as well as I would have liked, so I probably should have cooked it just a minute or two longer. Then came the tricky bit, adding in the beaten eggs. I took about 3/4 cup of hot sugar and carefully added it to the 3 egg yolks. I then added the whole thing into the rest of the sugar mixture. It was a success! No eggy bits! I then added two lemons worth of zest and juice, 1/4 teaspoon of salt salt, and 1 tablespoon of butter. I cooked this mixture for 2 more minutes.
Once the filling was done, I then started on the meringue. This meringue started with the three egg whites left over from the yolks in the filling. I really like that this lines up. It always feels horribly wasteful when you only use part of the egg and end up throwing the other part out. Egg-related distractions aside, I whipped the egg whites for 1 minute before adding 6 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla. I used Puerto Rican vanilla, which gives the meringue a bit of a coconut-y flavor, but you can use any vanilla. It is important, however, not to skip the cream of tartar. The acidity of this ingredient helps to stabilize the egg whites so that you get that nice silky meringue. I then whipped this ingredients for 4 minutes until the mixture I achieved stiff peaks.
Once I had all the components done, I added the filling to the crust and spread the meringue over the top. I then used the back of my spatula to form those nice little peaks that get all golden and crispy. Once the meringue had been completely sealed around the outer edge, I popped the whole thing in a 350℉ for about 12 minutes.
Overall, this went really well. I think it was a great replacement to the unfortunate peach pie. I cut the first piece a little early, so it was a bit runny. However, after I gave it time to set up, the texture improved. If you decide to make this, make sure the pie is completely cool before you cut into it. was still a bit more runny that I would have liked, so I would probably cook the filling longer in the future. Filling consistency aside, this pie is an amazingly light and fluffy summer dessert. I would recommend it!