Friday, May 3, 2013

Reine's Mother's Lemon Meringue Pie

LUCY BURDETTE: Every once in a while we get into a conversation outside the blog with one of our readers--and it's too good not to share.

Today, for example, I have permission to post Reine Carter's mother's recipe for lemon meringue pie. Reine also offered this: "if you want to go whole hog and try my mother's Killer Lard Crust, let me know, and I'll send you her recipe. It really is the best ever. But I know... arteries." (Readers, I turned her down on the lard...)

I asked Reine for some background on her mom and the pie and here are the wonderful photos and notes she sent me:

From Reine: "this picture comes from the last good time of life we had together, a time when we made pie. 

All our good times involved food or sport, usually both. Maybe that is why I like the ice fishing photo where we were cooking while fishing and skating." 

And she also said:  
"PS: Living down Francis Ave from Julia Child in Cambridge didn't rub off on me at all. Usually we talked about things like picking up litter as another purpose for walking."

With no further ado, here it is:

Dahrotah’s Tart Lemon Meringue Pie

    Pie Shell:
    •    Pre-Bake your favorite 9” pie shell.

    Lemon Filling:
    •    4 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
    •    1/3 cup cornstarch
    •    1/2 cup water
    •    1 1/3 cups sugar
    •    1/4 teaspoon salt
    •    3 tablespoons butter
    •    juice and rind of 1 large lemon (1/2 cup lemon juice) (note from Lucy--this took 2 and a half lemons for me)

    Filling Method:
    •    Whisk egg yolks in medium mixing bowl and set aside.
    •    In medium saucepan combine cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.
    •    Heat on medium stirring frequently.
    •    Bring mixture to boil. Boil for one minute, and remove from heat.
    •    Gradually - very, very gradually - add hot mixture to egg yolks and stir until you have added at least half of the mixture.
    •    Return egg mixture to saucepan. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for one additional minute.
    •    Remove from heat and gently stir in butter, lemon juice, and zest, combining well.
    •    Pour mixture into pie shell and top with meringue while feeling is still hot.

    Meringue topping:
    •    4 egg whites
    •    1 pinch cream of tartar
    •    2 tablespoons sugar

    Meringue method:
    •    Place egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl.
    •    Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. I use an electric mixer with whisk attachment. My mother always used a copper bowl and long French whip. (Mother’s note: “Stop chuckling”).
    •    Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 2 two minutes with electric accoutrements (Note from Mother: “You’re giggling”).
    •    Top pie with meringue while filling is still hot.
Make sure meringue completely covers filling and the edge of the crust.

    •    Place oven rack in center of oven.
    •    Preheat oven to 375°
    •    Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until meringue is light golden brown.
    •    Remove from oven and cool on wire rack… please, not in refrigerator.
    •    Pie must cool completely before slicing.

LUCY BURDETTE: I have never made a meringue before this (like my character, Hayley Snow, they freak me out!) But it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined. I used this crust recipe that came from my dad. As you can see, the meringue was gorgeous! I had a little trouble with the filling being runny so I consulted our JRW pie expert, Beth Howard. (Can you say lemon soup?) She suggested cutting back the water to 1/2 cup. The consistency did not affect the taste--which all my testers pronounced outstanding. Thanks for sharing Reine!

JRReaders: are you lemon pie fans? (If you try the recipe, let us know how it compares to yours.)


  1. Generally I am not a pie person at all, but this pie sounds wonderful and looks delicious . . . thank you, Reine and Lucy, for sharing the recipe . . . . The pictures of Reine and her mother are really special . . . .

  2. Lucy, my mother would have loved this. Thank you.

    Sorry about the watery pie -- my fault, completely! I copied it wrong. Cold lemon soup with floating meringue sounds pretty good, though.


  3. Delighted to have you and the pie Reine! And the flavor was outstanding. Thank you for sharing:)

  4. Marianne in MaineMay 3, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    Thank you for sharing this, Reine. I love tart flavors but I'm not a baker. Not by a long shot. And I can't eat sugar (unable to digest it and it makes me ill) so I wonder how this would work with Splenda or the like? Will the meringue form with a sugar substitute? I've only ever made one pie in my life.

    I had to laugh at the lemon soup. One Thanksgiving at my in-laws we ended up with cranberry soup instead of the ring mold that was intended. I wasn't responsible for that. I was to blame for the gravy that we couldn't de-lump. It was memorable meal.

    One learns so much from JRW! :-)

  5. I want to hear more about the ice -fishing...what a great pic!

  6. ..oh..and i made watery pumpkin pie once. Used the wrong size pan and tried to increase quantities but it didn't work. Thanksgiving, of course, at someoen else's home. They were so polite, no one said a word!

  7. So, is the recipe as written correct, or does it need to be corrected?

    Lemon meringue is one of my all-time favorites, along with coconut meringue and chocolate bourbon pecan pie. What's not to like? Lemon pie is a perfect spring and summer dessert, too, isn't it?

    Thank you, Reine, and thank you, Lucy, for sharing this with us!

  8. This made me laugh remembering the times I made brownie soup and sweet scrambled eggs that were supposed to be custard.

    Thanks for this Reine! I love anything lemon. REAL tart lemon. Though I'm not a huge fan of meringue. AND I love pie.

    Recently I rediscovered Crisco crust after so many years insisting that store-boughts are fine. For the record, they are not.

    I'm a cream pie fan. Banana. Coconut. But the calories are too ridiculous to contemplate.

  9. I love lemon meringue pie, so thank you, Reine, for sharing! In fact, the very first pie I made by myself was a lemon meringue, and it turned out beautifully, except I neglected to seal the meringue to the crust around the edges and I ended up with an island of meringue floating on a lemon pie. Still tasted good! My favorite crust recipe is from The Best Recipe (America's Test Kitchens). It uses butter and shortening. Really, at that point, is lard so much worse?

  10. I made lemon meringue pie for my grandpa, his favorite. I haven't made any pies lately . . . might be time to try again. Thanks, Reine, for sharing.

  11. Lucy and Reine, thanks for this! I love lemon meringue pie.

    Lard is the best for pie crusts--and no worse, cholesterol-wise, than Crisco or butter (actually much better than Crisco which has those awful transfats!). The problem now is that it's very difficult to find lard that hasn't had transfats added to make it no longer need refrigeration. Real lard, like real butter, must be refrigerated. When you see that lard sitting on the grocery store shelves, know that the manufacturers have deliberately turned it into something unnatural and ten times as unhealthy.

    The best enchiladas and tamales are made with manteca (real lard), also.

  12. Marianne in Maine, thank you for having the confidence to ask me about changing the recipe. Remember, I'm the one who messed up the original sugar version! xoxo

  13. Thanks, Reine and Lucy! How did you know I'd been talking about how sad I was that I didn't have my mom's lemon meringue pie recipe! I think this must be pretty close, so I must give it a try!

    And Reine, tell us about your mom's interesting name.

  14. Ro, we used to go ice fishing on the Concord River in Massachusetts during the winter, but this particular day I believe was the Shawsheen River closer to my great-grandmother's camp.

    My mother would pack the fishing gear into the big wooden box, grab some food from the kitchen, usually hot dogs and marshmallows. and put it all in the back of the car. I think you can see the box in the picture. When we got to the river we'd chop some holes in the ice and set up the equipment. When we got a bite a red flag would pop up. Then we'd would pull the fish out of the water through the hole in the ice. That was the idea, anyway. I used To think my fish were huge, but really the holes I chopped were too small!

    I was very, very good at roasting marshmallows, though.

  15. Ro, I hear from my cousins in Sweden that chilled pumpkin soup is excellent! And you don't need the crust. xoxo

  16. Karen, hi. The recipe is correct now as printed here -- thanks to a spontaneous team of experts to fix it! If you like lemony pie or pudding, you'll love this. It has a full lemon flavor. Auntie-Mom always makes this pie when I visit her in Palm Desert. She has several lemon trees in the her front courtyard. Perfect!


  17. Hallie, My mother often made this as s a double-crust lemon pie, no meringue. Auntie-Mom tells me I always called it the double-crossed pie when my mum made it like that, so she has always made it with meringue. I just told her I thought that's what it was called. It took me years to understand she was saying double crust!

    My brownie batter never made it out of the bowl to even try to become brownie soup. Congratulations to you, Hallie!

  18. Sandi, meringue-float pie is a family favorite! My mother would chill the lard in the fridge until the last minute before making the crust. Auntie-Mom says it's the lard that melts slowly as the crust cooks that makes it flaky. Because lard is so dense it leaves lots of air gaps in the dough, and that is what makes it flaky. xxx

  19. Storyteller Mary, I think you would like this – a lot! It's great to make in the wintertime when the lemons are in season. xoxo

  20. So tempting that I'll have to make this at Long Pond this summer. But....could Reine please re-do the recipe or confirm that it is correct as it FIRST appeared in the blog.

  21. Recipe is correct as written here Pat. My version had more water:).

    Love hearing about the ice fishing too! Did you have a little warming hut?

  22. Thank you for the clarification.

    I can no longer have any kind of crust, but I'm pretty sure it won't even matter. Lemony anything is fabulous.

    Reine, I envy Auntie-Mom those lemon trees! What a great thing, to be able to walk outside to "shop". Once, when Steve and I were traveling on lecture circuit in Florida we stayed with a couple who lived at the edge of a citrus grove. She was from England, and she made the most amazing lemon curd. I still have the recipe somewhere, just have never tried it. I'm half afraid it couldn't possibly live up to the curd of my memory.

  23. Debs, I'm so sorry that you lost your mother's lemon pie recipe. This one is quite tart. If you make it let us know how it comes out and if it is at all like your mom's.

    I am not sure about my mother's name, Dahrotah. She went by Dorothy most of her life, but she was baptized Dahrotah. She thought it was Seneca or Mohawk, because her grandfather was called Gahgik, Mohawk – I think, for crow. He had black hair. Dahrotah is also a Polish name, and some of her ancestors were from Russia/Poland.


  24. Pat, I hope you do make the pie, and I'd love to hear how it comes out.

    We used to go swimming in a lake in Billerica, Massachusetts that was called Long Pond. The old timers used to call it Long Sought For Pond. Before that we went swimming in Nutting's Lake -- until my italian uncle told my father it was a mob dumpsite, that is. Shhhhh...

  25. I love the picture of you and your mother, and the ice fishing-enterprising lady. I love almost all pies, but lemon meringue is one of my favorites. Alas, those days are gone, but Iam enjoying thinking about it.

  26. Lucy, my mother just laughed the time someone asked her about a warming hut! No. See that fire she's tending? She built that directly on the ice. I asked her once why the ice didn't melt. She said that the dirt we put on the ice before building the fire insulated it.

  27. Karen, it makes a great lemon pudding. I put it in custard cups.

    Auntie-Mom's lemon trees make a beautiful entry to her house. She trims the bottom branches so you can sit out on the patioesque courtyard. I love having iced tea with fresh lemon and chatting with her there.


  28. Lil, thank you. I don't have many pictures of us together. My mother said she lost them, but what happened was she packed up the car one night, with our clothes and a few personal items. We left our house and most of our belongings behind. I think Auntie-Mom might have had these. I do treasure them.

  29. Marianne in Maine -- gravy isn't supposed to be lumpy??? Now I know why everyone keeps offering to make the gravy.

  30. Marianne in MaineMay 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Reine, I think the positive result of my lumpy gravy is that, indeed, no one asks me to bring it now. But I make an awesome cranberry sauce. And my husband, bless him, likes my gravy.

    I love the idea of lemon pudding, too. I'm going to try it sugar free.

  31. Marianne, I'd love to know how your sugar-free lemon pudding turns out. I understand there are some sweeteners that you can cook with -- one of the new ones on the market.

    Do you use artificial sweetener with your cranberry sauce?


  32. Marianne in MaineMay 4, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Yes, Reine, I make it with Splenda. I try not to use too much artificial sweetener day to day but holidays are special.

  33. Marianne, thanks for the tip. I can pass along to my cousins. Let me know how it works with the pie, please, if you make it.

  34. There was a Dahrotah on Gossip Girl. She was the maid.

    I made Easy Fruit Pie a few weeks ago. It's actually more of a cobbler than a pie. You can make it with blueberry pie filling or any other kind. I baked it too long, but otherwise it was good. I'll definitely make it again. The recipe is in Joanne Fluke's latest book, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder.

    I also like to make Bisquick Peach Cobbler. I love vanilla ice cream with my cobbler.