Lemon Meringue Pie

Happy Pi Day everyone! I have to admit that Pi Day is one of my favorite food related holidays, I mean, what could possibly be better than a holiday that appeals to both the geek and the baker in me? This year I knew early on that I wanted to pull out an old favorite of mine, I recently discovered that it had been four whole years since I've made a Lemon Meringue Pie; that's an atrocity if you ask me. So before I cracked out the pie baking tools I decided to go on a pie tasting field test, all the way over to Hubbard Avenue Diner, in Middleton, WI where I'm pretty sure I died and went to heaven the second I walked in the door. Here is the reason why. After an excellent meal with my family and a slice of their Lemon Meringue Pie I left determined to improve upon my recipe so I could share it with you. This is the perfect pie to remind us that spring is almost here, hopefully you can give it a try some time soon.

Lemon Meringue Pie
makes a 10 inch pie

Ingredients

For the pie crust

1½ Cup all-purpose flour
½ Cup vegetable shortening
1 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 - 5 Tablespoons cold water 

For the lemon filling

½ stick butter, melted and cooled
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk

For the meringue

3 egg whites
6 Tablespoons sugar 
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder

Directions

For the pie crust

  • In a large mixing bowl combine all-purpose flour, vegetable shortening, sugar, and salt. Mix using a food processor or pastry cutter until dough is crumbly.
  • Add water one Tablespoon at a time until dough is able to form a ball, usually 4 - 5 Tablespoons.
  • Wrap dough in saran wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before baking.

For the lemon filling

  • Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds on high and let cool.

Do not add other ingredients before the butter has cooled back to room temperature or you will end up with lumpy filling

  • In a bowl combine cooled butter, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, egg yolks, and buttermilk mix on low until smooth.

For the meringue

  • In a mixing bowl add egg whites and beat until they start to foam. Gradually add sugar, salt, and baking powder and continue to mix until stiff peaks form.

To assemble and bake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Remove dough from refrigerator, place on a sheet of parchment paper and cover with a second sheet. If the dough is crumbly and not forming a uniform ball, sprinkle lightly with water until dough holds together, taking care not to over water it.
  • Roll dough out from the center outward until it reaches a uniform ¼ inch thickness, then transfer to pie plate. Press the crust to fit, then trim the edges as necessary.
  • Place dough in the refrigerator to chill another 30 minutes before baking.
  • Weigh down crust with beans or rice then pre-bake pie crust for 20 minutes.
  • Let pie crust cool on a wire rack before continuing and assemble the lemon filling while waiting.
  • Pour lemon filling on to the cooled pie crust and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the filling sets.
  • Let pie cool for at least 30 minutes before topping with meringue and bake for 10 minutes on the top rack, or until meringue browns.
  • Chill for 30 - 45 minutes, uncovered, then serve. Enjoy!

Lemon meringue pie does not keep well in the refrigerator for long periods of time.

Recipe Inspiration

This recipe was heavily adapted from four separate recipes published in the St. Louis Memorial Boulevard Christian Church Cookbook: Our Favorite Recipes, a collection by the Topnotcher Class. The meringue and pie crust recipes are adapted from my Grandma Shirley's recipes which were handed down to me by my mother. The lemon filling is inspired by a combination of the Lemon Pie recipe attributed to Marguerite McDowell and the Buttermilk Pie (Mock Lemon) recipe attributed to Mary Wing. 

Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing

Growing up ranch dressing was always my condiment of choice for salads and veggies. When the holidays would roll around my grandmother would make sure to have a bottle of Kraft buttermilk ranch dressing on the table, knowing my brother and I both loved it. It remained one of my favorite salad dressings well into adulthood, although sometimes I would switch it up a bit and grab a bottle of Hidden Valley ranch. 

Several years ago, in an effort to cut down on the amount of preservatives in my diet, I decided to start making my own salad dressings. Honestly, I'm not sure why it took me so long to realize I could be making much better tasting dressings at home, but now that I have I don't bother with the store bought stuff unless a guest requests it. I've never bothered to write the recipe down before because each time I make it it is a little bit different, but here is where I'm at today. This is a great starting point, but make sure you experiment, the possibilities are endless with this recipe.

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Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing
makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon dried minced onion
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon parsley 
teaspoon smoked paprika
teaspoon thyme
teaspoon basil
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Directions:

  • Combine ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

Make this at least a day in advance so the flavors have time to meld. It will keep for at least 5 days when kept properly refrigerated.

Buttermilk Cornbread

Without a doubt cornbread is the perfect side to serve with chili, stew, or soup. This particular cornbread creates a lovely crisp edge, yet manages to remain moist inside. This isn't the dry, crumbly cornbread you grew up with! My family tends to devour the whole batch before we even get dinner on the table, so I normally double the recipe. If you have extra left over (and I doubt you will because it is just that good) it can be frozen for later.

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Buttermilk Cornbread
Makes 9 servings or 12 muffins

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish with butter.
  • In a large skillet, melt butter. Remove from heat and mix in sugar, then add eggs and whisk until well incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl combine buttermilk and baking soda, then stir into sugar mixture.
  • Add cornmeal, flour, and salt then stir until well blended with few lumps. Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes clean.
  • If making muffins, bake in a preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
  • Best served warm with a good sized helping of chili on top.

Variations on this recipe:

If you think this recipe is too sweet, try adding some cheddar cheese and jalapeño peppers. The spicy peppers and salty cheese contrast nicely with the sweet corn bread.

Inspiration for this recipe

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread - Allrecipes.com