Once you’ve tried my extra creamy lemon meringue pie recipe it will be the only one you’ll want to make in the future! The different components of this dessert are delicious by themselves, and together they create the perfect combination of flavors and textures. A super creamy, tangy lemon filling rests over a crumbly, buttery-flavored sablée dough. All that deliciousness is crowned with a mound of shiny and firm Italian meringue, which helps to balance the acidity of the lemons.
I’ve been always in search of the perfect lemon meringue pie, and after trying and adjusting many recipes I ended up creating this one, which has all the characteristics I love in this dessert. The filling has the right amount of lemon flavor, and it’s also extra creamy. The pie crust keeps the moisture of the filling for a long time and the meringue that keeps its shape and doesn’t collapse over time.
How is lemon meringue pie made?
To make this extra creamy lemon pie, these are roughly the steps we’re going to take:
- Prepare the dough, roll it out and bake fully in the pan.
- Prepare the lemon filling and pour it over the already baked crust.
- Make the Italian meringue and place on top of the filling, with a piping bag or with a spatula. Burn the meringue and decorate.
- Let cool down and serve.
What is the best meringue for a lemon meringue pie?
For my part, the best meringue for the lemon pie is Italian meringue, since it has a foamy but firm consistency, it keeps its shape and does not collapse over time, nor does it leak once the lemon pie is finished. Also, this type of meringue is cooked, and it’s important to make sure that we cook the egg whites since the pie will not go back to the oven once we add the meringue to it.
As tempting as it may seem to prepare a quick French meringue, this is not a good option since we should take the entire pie to the oven until the egg whites in the meringue get cooked. On top of that, this type of meringue tends to fall down and leak over time.
Another idea would be to make a Swiss meringue. This is my second choice on the list. This is also a food-safe meringue since it is cooked. However, the consistency tends to be “elastic” and silky, whereas Italian tends to be more foamy and airy, something I prefer in a lemon pie. It is also usually less firm than the Italian meringue, something to think about if you were planning to use a piping bag for the decoration.
1. Rolling the dough
It’s very important to refrigerate the dough before rolling it out since cold dough will less likely break while rolling it and transferring it to the pie pan. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or ideally for 1 hour. After that time the dough will be firm, so we must break it into small pieces and knead lightly until it gets to a more stretchable consistency.
2. A neat crust that keeps its shape
With this sablée dough recipe, you don’t need to use pie weights to keep the crust propped up while baking. Just take the pie pan with the crust to the freezer for between 5 to 15 minutes before baking and it will keep its shape perfectly.
3. Flavor substitution
This recipe can be adapted to make other citrus flavors such as lime or orange. Simply replace the lemon juice and zest with the fruit of your choice.
4. Steps in advance
For this dessert, the only thing that can be made in advance is the crust. The dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months well wrapped in plastic, or for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It can also be baked a day before placing the filling. It’s very important to store it in an airtight container to keep it from the air humidity.
I don’t recommend making the filling in advance as it will firm up. It’s better to make the filling once the crust is ready to be filled up. The meringue should be made only once the filling is on the crust.
5. Meringue syrup stage
Besides using a thermometer, you can check the doneness of the syrup with the soft ball stage test. In a glass with cold water, pour a few drops of the syrup, after a few minutes that it has begun to boil. Take one of the drops with your fingers and if you can form a soft ball with it, the syrup will be ready. If it dissolves in the water, repeat the test until the syrup becomes firmer.
You can decorate the pie with meringue dollops using a piping bag with a round tip or with a star tip. I recommend a large round tip to make big blobs. Another option is to place the meringue with a spatula for more rustic decoration. You can brown the meringue with a torch. Finish the decoration with thin lemon slices glazed in jam or syrup, mint leaves, flowers from your garden, or lemon zest.
Extra Creamy Lemon Meringue Pie
For the crust:
- 150 g Unsalted butter
- 100 g White sugar
- 3 Yolks
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 250 g All purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
For the Filling:
- 100 g White sugar
- 30 g Cornstarch
- 4 Yolks
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 200 ml Water
- 150 g Whipping cream
For the Italian meringue:
- 4 Egg whites
- 280 g White sugar
- 140 ml Water
For the crust:
- In a bowl, beat the soft butter with the sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
- Add the yolks one by one, mixing well between each addition.
- Add the flour and salt to the mixture and mix until combined. On the counter, slightly knead the dough and form a bun. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour.
- Remove from the fridge. Work the dough lightly with your hands until it feels stretchable. Stretch with a rolling pin and place on the pie pan, pressing the dough against the edges and removing the excess. Prick the bottom with a fork. Put the pie base in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before baking.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.
For the filling:
- In a saucepan mix all the ingredients except the cream with a hand whisk.
- Bring to low heat and mix constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.
- When bubbles show up, continue mixing with the heat on for one more minute.
- Remove from heat and add the cream. Mix well. Let the filling cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pour the filling over the baked pie base and make it even with an offset spatula. Let the filling cool down for a while before you place it in the fridge. Let cool down completely before topping with Italian meringue.
For the meringue:
- In a saucepan, place the sugar and water and bring to high heat.
- While the syrup heats up, beat the egg whites with a handheld mixer or a stand mixer at low speed until stiff peaks form.
- When the syrup reaches 117ºC or 240°F remove it from the heat and slowly drizzle into the egg whites mixing all the time at medium-high speed.
- Continue mixing until the meringue has cooled and has a firm consistency.
- Place the meringue on top of the already cold filling and burn with a torch. Garnish with lemon slices and serve cold.