Sugarlaws: Living Sweetly.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Pin It

January 28th, 2008 · Print Print


I think this pie is best described as a comedy of errors.  Emphasis on the errors.

Looks good, right?  Well, it tasted good too.  But it definitely didn’t look good for long.

When I set out to make this pie, I decided to make it in one of my tart shells, rather than a pie dish (I am seriously in love with my tart shells).  I halved the recipe, thinking that was about the difference between the sizes of a tart and a pie dish.  But, after halving, I didn’t have quite enough crust to actually cover the tart shell!  So I was forced to move the little scraps from some edges and try to mold them into the shell in the bare places.  That should have been a sign that this pie was just not for me, but I continued.

The filling went off more or less without a hitch, as did the meringue, and I should have just baked the pie and been done with it.

Except I didn’t bake the pie.  I attempted to just brown the top of the pie with my broiler.  And look how good at controlling my broiler I am:


I know, I know.  Doesn’t that just look delicious?  Amazingly, I was able to turn the above mess into an actually edible pie.  The broiling only burned the very top layer of the meringe, so I literally just scraped it off with a knife.  Took a while, but I was left with a more-or-less uncooked layer of meringue underneath.

Round two, in which I lowered the heat on the broiler, worked much better.  Quite proud of myself, I set the pie aside to cool, and then cut myself a slice.


Um, that is not a pie.  That is a very gooey pudding with a little bit of meringue on top.  I know that others have made very lovely pies with this recipe, so I won’t blame the recipe.  I’ll blame the mysterious gods of baking, and maybe sacrifice a few goats before my next attempt.

Lemon Meringue Pie

(from “Wanda’s Pie in the Sky” by Wanda Beaver)
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie.


Tags: desserts · food

51 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rosa // Jan 28, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Your pie still looks great! I’m also looking forwards to the next challenge!



  • 2 Jessica // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I feel your pain. My first DB challenge was a disaster! At least yours is edible! Good job!

  • 3 Tracy // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Oh, I’m sorry yours didn’t turn out, although the photo on top looks quite nice. I thought the tart idea was a good one. I love my tart pan too. I’d love some mini tart pans.

  • 4 Cakespy // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Simply gorgeous! I think it looks wonderful. I just ate my DB challenge for breakfast. ;-)

  • 5 Suzana // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Katy, mine was a bit of mess to – I know all about a not long-lasting-good-looking Lemon Meringue Pie! Still a great photo!

  • 6 Susan // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Those baking gods do work in mysterious ways. Seems that experiences with this were all over the map. Good save on the meringue!

  • 7 Ann // Jan 28, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    It all looks great even with the capricious gods factor. :-)

  • 8 Katherine // Jan 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I was in New Haven this weekend to visit my parents and celebrate my dad’s birthday. My mom made a lemon meringue pie for him. It was incredible! We think it had some sleep agent in it, though, because after dinner we were all ridiculously tired and went to bed early. I blamed the wine, but we had the leftover pie after lunch the next day and the same thing happened!

  • 9 NuJoi // Jan 28, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I’ve had many a lemon meringue pie turn to soup or bead.  Here’s the trick: after the egg mixture comes to a boil, continue to cook for a full minute.  Alton Brown saved my pies with that tip.  Also, put the meringue on hot filling, so that it cooks underneath as well.  Good luck!

  • 10 Big Boys Oven // Jan 28, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Oh I love the meringue… so well executed!

  • 11 joey biscotti // Jan 28, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    we considered using our broiler, too, but i know that using it puts whatever you are broiling right under the flame… and i do mean RIGHT UNDER… we used the oven for about 20 minutes… I do like how all the squigglies in your meringue came out highlighted… It looks yummy!!!

  • 12 Tempered Woman // Jan 28, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Oh- how that sneaky broiler has gotten the best of me too. I always manage to overdo it and never learn. Just pigheaded that way. I was kind of confused about the zest comment- cause the original recipe does call for zest??
    I am seriously starting to get tart pan envy- you all are killing me with these cute little tarts~ Congrats on completing your DB challenge!

  • 13 Nemmie // Jan 28, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I too love the squiggles of your meringue :) I was paranoid, and therefore was spared the wrath of my broiler (also quite tempermental).  Still a lovely pie!

  • 14 Tarah // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Your pie looks gorgeous; even with the capricious gods factor! ;]
    Great job!

  • 15 Gretchen Noelle // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Katy, I hope the lemon pudding pie at least tasted yummy! What a fun design you made on the pie!

  • 16 Deborah // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I never trust my broiler – I always have to watch it like a hawk!!  I still think it looks delicious!

  • 17 emily // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    thanks for sharing your experience.  It’s not often that people print their “mistakes” (although even the slightly messy slice looks delicious).  I commend your honesty, and am very glad that you got back on the horse ! !  you know what would be worth learning how to make….that earily addictive chocolate tia maria spoon bread we eat in Jamaica!!

  • 18 Faery // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    It looks beautiful and I love the meringue

  • 19 katy // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments!!!

    Tempered Woman — oh my gosh, you’re right!  And here I thought I was being such a rebel, but really I was following the recipe!

    Emily — I have tia maria solely for that cake!!  I absolutely need to make it…

  • 20 Emiline // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve read that a lot of people had problems, so don’t feel too bad.  You did a great job!

    Next time, have some goats ready.

  • 21 Dagmar // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I’m sorry that you had so many problems, but I’m glad that you were able to eat it :-)

  • 22 carrie // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    LOL! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had disastrous results on this challenge!! LOl VERY funny commentary though! And I think you came through that will flying colors! Looks delicious to me!

  • 23 Lewis // Jan 28, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Wow Katy, you managed to turn that into something edible?!?  Now that’s a DB’er ;)

  • 24 laurie // Jan 28, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    It looks fantastic. I like the crispy bits !! I always manage to overcook with the broiler too, even when I have the timer set. My husband rolls his eyes at me when I say Im going to use it now. haha

    Great job!

  • 25 breadchick // Jan 28, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    LOL!  At least it tasted good huh!  Great job on your challenge.

  • 26 Lori // Jan 28, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    I like your perseverance! Good effort, I would definitely eat it, still looks good to me.  ;)

  • 27 Melanie // Jan 28, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    I would say it is still a success, runny or not! I chuckled over the burnt meringue picture – totally something I would do. Thanks for visiting my blog – I’m glad to add yours to my bookmarks!

  • 28 shana // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    love your lemon tarts! can’t wait to see what our next challenge is.

  • 29 Beth G // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Fabulous lemon tart-goodness :O) YUM!!

  • 30 StickyGooeyCreamyChewy // Jan 29, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I know the meringue wasn’t supposed to look like that, but it actually looks kind of cool.  It sems that almost everone had some sort of issue with this one, but we got through it!  Yay!

  • 31 baking soda // Jan 29, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Oh boy…your meringue looks like my spaghetti when I decide to put it under the grill for that last bit of nice crunch..ouch!
    You’ve completed the challenge and rescued the pie! Kudos

  • 32 Donald // Jan 29, 2008 at 7:33 am

    My great grandmother used to make the best lemon meringue pie. It was my absolute favorite as a kid.

    Your perseverance is truly commedable. I would have resorted to sticking my fingers into the pie and eating it that way.

  • 33 Adele // Jan 29, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I feel your pain. I once set a quiche on fire when using the broiler. (It was still edible once I removed the charred bits, though it looked a little odd.)

    Perhaps the filling needed the additional baking time to firm up? It looks like a very tasty pudding, though. :)

  • 34 brilynn // Jan 29, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    At least you’re good at troubleshooting!  Hopefully next month’s challenge will be more comedy, less errors…

  • 35 katy // Jan 29, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Everyone — thanks so much for your comments and encouragement!  Hopefully I will have more success with next month’s challenge!  I am hoping most of all for something savory!

  • 36 MrsPresley // Jan 29, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    well, it’s always fun to read how everything turns out (gives me a little more courage to join the DB knowing i wouldn’t be the only one having issues with a recipe!) and while it didn’t work out as well as you had hoped, at least it tasted good! if you had only posted the first photo, no one would have even known ;)

  • 37 Jane // Jan 30, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Well, at least your pie photo looks great.
    I wouldn’t dare to put something like this in my broiler… it’s in a bottom drawer and therefore very close to the food… I once set portobello mushrooms alight.  Eek.
    The pie tasted good, and in my opinion, that counts more than looks.
    Jane of

  • 38 cookworm // Jan 30, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Actually, there is something kind of striking about that burnt meringue; it looks sort of basket-like the way you piped it.  And hey, looks aren’t everything – at least you liked the way it tastes!  Time to look forward to the next challenge!

  • 39 katy // Jan 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Mrs Presley — I was *so* tempted to just put up the first photo!  But I had to be honest. :-)

    Jane — Ha!  Portobella mushrooms on fire sounds frightening!

    Cookworm — I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I totally ate the burnt meringue as I was picking it off the pie… :-)

  • 40 Gabi // Jan 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Your lacy meringue pattern is lovely.
    Umm- I’m sure the Gods will love a menu that includes LMP with their goats! ;)
    Nice job even with the issues.

  • 41 Jen Yu // Jan 31, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Aww, it really came out pretty well in the end despite the various problems!  Good job and especially good effort!!

  • 42 Lisa // Jan 31, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    hehee well, I feel your pain.. I can’t count on all my fingers and toes how many things have gone “astray” in my kitchen. :D

    But I gotta give you major credit.. like a true daring baker, you sliced that burnt meringue off and tried again.. Might have chucked the meringue at that point at whipped out the Cool Whip.  hahahahaaa!

    Well done – it ended up being just beautiful!


  • 43 Jenny // Jan 31, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I dunno, I kinda like the look of the slightly crispy squiggles of your first attempt on the meringue!  It looks like a very cool piece of art!

  • 44 Jenny // Feb 1, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I dunno about the goat sacrifice.  Poor little goat.  :)

  • 45 Sheltie Girl // Feb 3, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Your pie turned out beautifully.  I’m sorry the filling was runny on the second attempt.  Like everyone else, I really like the squiggles of meringue on your first pie.  It’s very striking.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  • 46 Mer // Feb 3, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Sacrificing goats to the baking gods… I knew I’d missed something in this challenge.  ;0)

  • 47 Molly // Feb 4, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Good job hanging in there.  My grandson would have liked the look of the first meringue.  I baked mine at a lower temperature.  I think I have a 50-5o chance of burning anything using the broiler.  I love tart pans too.  They have a classy look about them.

  • 48 Ashley // Feb 7, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Aw, sorry to hear it didn’t turn out as you’d hoped! I don’t know if I’d have had the patience to scrape off the burnt meringue and do it again.

  • 49 Claire // Feb 9, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    SOmehow, the burned version makes the think of worms!  :-) Your second one is just beautiful!  Sorry it was a little runny…hope it tasted good.  Great job!

  • 50 Dolores // Feb 10, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Okay, so maybe it’s more of a pudding (in a crust with meringue topping) than a pie in your case, but it still looks tasty! Congratulations on completing January’s challenge.

  • 51 Opera Cake | sugarlaws // May 28, 2008 at 7:43 am

    […] has been!  To jog your memory, the Daring Bakers recipes I’ve made have been the Yule Log, Lemon Meringue Pie, French Bread, Perfect Party Cake, and this post’s Opera Cake, but there are plenty of others […]

Leave a Comment