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Lemon Meringue Pie (Gayle's Bakery)

Author/Submitted by: Gayle & Joe Ortiz, The Village Baker's Wife, Typos by Brenda Adams <>; Posted mc&lu 10/12/97
Servings: 8
Categories: Desserts / Low-Fat/Low-Cal / Pies & Pastries


1 1/8  cups  sugar
1/2  cup  cornstarch
2  tablespoons  cornstarch
2 1/2  cups  cold water
5  large  egg yolks
2  tablespoons  butter
2  tablespoons  lemon zest
1/2  cup  fresh lemon juice, strained
    pie crust, 10-inch, cooled

5  large  egg whites
3/4  cup  sugar
1/4  teaspoon  cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Start the filling only when you are ready to prepare the whole pie; this pie cannot be made in stages. In the top of a double boiler, off the heat, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Add the water and, using a whisk, stir until the mixture is well dissolved, making sure no cornstarch lumps remain. Whisk in the egg yolks and stir until the mixture is smooth.

3. Place the egg mixture over boiling water, and cook, whisking continuously.After about 7 minutes, the mixture will thicken rapidly. After it has thickened, cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the butter, then remove from the heat. Quickly whisk in the lemon zest and juice and stir until blended. Immediately cover the mixture to keep it warm. Set aside.

4. To make the meringue, make sure all your mixing equipment is grease free. Then, with a whisk combine the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a tabletop mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir continuously with the whisk until the mixture is just warm to the touch.

5. Return the bowl to the mixer, fit the mixer with the whip attachment, and whip at high speed until the meringue forms soft peaks, about 2 minutes. The meringue should be glossy and smooth, not chunky.

6. Pour the lemon filling into the cooled fully baked 10-inch pie shell and spread it out evenly.

7. So that the meringue is easy to spread evenly, place it 3 or 4 places on the filling, rather than piling it all in the center. (If you have a cake turntable, placing the pie on it while applying the meringue makes the process easier.) Using an icing spatula, spread the meringue completely over the surface of the pie. Make sure the meringue meets the outside rim of the crust all the way around the pie (so that it will create a seal with the crust when baked). Place the remaining meringue in the center of the pie. Use the spatula to shape the meringue into the classic dome, complete with swirls that will brown nicely.

8. Place the pie on the center tack in the oven and bake for 6 minutes. Most of the meringue will be a very light brown, with some areas still white and the higher peaks a darker brown.

9. Set the pie on a wire rack in a draft-free location and let cool for 4 hours before serving.

ABOUT MERINGUE : Many recipes are based on a combination of egg whites and sugar, and although the amounts, methods, and techniques vary to create different results, most involve whipping. Proper whipping of egg whites is not as mystifying or difficult as many people think. Following two basic rules will usually result in successfully whipped egg whites. First, always use equipment that is totally grease-free. Second, if you're unsure how long to whip the whites, it's usually better to underwhip than overwhip them.This is especially true when whipping egg whites with a tabletop or handheld mixer; once you've checked their consistency, you can whip them just a bit longer with a whisk if necessary. SOFT PEAK: Egg whites at soft peak are usually whipped without sugar at medium to high speed.They will lust barely hold a peak, still look foamy, and slide around freely in the bowl. MORE NOTES: Although the ingredients and proportion are fairly standard for this pie, our technique is a little unusual. We feel the additional steps are well worth the efiort. We have discovered that it is very important for the filling to be warm when the meringue is applied. This helps seal the meringue to the filling so the two don't separate when cut. Instead of pouring the filling directly into the crust right after it is made and letting it cool, the filling is kept warm in the double boiler until the meringue is ready. Some meringues develop beads of moisture, are chunky and unappetizing, or fall apart when cut. Heating the egg whites and sugar together before whipping solves these problems and makes a silky smooth meringue that slices beautiflilly. (Not even one drop of moisture beaded up on the meringue when we tested the recipe during a major rainstorm.) This pie is best the day it is made. It may be stored uncovered at room temperature overnight, but some liquid will form under the crust the next day. Caution: This recipe must be made in a 10-inch pie plate. It makes too much filling to work in a 9-inch pie plate. Source: This is book based on bakery goods made at Gayle's Bakery -- opened in 1978 -- in Capitola California (seaside town 90 miles south of San Francisco). The book is called The Village Baker's Wife, by Gayle and Joe Ortiz with Louisa Beers (1979, Ten Speed Press, ISBN 0-89815-869-9). The authors write: "This book is an entire pastry shop between two covers." Prior to this, Joe wrote a book: The Village Baker.

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