Spring always has a way of making me feel all warm inside. Its that happy time of year when the flowers are blooming, the trees are full and every thing is so bright and cheerful. When it comes to dessert for spring, it should be as easy as PIE! Yep, pies are that wonderfully light dessert that you can just whip up without so much hassle most times.
My mother-in-law had us over for coffee and cake the other day and she served up a Zitronentarte, which is basically similar to a Lemon Meringue without the Meringue. It’s a lemon pie dressed with either dusted icing sugar or candied lemons and served with a side of whipped cream. The lemon flavor was very pronounced and the consistency was a little thicker than I’m use to. It was still yummy, but I was really missing that mild fluffed egg white flavor I love so much.
Needless to say, I came home and got to work. My pie came out great. However my photo shots are a day later because my camera was MIA. So the meringue had already started pulling away from the crust. It is a good idea to leave the pie in the pan if you are not going to eat all at once. It helps to keep the form if you are working with a soft shell crust.
Depending on whether I spread or give the meringue peaks determine how toasted I want the top of my pie. For this one, I didnt design with peak, so I opted for an even brown coloring.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, twice sifted
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup cold butter, small cubes*
- ¼ cup ice cold water, enough to make dough form
- 1⅓ cups sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp flour, optional
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 5 yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 ½ tbsp grated lemon zest
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 egg whites
- ½ tsp cream of tartar**
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 425F and set aside a 9″ pie pan.
- For Crust: In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut butter into flour until crumbs start to form.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl and gradually add in water and begin tossing with a fork until dough starts to form.
- Remove from bowl, on a floured surface, finish working the dough gently by kneading it.
- Roll out pastry to fit 9” pie pan. Transfer pastry to pan. Trim and design edges. Poke the bottom of the crust in several places with a fork and back for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Reduce oven to 325F.
- For the filling: combine sugar, flour, and salt with cornstarch in a saucepan. Gradually add in the water until smooth. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to a low simmer for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat. While stirring, pour a small amount of warm mixture to egg yolks. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Return pan to low-medium heat, whisk in egg yolks. Bring to a gentle boil, while constantly stirring, cook until thick.
- Remove from heat; gently add in zest and butter and stir until butter melts. Pour into crust. Set aside.
- For the Meringue: On low speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl until soft peaks form.
- Increase the speed, gradually add in sugar some at a time, then vanilla. Beat until sugar is dissolved and stiff glossy peaks form. Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing edges at the crust. This normally will prevent the meringue from shrinking.
- Bake at 325F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours to firm up.
* Butter is not a must, you can opted for shortening or a mild flavored oil.
** If you can not get your hand on cream of tartar, you can use cornstarch.