For the next three weeks, I feel like I should call this blog E2 Bakes Fort Worth. I’m in town for the holidays and a family event during the first week of January. Three weeks of family time may seem like an eternity to some, but I think it’ll go by in a flash. When my immediate family and I get together, we just *click.* Everything is more fun with my parents and sisters around. Oh, and I can’t forget about our trusty schnauzer.
We used to do the big family Christmas every year, but these days, we prefer a quieter holiday. We cook and decorate and play Dominoes–it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the best.
Since we aren’t expecting any company this year, we don’t have to make any specific holiday menu. The plan is to make a lamb pot pie, and I’m hoping to make pots de creme for dessert, but we’ll see. That’s the great thing about Christmas being “just us.” We can make those things…or not. There are no expectations beyond an ear-splitting rendition of “O Holy Night,” and my mom’s all-citrus fruit salad.
But there is something to be said for traditions. I do not come from a family of bakers, aside from my grandmother, Nonnie. She would have been 98 this past Sunday. Nonnie made the best Buttermilk Biscuits and chocolate cake I’ve ever had, but she had much more than those two items in her baking repertoire.
When we were young and she was in good health, she would come over on Christmas Day with boxes and boxes of homemade desserts. Many of them were made up on the fly, using up ingredients she found around her little house. There were strawberry cakes and chocolate cream pies, and I recall one Christmas where my mom allowed us to eat her apple cake for breakfast for days. No two years were exactly alike, save for one item: Lemon Meringue Pie. I don’t remember her ever making one for another occasion.
While Lemon Meringue Pie may not say Christmas to you, it does to my family and me. The flaky crust, lemony base, and airy topping bring back memories of our childhoods. While I was baking this pie yesterday afternoon, my dad stopped in for a few minutes. Instead of remarking at the horrific mess the kitchen had become, he looked at me and said “This brings back memories of being in my mother’s kitchen.” That’s probably the highest compliment he could give me.
Looking for more holiday recipes? You’ve come to the right place! Check out my Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles, Iced Sugar Cookies, Pear & Cranberry Torte, Eggnog Bundt Cake, Gingersnaps, Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Chai Shortbread Snowballs. For food gifting, try my Hot Chocolate Mix, Brownie Mix, or pair these Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread with a box of tea.
Lemon Meringue Pie
makes one 9-inch pie
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough (or other good crust)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425F.
Roll pie crust to 12-inch diameter. Fit it in a standard pie plate, trim the overhang to 1-inch, and crimp. Line the inside of the unbaked pie crust with parchment (or non-heavy duty foil). Fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully lift out parchment and weights. Bake an additional 10-12 minutes. Set crust aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325F.
Make the meringue. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine cream of tartar and sugar. Set aside.
In a separate small bowl, use a fork to whisk together cornstarch, water, and vanilla.
Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat them on medium-high for 1-2 minutes, until frothy. Add sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time, beating until completely incorporated. Add cornstarch mixture one tablespoon at a time, until combined. Continue beating on medium speed until egg whites form stiff peaks. Set aside.
Make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to beat egg yolks. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in water. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens. Whisking constantly, pour 1/3 cup of the mixture into the egg yolks. Whisking constantly, add egg yolk mixture to the pan. Stir in lemon zest, followed by lemon juice and vanilla. Let simmer for 1 additional minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter. Push filling through a sieve to remove any lumps.
Pour hot filling into prepared crust. Drop spoonfuls of meringue over the top of the filling, and use the back of the spoon to spread it out. Bake 20 minutes, until meringue is lightly browned. Let pie cool completely on a rack before slicing and serving.
Lemon Meringue Pie is best served the day it’s made.