For many years Italian cooks realized that lemons were more than just a pretty scent; they used them with abandon in sweet and savory dishes. Lemons did more than make food delicious; their high acidity also helped preserve foods.
LEMON MERINGUE PIE
A perfect springtime pie because nothing says spring like yellow and lemons and this pie has it all.
7 EGGS – large, separated
2 LEMONS – zested
1 ¼ CUPS SUGAR
½ TSP CREAM OF TARTAR
½ CUP LEMON JUICE – freshly squeezed
3 TBS CORNSTARCH – sifted to remove lumps
1 TBS FLOUR – sifted
1 PIE CRUST – 9 or 10-inch, prebaked, cooled
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350º
In a double boiler (not aluminum) filled with 1-2 inches simmering water, add the egg yolks and whisk slowly while adding 1 cup sugar, 3 Tbs cornstarch, 1 Tb flour, and lemon juice. When all is incorporated, continue to whisk until the mixture is quite thick and clear. At no time should the simmering water touch the bottom of the top boiler. Stir in the lemon zest, remove from the heat, and allow to cool.
Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Incorporate 1/3 of the egg whites into the cooled lemon mixture using a rubber spatula and mix the whites in thoroughly. Save the remaining whites for the meringue topping. Pour into the baked crust.
Add the remining sugar with the cream of tartar to the remaining egg whites, a little at a time, beating well after each addition and until almost stiff but not dry. Pile it on the lemon filling, covering it complete and especially making sure that it seals the edges. Swirl the top to give it a design and make it fluffy and not flat.
Place the pie on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until you see the meringue starting to brown. Be careful, as it can quickly burn. Depending on your oven this can take between 5 and 10 minutes. Remove the pie from oven and let cool completely before refrigerating and/or serving.
NOTE: Since my family likes mile-high meringue, I will usually add the whites from 2 or 3 additional eggs as I usually have egg whites stored in a jar in the refrigerator. To this I add a little more sugar and 1 tsp Cream of Tartar. The mile-high meringue also makes a nice presentation when making for company.