Monday, November 21, 2011

Pie Baking Time

I love to bake pies this time of year.  Lemon Meringue is a favorite of many.  I have found this recipe is my best one:

Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

Pie Crust (makes one standard 9-inch pie crust)
Preheated oven of 400 degrees

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon fine salt
¼ cup cold, unsalted butter
¼ cup Crisco
¼ cup cold water
1 egg white beaten

Butter a 9-inch pie plate and set it aside.
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Cut the butter and Crisco into the flour mixture until it resembles small pea size pieces.  Sprinkle cold water over the mixture and toss with a fork.  Gather the dough together into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or longer.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between two pieces of waxed paper until it is large enough to fit the pie plate with an inch of overhang.  Fold the excess dough under and crimp the edges or press the edges down with the tines of a fork.
Tear off a piece of foil about 20 inches long and place it in the pie crust leaving long “wings” on either side.  You will use these wings later as handles to lift out the pie weights.  Fill the foil with either metal pie weights or dry beans (which are reserved only for this purpose, you can’t eat them later).  Bake in a preheated, 400 degrees oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the pie crust from the oven, using the “wings” on the foil carefully remove the weights and foil, set aside, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Take a fork and prick the pie crust all over, about 10 or 15 times.  Put the pie crust back in the oven for another 15 minutes.  Take the pie crust out and paint the entire surface of the crust with the beaten egg white, this is what will keep it from getting soggy.  Put the pie crust back in the oven for 2 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place the pie shell on a rack to cool while you make the filling.

Lemon Filling

1 cup white sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
A pinch of salt
1 ½ cups cold water
3 egg yolks, beaten (save the egg whites for later)
Grated peel of one lemon
¼ cup FRESH lemon juice
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix the cornstarch, sugar, salt, water, and egg yolks together in a sauce pan and place over medium heat.  Stirring mixture constantly, bring it to a boil (about 8 to 10 minutes) then reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook and stir the mixture for one minute or so until it becomes very thick.  Turn off the heat and remove the sauce pan from the burner. Now you can add the lemon juice, lemon zest and butter stirring the mixture until it is smooth.  Pour the hot filling into the prepared pie crust.  Cover the lemon filling with plastic wrap until you are ready to put the meringue on top.  Make the meringue.

Meringue Topping

6 egg whites separated earlier and allowed to come to room temperature
½ cup of white sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until they hold a soft peak.  Beat in the cream of tartar and salt.  Gradually add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until all of the sugar has been added.  Continue to beat the egg whites until they are thick and glossy but not dry.  Remove the plastic wrap from the lemon filling.  Mound the meringue in the center of the pie, spread it out to the edges and make sure it is touching the crust and sealed all the way around. (If it is not sealed it will shrink and pull away from the edges.)  Use the back of a spoon to make the swirls all over the pie.  Place in the hot oven to brown.  Do not walk away; this will only take a few minutes.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.  After the pie has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.  Cut with a wet, serrated knife, wiping off the knife between each cut.

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