And hooray for this pie. It is fabulous. Yummy. It melts in your mouth, the meringue dissolving into the lemony goodness of the lemon curd and whipped cream. Yes, it makes me lyrical. It is probably my favorite pie. And rivals chocolate cake for my favorite dessert.
These are all the ingredients you need. That is one of the things I love about this pie. It makes me feel like a magician. Whipping up a pie with just eggs, sugar, lemon, salt, and cream of tartar. Oh and whipping cream.
This is what I get for trying to be artsy as Owen would say. I put all the ingredients out and then Elsie fussed and I had to go feed her. I came back to this. The egg yolk was all over the carpet. I guess we should leave artsy to people that don't have inquisitive 3 year olds who carry stools around to see what is happening up on the counter. I really loved having everything measured out though. It felt so efficient.
The eggs separated out.
You dump the egg whites, cream of tartar and some of the salt into the mixer and let it whizzle away for awhile. After a few minutes, it looks like this.
Once it starts looking like a meringue, (soft billowy mounds--what a yummy phrase!) you gradually add the sugar. I never understand the gradual part. But I read the other day that if you were to dump the whole kit and kaboodle in at once, it would deflate the egg whites and your meringue would be much flatter. Which would be tragic. So pour it in gradually.
Next is my favorite part. You get to take the whip out to see if the meringue is at stiff peaks yet. At soft peaks, it folds over gently. It gets increasingly stiff, until....
You get a big blob that sticks up all over. Seriously, I love whipping egg whites.
Isn't it beautiful?
You run your finger around the outer edge of the greased pie plate so the meringue isn't attached and can rise to its hearts content. Then you pop it into a 300 degree oven. After an hour, you turn the oven off, but don't open the door. Three hours later, you are allowed to open the door. This makes sure the meringue is dried out and won't deflate on you.
This recipe is not for people who have issue with delayed gratification.
While the oven door is staying firmly shut, you make the lemon curd out of the egg yolks. I love recipes that use everything up. For the lemon curd, you mix sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a saucepan, stirring constantly until it is thickened, about 6 minutes.
And you do have to stir constantly. This was my first batch. It was lemony scrambled eggs. And then I had to crack more eggs for yolks. And then what to do with the whites? Make more meringue pies. And then you need more yolks.... It is a wonderful vicious cycle. But easier if you just stir constantly.
This is where life got busier and pictures stopped.
Once you have a nice smooth lemon curd (why is it called curd?) you pour it into a bowl, press plastic wrap directly on top and refrigerate for an hour or so.
This recipe takes most of a day. But it isn't really labor intensive. You aren't holding the oven door shut, so you can sort of forget about it for several hours. Just don't plan on making this recipe an hour before supper. Or when you need the oven.
Once the meringue has dried and the lemon curd is cooled, you start whipping the cream. I also like to whip cream. I like swirly white things. The recipe calls for plain whipped cream, but I see no reason not to add vanilla and a bit of sugar like you would to any other whipping cream.
Once you have the cream whipped, you take some of it and gently fold it into the lemon curd, folding until there are no more yellow streaks. Or until your baby is yelling madly and you realize no one cares if there are lemony streaks in a lemon pie.
Pour the lemon curd/whipped cream directly into the beautiful meringue nest you just made. Top with the whipped cream.
And marvel at perfection.
Or what would be perfection if you hadn't left the last 4 steps until the half hour before you were supposed to leave for the potluck and managed to overwhip the cream slightly because you were dealing with girls hair, Gilbert's boots, and Elsie's wails.
But it was still perfection. Because it is meringue, cream, and lemon.
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
Heat oven to 300, grease pie plate.
Whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/2 tsp salt on medium low until foamy. Increase speed to medium and beat until soft, billowy mounds. Gradually add 1 cup sugar (I go ahead and add 1 1/2 cup. But that is just me). Whip until stiff and glossy, 3-6 minutes.
Spread into prepared pie plate in an even layer. Run finger around edge to create a small gap between meringue and pie dish. Bake 1 hour. Turn oven off. Do not open door. Allow the meringue to dry for 3 hours inside closed oven.
Meanwhile, whisk 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt together in a saucepan over medium low heat until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is 170 degrees or about 5 minutes.
You can strain the curd at this point to remove the zest. I don't bother.
Place plastic wrap directly on surface of lemon curd and refridgerate until completely cooled, about an hour.
Whip cream. Medium low one minute and then high, 1-3 minutes until soft peaks form. (apparently whipping cream on low first elminates the coat-your-mouth feeling that whipped cream can sometimes have)
Fold half of whipped cream into lemon curd. Fold gently until no yellow streaks remian. Pour into the dried meringue shell and top with remaining whipped cream.