Here we are on the last day of our long Easter weekend, and it has been a great one so far. We had our family holiday to-do this year at one of my sisters’ houses, and I was given my favorite task: dessert.
As always, I turn ‘dessert’ into ‘desserts’, mainly because I have too many recipes bookmarked that I want to try, but also partially because I just can’t make up my mind. After a few days of humming and hawing, I decided to go with pie. One pie turned into two, then a few hours before we were going to head out the door, two turned into three.
Three pies for eight adults and a toddler…sounds about right
I’ve only been making pies from scratch for a few years, and just recently, thanks to lots of Play Doh hours being logged, figured out how to crimp the crust so it didn’t look like a mangled mess. I use two recipes for pie crust, one is a French crust (a Pate Brisee), the other an oil-based no-roll crust. I used the all-butter French pastry for this pie.
This was my first totally from scratch lemon pie (growing up I thought homemade consisted of the little blue box of filling mix) and it was everything I wanted and more. It had a great natural yellow color, and a great mix of sweet and tart from actual lemons, who’d a thunk it! I read through a lot of recipes, both online and in my cookbooks before finding the right mix of ingredients that I also had on hand in proportions I thought I would like the best.
Lets start with the pie crust, as you will need to have this baked and cooled before making the luscious lemon filling…
My French Butter Pastry
(enough for one 9 to 10″ pie shell)
1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose or pastry)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (I leave this out of a savory pie)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into 8 pieces
6 tbsp ice water
In food processor, add dry ingredients and pulse once or twice to combine. Add butter and pulse just a few times until you get pea-sized pieces of butter.
Add the ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing once in between each addition. Pulse a few extra times at the end until you get a small pebble-like grain as shown in the picture below.
Empty this mixture out on to a piece of plastic wrap (it will be very loose) and draw the ends of the plastic wrap together to bring the dough into a ball.
Unlike most recipes for Pate Brisee, I leave the dough as is, like this, on the counter for 30 minutes to rest. Then I roll it out and line the pie plate. Then I put it in the freezer for a few minutes if baking empty for a pie like this one or while I’m prepping ingredients for the filling of a baked pie. I pressed tin foil into the shell, weighted it down with some rice and blind baked the crust at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. I then took the foil and rice out, reduced the heat to 375 and continued to bake for another 10 minutes.
Now that you have your crust baked and cooled, lets tackle the filling…
My Lemon Pie Filling
1 1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
1 cup boiling water
5 well beaten egg yolks (save the 5 whites for the meringue)
3 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
Mix the sugar, cornstarch, salt together in medium saucepan (not on heat yet, but turn your burner on medium high to heat up). Add the lemon juice and cold water and whisk until well blended. Whisk in the egg yolks and then the boiling water, putting the pot on the heat at this point. Continue stirring until the filling comes to a boil and then lower the heat to medium and continue cooking for a minute or so until it gets nice and thick. Remove from heat, whisk in butter bits and lemon zest and pour into pie shell.
Now, it’s meringue time!
5 egg whites at room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
In (hopefully) your KitchenAid mixer, beat the 5 egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar using the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add 3 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp vanilla and continue whipping at highest speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue on pie and spread it over to the crust, making sure to make contact with the crust, otherwise your meringue will shrink (gasp…shrinkage!). Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until as golden as you would like.
Stay tuned for Easter Pie-stravaganza Part Two: Dutch Apple
Until then, enjoy!