Good morning, class.
What holiday do we celebrate on March 14th? (Puzzled looks. Furled brows.)
A hint? What might hungry mathematicians eat on the 3rd month’s 14th day? (Suddenly a confident hand shoots up.)
Very good! Yes, class, today we celebrate Pi Day to honor pi, the revered mathematical constant of 3.14 and a trillion more digits.
On Pi Day, we make pie, today a classic recipe from America’s south and heartland, a lemon meringue pie that is citrus-sweet and meringue-light. It earns high marks for deliciousness and is perfect for early spring when we yearn for summer like a classroom longs for recess. It’s today’s homework, an A+ pie.
LEMON MERINGUE PIE
Time-to-table: 1½ - 2 hours
- 1 baked pie shell
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 4 egg yolks
- Zest & juice from 2 lemons
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 egg whites (see TIPS)
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- 1/2 cup super-fine sugar (see TIPS)
Preheat oven to 350F.
FILLING In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, salt and water. On medium heat, cook until mixture bubbles, stirring often; cook for 3 more minutes, stirring continuously. Turn heat off. Whisk yolks in a bowl, then whisk in a half cup of hot mixture, then whisk combined mixture into saucepan (see TIPS). On medium heat, return mixture to a bubble and cook 3 more minutes, stirring continuously. Turn off heat. Add lemon zest, juice and butter, stir until smooth.
MERINGUE In a clean bowl, beat whites, salt and lemon juice til frothy. While still beating, add sugar in a slow stream. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Pour filling into pie shell. With a spoon, arrange meringue around the perimeter, touching but not covering the crust’s edge, then filling the center. Bake for 15–25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 1-2 hours before serving.
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