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Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Oh My What A Big Lemon Meringue Pie!

Lemon Pie Filling – (recipe adapted from) Pies & Pastries, Pg. 199 – Evelyn V. Zink (Mrs. B.E.)

Sweet’n tart lemony curd, fluffy sweet meringue topping, all atop a rich flaky pastry – who can resist a decadent lemon meringue pie?  There are lots of variations out there – whether it be the store bought variety, “Homemade” via a boxed powder filling, or made from scratch – we’ve never really met a lemon pie we didn’t like…and that is saying a lot given Jan's serious aversion to eggs.

In preparing for this post we were very much inspired by the Foodie Cult Classic film “Toast” – a biopic film based on a bestselling memoir by Nigel Slater, a British celebrity chef.  Set in the 1960s and 70s, the film features retro culinary delights prepared by the main character’s stepmother (played by Helena Bonham-Carter) as seen through the eyes of a child – these over-emphasized, colourful and whimsical dishes eventually inspire the child to follow his culinary dreams.  At one point in the film a baking war is waged between the adolescent Slater and his stepmother in an all out battle to produce a larger than life deep dish lemon meringue pie - the kind of things pie dreams are made of.

Food Stylist Katherine Tidy's Famous Lemon Meringue Pie from "Toast"

While we’ve eaten plenty, we’ve never actually made a lemon pie – so naturally for our first one we’d challenge ourselves by making a giant, cartoon sized version.  Go big or go home we say!

We knew up front this was going to be a 2-day event.  Pie crust has to be prepped and chilled, in conjunction with the 10 egg separating shindig…oh yes…you read us right…TEN EGGS!  6 lemons reamed and partially zested (note to self…make sure you are paper-cut free if you are on lemon duty).  The curd boiled and thickened, the crust docked and blind baked and then baked again.

And we haven’t even touched on the meringue.  Foggetaboutit!

Was it worth it?  Hellz yah!

While we were true to all the ingredients of the Dutch Oven recipe, we did modify the quantities to accommodate our football team sized pie.  We also consulted the recipe developed by food stylist Katherine Tidy, that was used to create that unforgettable pie featured in “Toast”.

For the meringue, we used our go-to recipe from America’s test kitchen - found here.  While a little fussier to prepare it produces a nice stable, glossy, smooth meringue.  We’ve also included the simplified Dutch Oven version below.

Everyone has a favorite crust – we’ve tried several - check them out here.  We decided to try the recipe developed by Katherine Tidy, and very much enjoyed it.  Very flaky, substantial enough to handle the 10” deep tart pan we set our pie in.  It oddly enough had an egg in it.  Strange as that was to us, it worked producing a rich, flaky crust.  Some things we just have to accept in the world of the pastry arts and not question…

Pie Pastry Ingredients:

8 oz flour
4 oz butter
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
Cold water to mix
(double ingredients for deep dish pan)

Directions for Pie Pastry:

Sift flour and salt into a bowl cut in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Mix the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of water and add to the flour and combine until mixture comes together, add more water if necessary.

Wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes then roll out the pastry and line your 9 inch flan or pie pan with the dough and prick all over using a fork to prevent the crust from puffing.  Line with baking paper and fill with pie weights (or dried rice or beans) and chill for another 30 minutes to prevent shrinkage.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, then remove weights and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.

 Lemon Filling Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups water
Rind of 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice
1 tbsp butter
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch

Directions for Lemon Filling:

Put the water, sugar, salt, lemon rind, juice and butter into a saucepan and bring slowly to a

Beat egg yolks with the cornstarch and slowly add some of the hot mixture to temper the yolks whisking constantly.  Once tempered return egg mixture to the remaining liquid and heat whisking until the mixture thickens.  For the proper Toast effect add a couple drops of yellow food colouring at this point and pour into the baked pie crust.

Chill until set.

Meringue Ingredients:

4 egg whites
3 Tbsp sugar (we’d up this to ½ cup)
1 tsp lemon juice

Whisk the 4 egg whites until white and fluffy (until stiff peaks are formed) then whisk sugar gradually into the whites. 

Pile the meringue on to the now set pie, forming decorative swirls onto the filling making sure you cover right to the edges so no filling is visible.

Put the pie into the oven for about 5-10 minutes until the meringue is a light brown.

To make a giant cartoon sized pie (10 inch extra deep pie dish)

2 ½ cups sugar
Pinch of salt
3 ¾ cups water
1 ¼ cups lemon juice
Rind of 3 lemons
2 Tbsp butter
10 egg yolks
1/3 cup cornstarch
10 egg whites with 1 ½ cups sugar (meringue)
Let it set overnight before adding the meringue.


  1. A delicious work of art. Thank you Peter!

  2. Amazing!!! I LOVE lemon meringue and yours was spectacular! Thank you!!! Kristi

  3. Awesome! I've got some serious fond memories on how tasty this pie is! I still use the curd recipe today - because it's awesome just as a pudding - or as a sauce on a cake :)

  4. I will make this one for saturday special lunch! Here in Brazil is hard to find lemon... Lime is easier to find. I looooved this website!

  5. This method did not work for me, the mixing of cornstarch and egg yolk resulted in chunks of constarchy yolk in my end result. The yolks are simply not liquidy enough to absorb the constarch. I'm back to my old method.