Lemon Meringue Pie

lemon meringue pieMy Dad’s favorite kind of pie is lemon meringue (although we all like just about every kind of pie,) so when they came over for dinner, I made lemon meringue pie.  I thought it would be great for this month’s pie installment.

The easiest way to make lemon pudding is of course the Jello mix you can buy at the grocery store, but homemade lemon pudding is super easy and worlds better.  If you can invest in farm eggs for your lemon pudding, do so.  It adds a beautiful yellow color that wimpy store eggs just cannot.  If all you can buy are store eggs, you’ll still enjoy the wonderful flavor of the homemade pudding.  This recipe come from Mark Bittman’s cookbook How to Cook Everything and is just one example of the always-successful recipes he prints.

Lemon Pudding:

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

Pinch salt

2 cups boiling water

4 eggs, separated (save whites for meringue)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons lemon zest

6 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and boiling water in small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until smooth and thick, about 10 minutes.  While it is cooking, beat the egg yolks until smooth.  When the cornstarch mixture is thick, remove from heat and stir about 1/4 cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, beating well to warm the yolks, then add the yolk mixture into the cornstarch mixture and stir vigorously.  Return to low heat, add butter and lemon zest and juice and cook and stir about 5 minutes until smooth and hot.


4 egg whites

1/4 cup powdered sugar

pinch cream of tartar

In clean glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar using an electric mixer until soft peaks start to form.  Continue beating while adding slowly the powdered sugar until the mixture is shiny and holds stiff peaks.  Take care not to overbeat.

To make lemon meringue pie, first pre-bake a 9-inch pie shell.  While pie crust is still hot, fill with lemon pudding and spread meringue over the pudding, spreading clear to the edges of the pie.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until lightly browned on top.

Lemon pie is also wonderful with whipped cream in place of meringue.  This is even simpler, but it will leave you with finding something to do with your egg whites . . .

Please share your pie recipes or links below!



Pie of the Month: Honey Pecan Pie

lovely pecan pie slice


Well, I promised you a pie challenge, and this pie was quite challenging for me.  First of all, I had trouble choosing a recipe for pecan pie.  I was certain this pie could be made with honey, because corn syrup seems like it must be a relatively new invention.  Also, since corn syrup is not a “real” food (it is made through high-level processing) it is persona non grata at our house.  It was troubling as well because most pecan pie seem to me to be too thin: they leave me wanting a little more.  My solution was to add extra pecans to the recipe.  The third problem I had in making this pie was the baking instructions.  The recipe I finally settled on called for baking the pie for a total of 40 minutes, steadily lowering the baking temperature.  However, after the 2nd temperature change (from 400 to 300 degrees) and 20 minutes, the pie was not set at all.  With only 10 minutes left on the original timer, I scoured my cookbooks and reset the oven to 350 degrees.  This resulted in a slightly carmelized top as the top element in the oven came on to bring the oven up to that temperature.

Well, I guess it’s enough to say we ate this pie in one sitting.  The honey taste was not too strong for my dissenter (Max isn’t into honey,) and everyone loved the nuts.  Even the carmelized top was a nice addition, and the (Crisco-based) pie crust was the best I’ve made in months!

unbaked pecan pie

Here’s the recipe:

Unbaked pie shell

3 eggs, beaten until light

1 cup honey

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Beat eggs until very light and frothy.  Add honey and melted butter in a steady stream.  When thoroughly combined, add vanilla, salt and pecan and mix well.  Pour into pie shell.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake about 30 minutes more, until filling is set.  Cool completely before serving.

I hope you are having your own pie adventure this month.  Please leave a link or a recipe in the comments below!

Aprons and a Plan

Today has been a nasty, snowy, windy day here in central Utah.  Great time to spend some quality time with the kitchen.  The girls and I put our new aprons to good use (made by Grandma!)


As I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, I thought about one of my goals for 2012:  make a pie every month.   I know it’s a strange goal — after all, I usually am trying to restrict goodies and use less sugar.  But pie is a special kind of dessert.  It always seems to me to be more work than a cake, and especially if it is a fruit pie, more wholesome.  It is also old-fashioned and (in this family) consumed in a single sitting.

I realized that of all the things on my goal list for last year, this was one I had accomplished!  We have eaten some wonderful (and not so wonderful) pies this year.  So my plan is to share my pie resolution with you.  Here it is:  make a pie every month during 2013.  Share it with the group of us here on this site.  I am already excited to begin for 2013.  About the 15th of each month, I’ll post about the pie I made, and you can leave recipes or links in the comments to the pies you made.  Sound good?

Here’s my plan so far:

  • January — Honey Pecan pie (I’ve never made a pecan pie, and I object to corn syrup)
  • February — Grape Pie (the recipe says it is a lot like a gooseberry pie — I’ll have to try it!)
  • March — Lemon Meringue Pie
  • April — Old fashioned Indian Cream Pie (doesn’t the name say it all?)
  • May — The Best Rhubarb pie (with my mother-in-law’s secret ingredient)
  • June — Cherry pie (or some variation) for cherry season
  • July — Peach pie (the summer’s first peach pie is the best!)
  • August — Pear- maple syrup pie (I think I can get pears by then, and I’ve never made pear pie.)
  • September — Apple pie, of course!  Maybe an apple-raspberry, or apple-?
  • October — This could easily be another apple pie — apple season is wonderful or banana cream, Shandy’s favorite
  • November — Pumpkin pie with home cooked squash
  • December — Cranberry pie –now to choose my favorite recipe

Of course, the list is likely to change.  Still, I’m excited to share my pie creations with you, and see what you have to share as well!

Kids in the Kitchen: Key Lime Pie

One of my goals for 2012 was to make a pie each month.  Even though I had already made pumpkin pies in December, I decided to make one last pie to top off the year — a key lime pie.  Mom had given me a whole bunch of limes, and I had some willing helpers to help juice them.  Key lime pie is so terribly easy, I couldn’t help but make one.

Lucy and Max juiced the limes.  Limes juice easier if you microwave them for 20 seconds before slicing.

juicing limes

My recipe calls for only egg yolks.  I showed the kids how to separate eggs just by lifting the yolk out of the bowl of egg white.  This is the most kid friendly way to separate eggs, even if it is MESSY!

max separating eggs

After beating the three ingredients together, we poured the mixture into the pre-baked shell (a Crisco crust, this time.  I like butter crusts, but sometimes just want the crispness that Crisco provides.)  Bake for 10-15 minutes, and when the pie is cool, top with whipped cream.  YUM!

Here’s the recipe:

1 pre-baked pie shell

1 can sweetened condensed milk

4 egg yolks

1/3  cup lime juice

whipping cream for serving

Beat egg yolks until combined, then add sweetened condensed milk and mix thoroughly.  While continuing to beat, slowly add lime juice.  Pour into pie shell and bake in 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until pie is softly set.  Remove from oven and cool completely before serving.

Come back tomorrow for the 2013 pie challenge!

Kids in the Kitchen — Buttermilk Pie

I have left the ways of my foremothers with my pies.  My paternal grandmother taught me to make pie crust when I was about 13.  The key ingredient was “hurry!”  She used all purpose flour, salt and Crisco to make a tender “long flaked” pie crust.  I continued to make pie crust this way for a long time, until forced by a sick friend’s restricted diet to experiment with butter crusts.  Butter is more difficult to work than Crisco while cutting in, but more forgiving in the rolling stage.  It imparts a flavor to pie crust that is wonderful.  And since butter is harder to cut in, I use my food processor to do it. (Sorry, Grandma.  No, Daddy, I still make you the Crisco crust.)

Now I have gone even farther, however.  Not only do I use butter, but I always use at least half whole-wheat flour.  I love the flavor whole-wheat flour gives to fruit pies.  It brings an added nuttiness that enhances the whole flavor experience.  I made one pie crust with whole-wheat pastry flour, but it was so tender I had to lay it onto the pie plate in pieces.  It tasted wonderful but looked more like a cobbler cobbled together than a pie.

I recently got into my head to try a buttermilk pie.  I love puddings and custards, and thought I should try this out with a whole wheat crust.  Lulu was my helper for this pie, and while I made the pie crust, she stirred together the ingredients for the custard.


For the pie crust:

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

½ cup butter

1 teaspoon salt

Sometimes I add 1 Tablespoon sugar to this crust, but not usually.

Cut the butter in pieces and put it in the food processor along with the flour and salt.  Whirl until the butter is in small pieces (pea size and smaller.) Remove to a bowl.  Add cold water (about ¼ cup) until you can gather the dough together into a ball with your fingers.  Form into a ball, then press out into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, or until ready to use.

Buttermilk pie custard recipe borrowed from NPR with slight modifications

½  cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)

1 cup buttermilk

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk all ingredients together.  Roll out pie crust and place in pie plate.  Dust with flour.  Pour custard into the pie shell and sprinkle with sugar and freshly grated nutmeg.  Bake at 325 degrees for about one hour.  Custard will still appear jiggly in the middle but will set as it cools.

We enjoyed this pie warm and a little runny.  It was not the prettiest pie we have ever eaten, but we did enjoy it — and we eat with our mouths, not our eyes (thank goodness.)