This Updated Lemon Meringue Pie came about as a result of a Meringue class I taught recently on Zoom. Two things stood out. The meringue and how the filling is made. This update addresses both of those to make this easier and foolproof.
Please go here for the recipe.
The is the usual filling for a Lemon Meringue Pie but how it is made can stand some modernization. Typically, the water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt are cooked until very thick. At this point, the yolks are tempered by adding the hot liquid to them three times. Then everything is put back in the pan and brought to a boil for 1 minute.
An easier, faster way is to simply put everything but the butter in the pan at the same time and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the butter off heat, whisk in and pour into the baked pie shell. Continue as in the blog.
The Meringue for the Updated Lemon Meringue Pie
Weeping or beading as the sugar beads are known can be a problem with Meringue toppings. The meringue sliding off the filling can be another problem. Both of these are easily solved by adding the how and when the meringue is put on the pie.
Several ingredients will make a difference. Baker's sugar or caster sugar is very finely ground sugar. Using this can make the difference between the sugar dissolving in the egg whites are staying undissolved. The undissolved sugar causes the beading.
The second ingredient that can help, especially if the weather is a bit humid is to add ¼ teaspoon cornstarch per egg white. Mix the cornstarch and sugar together before slowly adding to the egg whites. The sugar should be added a spoonful at a time and then beaten for 15 to 20 seconds before adding another spoonful. This will allow time for the sugar to fully dissolve.
An acid in the form of cream of tartar, lemon juice or white vinegar will help stabalize the egg whites. I prefer the cream of tartar because I don't like adding any liquid to the egg whites. Cream of tartar is added ⅛ teaspoon per egg white.
Applying the Meringue to the Pie
Once the meringue is whipped to a stiff peak, how it is applied determines if it will slide off the filling or not.
First of all, many recipes tell you to put the meringue on the hot filling. Don't! The filling does not cook from the bottom on a hot filling because the filling isn't hot enough. That is just hooey! After the filling is added to the crust, press plastic wrap onto the top of the filling and allow it to come to room temperature.
It is most important to make sure the meringue is attached at every point to the inside of the crust. As I mention in the post, this is easiest done with a piping bag but spooning it on is fine as long as it is attached to the crust. This will keep it from slipping off the filling or shrinking back.
Browning the Crust
One of the things that will cause beading or weeping is baking the crust to brown it. Any undissolved sugar will form this little brown beads. I put my Lemon Meringue Pie on a sheet pan on the lowest rung of the oven on hi broil. Within minutes it is beautifully and evenly browned.