Lemon pie is a staple in the south, especially in the hotter months. Often referred to as “lemon icebox pie”, it is commonly kept in the fridge and served cold as a refreshing ending to any meal. Of course you can purchase a lemon meringue pie at any grocery store and most fast food chains, but once you’ve had it made from scratch all store bought versions will pale in comparison.
As a girl, this was always my favorite (aside from my grandmother’s cherry cheese pie!). I just love the taste of lemon, its like a little bit of sunshine to your taste buds!
This is a surprisingly simple pie to make so I’m also going to show you how to make a cookie crumb crust and a homemade meringue. I’ve gotten endless requests for a meringue recipe and tutorial so here ya go! Sorry it took me so long to get one up for you!
Feel free to use a store bought crust for this to streamline the process. Those who don’t care for meringue can leave the pie “topless” or add whipped topping in its place once your pie has been baked and cooled.
For our crust you’ll need:
- 1 box vanilla wafers
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 6 Tablespoons margarine
This is a basic cookie crumb crust which is really suited to just about any pie. You can substitute graham cracker crumbs for the wafers and even crush up stale cookies as a substitute as well. Depending on the pie, you may even want to experiment with adding a teaspoon of cinnamon for more flavor :). Have fun with it, there is no right or wrong way!
Crush half of the box of wafers (about forty of them). I used my food processor for this but you can put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin or whatever method you choose.
Running over them with the car might be fun, depending on the type of day you’re having. If you decide on that method, I’d double bag ‘em first ~winks and grins~. When automotive vehicles become involved in the baking process, you know you’re living a fun life!
Add sugar and stir well.
Until it looks like this.
Melt margarine and add to crumbs.
Mix that up well
Press that into your pan.
Take the remainder of your cookies and press them into the crust along the top of the sides like this.
Now is where you might want to use a pastry brush to brush down the crumbs which are in between the wafers. I don’t and I won’t. Have you ever noticed that we have an odd habit of trying to make our homemade pies and cakes look like they are store bought? Doesn’t this strike you as strange? Knowing homemade is a hundred times better than anything pre made in a store, I just let my homemade baked goods go on looking homemade. Trust me, its a good thing.
Now lets make our filling. You’ll need:
- sweetened condensed milk (14 – 15 ounce can)
- lemon juice (You can use fresh or bottled)
We need to separate our whites from our yolks. They sell all manner of contraptions for doing this but I’m going to show you how to do it the old fashioned way, which means you’ll have one less one-use utensil in your drawer.
Tap egg gently on the side of the bowl to crack it.
Separate halves slowly
Hold the halves so that the yolk (dark yellow part) is in one, letting the white drip off into the bowl.
You don’t have to have every single smidgen of white off, there will still be a bit attached to your yolk and thats fine, too.
Gently pour the yolks back into the other half and the rest of the white will drip off, you may need to tilt it slightly. Be careful not to break the yolk as we are going to use these whites to make our meringue.
If you get any of the yolk mixed in with the white your meringue won’t work.
Place your yolks in a separate bowl from your whites.
We’ll use the yolks for our filling and the whites for the meringue.
Place two egg yolks in a bowl and add entire can of sweetened condensed milk.
I am using three whites in my merginue but only two yolks in my filling so you can save the other for another use or throw it away.
Add lemon juice. Mix well with electric mixer.
Pour into prepared crust.
To make our meringue we’ll need:
- 3 egg whites
Meringue is easy to make but there are a few things to avoid in order to be successful.
- All utensils and bowls used in making meringue should be clean and free of any oily residue. Washing them in a dishwasher or very hot water with a good rinse will ensure this.
- Eggs separate easily when cold but meringue rises higher when at room temperature. Therefore, you may want to separate your eggs and then allow them to sit for half an hour or so before making your meringue. Of course I didn’t do this…
- It is important, when spreading meringue on top of your dessert, that it touches all sides of the dish. This is often referred to “sealing” your dessert and will prevent the meringue from shrinking up and leaving the sides as the dish bakes.
- If you get any yolk at all in your meringue, it will not work. If separating eggs is something you’re not quite proficient at yet, you might want to crack eggs one at a time into a coffee cup and then pour it into your bowl once you are certain there is no yolk in the white. If you do get yolk into the white, use part of the egg shell to scoop it all out rather than your fingers. Your fingers will add oil to the whites and hinder their whipping as well as break the egg yolk up further, making it almost impossible to completely remove.
Place whites in mixing bowl.
Mix with an electric mixer on high. It will begin to look sudsy very shortly.
When it looks spongey and foamy, I add my sugar.
Pour in sugar and beat on high again…we are going to go for soft peaks and I’ll show you what I mean by that.
Your whites will stop looking foamy and begin to be smooth and shiny like this.
See that peak in the meringue right around six o’clock? When you lift up your beater and it forms a peak that the tip just barely falls down on, thats a soft peak. A stiff peak could be when your point remains standing straight up. Some meringue recipes say to beat until stiff peaks form but I find that your meringue spreads prettier if you place it atop your dessert at the soft peak stage. This is just my personal preference. If stiff peaks make you happy, party on!
Place on top of your pie.
Spread it out a bit. Make sure your meringue touches the sides in all places.
You might want to pretty it up a bit by running the back of a spoon over it.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for fifteen minuts, or until top is golden. Allow to cool completely before cutting. I like to refrigerate mine and serve it cold.
Voila! Homemade Lemon Meringue Pie.
This is so much more delicious than store bought!
Another great recipe to use this homemade meringue on: Homemade Banana Pudding, the first tutorial I ever did!