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40 mins

The Secret Lives of Baked Goods
THIS RECIPE CALLS FOR A CRUST that uses vegetable shortening: while one might make a good argument for the superior taste of an all-butter crust, I urge you to try this one, using at least part shortening, to get the real diner-style piecrust experi- ence. I find that that while you get a slightly less flaky crust with the shortening, it is very tender—and it acts a bit like a sponge, absorbing the flavors of the lemon custard in a very nice way. Though optional, a few drops of yellow food coloring add a little “oomph” to the naturally pale yellow cake.

Makes one 9-inch pie (8 servings)

Pie crust
1 cup all-purpose flour

Meringue topping
4 egg whites

Posted by Jessie Oleson from Seattle, Washington, United States • Published See Jessie Oleson's 17 projects »

© 2023 Jessie Oleson Moore / Running Press · Reproduced with permission. · (c) 2013 by Jessie Oleson Moore. Reprinted from The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts with permission from Sasquatch Books.
  • Step 1

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork. Set aside.

    3. Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Let it come to a boil; stir constantly for 1 minute at the boiling point. It will begin to thicken. Remove from the heat.

    4. Immediately pour about one-quarter of the hot mixture into the egg yolks; when well combined, pour this mixture back into the saucepan. Boil and stir for 2 minutes; remove from the heat. Add the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and food coloring. Stir until the but- ter is melted and everything is well combined. Pour the hot filling into the piecrust.

    5. Prepare the meringue topping, then spoon it onto the filling. Spread it evenly over the filling, carefully sealing the meringue to the edges of the crust to prevent shrinking or weeping. Using a knife, form the top of the meringue into little peaks (think punk hairdo) or make swirls on the top for a pretty finish.

    6.Bakefor8to12minutes,oruntilthemeringueislightbrown.Set the pie on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool in a draft-free place for about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate the cooled pie until serving. Store any leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

  • Step 2


    Makes one 9-inch crust ]
    1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cut in the shorten- ing and/or butter using a pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through the ingredients in opposite directions), until the particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all the flour is moistened and the pastry almost cleans the sides of the bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water may be added if necessary).
    2. Gather the pastry into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, shape it into a flattened round. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for about 45 minutes, or until the dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. (Chilling the dough allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry flakier.) If refrigerated longer, let the pastry soften slightly before rolling.
    3. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter, dusting the board and the top of the dough as needed to prevent sticking. Fold the pastry into fourths; center it in a 9-inch pie pan. Unfold the dough and ease it into plate, pressing firmly against the bottom and sides. Trim any overhanging dough so that it extends about 1 inch from the rim of the pie pan. Fold the edge of the dough under, making it even with plate. Press together, then flute or crimp the edge decoratively as desired. Prick the bottom and sides of the dough thoroughly with a fork. Freeze the pastry until it is hard—about 30 minutes.
    4. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
    5. Bakefor8to10minutes,oruntillightbrown;coolonawirerack.

  • Step 3

    Meringue Topping

    Makes 31⁄2 cups meringue

    1. In a very clean medium bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tar- tar with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, followed by the vanilla, and continue beating until stiff and glossy.

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