Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mama's Lemon Pie

Nothing says spring to me like lemons. I don’t even know when their season ends or begins, because they are imported from all over to enjoy year round now. I just know that’s the time of year my Mom started making her pies. We had a lemon tree with lemons the size of grapefruit in California and it seems it was always full, as we had a long growing seasoning. We shared the lucious fruits with everyone from all around. The pies were amazing!

Is there really such thing as enough lemon pie? Never! My beautiful Mother made the best lemon pies in the world. She had “It”. That magic touch for just the right taste. My fondest memories as a child was licking every utensil I could get my hands on when she was finished with them, and always, always getting a special warm bowl of the lemon filling just for me. I will never forget it and I will never have “It”, that is clear. I couldn’t boil water until sometime in my late twenties when I suddenly caught on to this cooking thing. But, I will never stop trying to make my Mama’s lemon pie. I keep trying for a close second. When that happens, I will be happy.

Important Note: Measurements in parenthesis are for 1 pie, if you do not want 2 follow this.

Pie Crust: First let me say that there are so many good pie crusts on the market. If you are so inclined, buy your pastry. This pie will be delicious either way.
This will make 2--9 inch crust. For one crust, use first measurements in parenthesis.

(1 1/8) 2 1/4 cups AP Flour

(½ ) 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

(1 ) 2 sticks Ice Cold unsalted Butter, cut into pats

(3 to 5) 6 to 10 tablespoons Ice Cold Water

Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor and pulse until crumbly, but not sand. Leaving some pellet sized pieces of butter, makes for a flaky crust. If you are doing this by hand, add ingredients to a bowl and blend to crumbly pellets with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers. Add one tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing or blending after each addition. Continue until it starts to form a dough. Gather pastry dough and press together with your hands. Divide the dough in half if you are making 2 pies, form into balls and then flatten into disks and wrap with plastic cling. Refrigerate for at least 40 minutes or more.

Preheat oven to 375.

Flour a clean, even surface and roll out dough into 11” circles. Allow cold pastry to soften a bit if rolling is difficult. Fold circle in half and again and place into pie pans. Unfold and straighten in pan, leaving an overlap. Fold overhang under edge neatly and pinch dough between fingers all the way around or use a fork and press into dough edge. Repeat, if making 2.

Pick bottom of pastry with a fork and blind bake shell (s) for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly brown. Set aside to cool and make filling.

Pie Filling:


(3) 6 egg yolks

(1 ½) 3 cups sugar

(1/3) 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

(1 ½) 3 cups water

(3) 6 tablespoons butter or margarine

(1) 2 tablespoon grated lemon peel

(½) 1 cup lemon juice


Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.

In a bowl, stir egg yolks with fork and set aside. In medium saucepan, add sugar and cornstarch and gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles. Boil and stir for about a minute more.

Gradually, stir some of the hot mixture into egg yolks to temper eggs. This keeps them from cooking and scrambling. Now, pour the tempered mixture back into the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes and remove from heat. Add in butter, lemon juice and zest of lemon. Pour into pie crust.

(3) 6 egg whites

(½) 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

(6) 12 tablespoons sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

In a stand mixer bowl or in a bowl, if using a hand mixer or whisk, beat egg whites with cream of tartar on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Add vanilla. Pile meringue onto pie and spread meringue to edge of pie to prevent it from pulling away. Swirl with spatula to form a peak.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with sugar crystals while still hot. Cool for at least 3 hours on counter. Refrigerate until served.

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