This may be my personal favorite among the traditional pies. Lemon is my absolute favorite flavor. My grandmother taught me this recipe when I was still quite young and I was delighted when I was finally able to make it all by myself. I must confess that this is the only recipe that I have actually set ablaze. A moment's distraction while trying to hurry along the browning process led to disaster. Experimentation is great, but sometimes it is best to stick with Grandma's instructions.
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsps. cornstarch
4 tsps. flour
1 tsp. salt
Combine in saucepan.
1 cup water.
Add to saucepan. Stir until smooth. Stir over medium heat until mixture thickens.
4 egg yolks, beaten.
Temper hot cornstarch mixture into the eggs. Return egg and cornstarch mixture to low heat and stir vigorously for 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add:
6 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
Grated rind of 2 lemons
2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
Stir until melted and combined.
Pour the lemon filling into a baked & cooled Vodka Pie Crust.
Place 2 (or 3) egg whites in mixer bowl. With wire whisk attachment, beat until frothy. Add 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar. Continue beating at high speed while adding 1/3 cup sugar a spoonful at a time. Grandma also added a pinch of salt and a spoonful of lemon rind and lemon juice. When the whites are beaten very stiff, fold in an additional 1/3 cup sugar.
Top the lemon filling with the meringue. Make sure the first layer completely covers the lemon filling and the edges of the pie crust. Add more meringue and use a spoon to make decorative swirls and peaks.
Bake in a slow oven (250F) until meringue is browned. This took a terribly long time; longer than I remember from childhood. I raised the temp to 275F but didn't go farther considering my previous pie went up in flames. When I tweak this pie I will be working on making a "cooked" meringue, a lemon curd (completely cooked) filling and using a blow torch to brown the meringue. It is only when I revisit the original that I get ideas for new versions. Do you think I will mind making another lemon pie? Not a chance!
I know it is hard to wait but you must wait until the pie is completely cool, even chilled, before cutting or the filling will run.
Tasting: Both Dad and I took a trip down memory lane with this pie. It really is a wonderful flavor, but I think we can make it more 'user friendly.' I will get it back on the blog before the year ends.