Sunday, March 13, 2011

Adventures in Cooking: Lemon Meringue Pie

Tomorrow is pi day!  (3.14.  Get it?  Yes, I'm a geek.)  And so I'm making a pie!

My favorite pie is lemon meringue.  My granny made it for me every day on my birthday.  Three years ago, since I wasn't seeing my grandmother I tried to make it myself.  I had asked Granny what she used for the filling, and I swear that her answer was Comstock Lemon Pie Filling.
Jell-O Cook & Serve Pudding & Pie Filling, Sugar-Free, Fat Free, Vanilla, 0.8-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 24)
I searched all over Austin for Comstock Lemon Pie Filling.  We even went to Central Market, which you know I think is the scariest store of all.  I figured it must be a small town thing, like blinking red lights and Dairy Queen.  So, when visiting my Granny the next time in the small town I grew up in, I went to the local supermarket and did not find Comstock Lemon Pie Filling.

Perplexed, I called my Granny from the store.  She told me she uses Jello Lemon Pie filling.  And not the instant kind.  

With 6 lemon pie filling boxes in hand, I went home to make the pie, and ran into another host of problems.   I have my Granny's pie crust recipe but how to incorporate it into the pie was confusing.  Most recipes I found online (and on the Jello box) involved a pre-made crust or a pate brisee, which since it uses butter would be different.

After some experimenting, here's what I did.

Granny's Pie Crust recipe (single crust)
1 1/3 c Flour
It's crumbly.  Trust me it will be fine. 
pinch of Salt
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 Tbsp milk

1.  Mix together all ingredients (I usually use a fork).  Form into a ball
2.  Roll out between two sheets of wax paper
(I can't roll out dough to save my life.  I've tried different rolling pins.  I can't ever get it thin enough.  I get my husband and his man arms to roll out dough.)
3.  Flop it into a pie pan.
(Many people put a decorate edge on the the pie.  I don't know how to do that.  I just buy a fluted pie pan instead.)
4.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 350

For the pie filling, I followed the package instructions and filled the pie.  I overfilled it this time.  You should leave some room for the meringue.

For the meringue, I beat three egg whites in my KitchenAid  Mixer on high.  Once they were foamy, I gradually added in 1/3 c sugar until stiff peaks formed.  (Stiff peaks is when you lift the mixer attachment and the meringue stay pointy and doesn't flop back into the bowl.)

I covered the pie with the meringue, all the way to the edge and put it in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes.
Ta da!  Pie!