I made Lemon Meringue Pie after a request from a cooking class participant. We were making Cherry Hand Pies and Morganna, a 15-year old budding gluten free baker, told me she wanted to make an apple pie and a lemon meringue pie.
Here’s what I learned making my Lemon Meringue Pie.
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Pie Pastry vs Tart Pastry
“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” -Albert Einstein
I find this statement to be true with baking, gluten free baking and life in general.
Of course there is a difference between pie pastry and tart pastry, I just never really thought about it. These days I’m teaching people how to make gluten free pastry in my cooking classes. After all this talk and recipe testing for pastry I finally realized that my old pastry recipe is really tart pastry. So here’s the difference:
- -Pie pastry should be crisp and flaky. Pies can have a top and bottom crust and are typically served right out of the pie plate.
- -Tart pastry has a firm, crumbly crust. Tarts are typically baked in a pan with a removable bottom and are removed from the mold before serving.
As a young baker I was enthralled with beautiful magazine photos of tarts. I thought it was easier to only make a bottom crust, I liked the cookie like pastry and the unusual shaped tart pans allowed me to create an interesting presentation.
My mom, on the other hand, was famous for her flaky pie pastry. She made double crust fruit pies all summer and said that lard was the secret to a flaky crust. In later years when one of my brothers went vegetarian she adjusted to using shortening and no one seemed to notice.
For a gluten free pastry there are a lot of adjustments needed to make flaky pastry that is tender and stays together. Thanks to America’s Test Kitchen for doing all the science and determining that all butter is best with sour cream and vinegar to create all the elements needed for using gluten free flours.
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Meringue for Lemon Meringue Pie
Meringue is another topic where there is more to learn. Bakers around the world have their preferences and these are some of the differences.
- -French meringue often referred to as “ordinary”, is the most basic of the three and the least stable until baked.
- -Swiss meringue is smoother, silkier, and somewhat denser. The egg whites and sugar are heated in a double boiler then taken off the heat and beaten until cool and stiff.
- -Italian meringue is made by drizzling hot sugar syrup into egg whites that have already been whipped to hold firm peaks.
My mom and grandmother would have said meringue is just beaten egg whites with sugar. They may have mentioned that a pinch of cream of tarter makes meringue more stable. And they both made and served amazing lemon meringue pies with no more than that knowledge. So make your pie and learn more as you go. You get to decide how tall the meringue should be. I couldn’t pile it all on so I made a few small tarts with the extra pastry, filling and meringue.
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Get The Tools
You don’t need much more than a pie plate and a rolling pin.
- -A standard pyrex 9-inch pie plate with a fluted edge is needed for many recipes. If you change to colourful ceramic deep dish pie plate you’ll need to adjust the cooking times and will need more pastry and filling.
- -Every kitchen needs a rolling pin whether it’s a classic wooden rolling pin, a heavy marble one designed to stay cool for working with pastry or a modern silicone style rolling pin.
- –Flexible baking mats or inexpensive light weight cutting boards are perfect for flipping pastry to ensure it doesn’t stick.
- -If you’re interested in the science of gluten free baking America’s Test Kitchen has published two cookbooks that will be a great resource for years to come.
Let me know in the comments below how your Lemon Meringue Pie turned out. Morganna has been working on her pastry skills and shared this photo of her Strawberry Meringue Tarts.
Good luck with your baking!
More Pastry Recipes
|1½ cups water|
|1 cup sugar|
|¼ cup cornstarch|
|⅛ tsp salt|
|6 egg yolks|
|1 Tbsp grated lemon zest|
|½ cup lemon juice from 3 lemons|
|2 Tbsp butter|
|⅓ cup water|
|1 Tbsp cornstarch|
|4 egg whites|
|½ tsp vanilla extract|
|¼ tsp cream of tartar (optional)|
|½ cup sugar|
|Chilled pastry for single 9-inch pie shell|
- LEMON CURD - In a medium saucepan combine water, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly.
- When the mixture turns translucent, about 5 minutes, add egg yolks, 2 at a time.
- Whisk in lemon zest, lemon juice and butter.
- Let mixture come back to a simmer then remove from heat. Cover warm curd with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming on top.
- Rewarm before filling pie shell.
- ROLL OUT and BAKE PIE PASTRY - Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Using chilled pastry lightly sprinkle both sides with sweet rice flour. Starting in the center of the pastry, roll out toward the edge. Repeat in all directions to make a large circle that is ⅛-inch thick. Transfer pastry to pie plate. Cut excess pastry from pie plate with a knife. Gently press your thumb into the pastry all around the edge of the pie plate to create a nice pattern. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes before baking.
- Bake until crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Add warm filling to warm pastry shell.
- Decrease oven to 325°F.
- MAKE MERINGUE - In small saucepan bring water and cornstarch to simmer. Cook, whisking, until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- In stand mixer beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute.
- Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar, a spoonful at a time, until mixture forms soft peaks.
- Add cornstarch mixture, a spoonful at a time, and continue beating until glossy with stiff peak, 2-3 minutes.
- ASSEMBLE PIE - Reheat lemon curd and pour into warm pie shell. My pie shell did not hold all the lemon filling.
- Using a spatula spoon meringue onto filling to completely cover. Using the back of a spoon, create nice swirls and peaks in the meringue.
- Bake in 325°F oven until meringue is lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Rotate pie halfway through baking time for even baking.
- Let pie cool on wire rack until filling is set, about 1½ hours. Transfer to fridge after 45 minutes if you’re anxious to eat the pie.