The Recipe: A long-time favorite pie in the South and the Midwest, especially among men. Not too sweet, not too sharp, a classic!
The Conversation: What holiday do we celebrate on March 14? Hint, it's Pi Day!
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, cooled
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 3-1/2 tablespoons (35g) cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1-1/2 cups (335g) water
- 4 large egg yolks
- Zest & juice (about 4 tablespoons) from 2 lemons
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 4 large egg whites (see TIPS)
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
- 1/2 cup super-fine sugar (see TIPS)
Heat oven to 350F.
LEMON FILLING In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, salt and water. On medium-low 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-low 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 or cream of tartar until frothy. While still beating, add sugar in a slow stream. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
COMBINE 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 10 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 1-2 hours before serving.
What Makes a Lemon Meringue Pie So Yellow?
Is it the lemon juice? No, there's not enough color in lemon juice to create such rich color in the Lemon Filling. Give up? It's the egg yolks! The more yellow the yolks, the more yellow the "Lemon" Filling. Sweet, eh?!
This is my contribution to the pie recipes collecting from across the world here on Kitchen Parade, all to celebrate Pi Day and the wonder that is homemade pie with homemade pie crust.
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