Lemon Meringue (and Banana Cream) Pie!

Last weekend was filled with unexpected heat, funny friends, and many many forms of delicious PIE. I gathered up plenty of research for my first full fledged Pi(e) Day and wanted to make something refreshing, classic, and like you got it from grandma's oven. Chris' favorite dessert is lemon bars, so I decided to do a nod to the sticky treats and make a lemon meringue pie. We also made a banana cream pie since it'd use most of the same ingredients and bring some diversity to the mix.

Chris was on meringue duty, I was on pie crust and filling duty. Our first pie baking session was... sort of a success! We learned some things in making pie:

1. Bon Appetit was right, definitely use cold butter in your crust. √

2. Don't be lazy and only build up the "pie walls" partway cause you didn't roll out the dough enough. (ahem, oops) It will shrink and collapse and not be as pretty as you imagined. The below shot is a bad execution! Definitely pull your crust to the edges!

3. You can use less sugar than recipes call for and still get super sweet desserts. But do be careful about how much sugar you remove or what substitutes you use. Baking is all about the ratios and timing.

4. Do not, I repeat, do not add fresh banana to the cream mixture thinking "oh won't this taste great and nice and banana-y and creamy!" WRONG. The sugar and water in the fruit will make your cream super "soupy" as Chris likes to call it. I should have listened to the advice I gave in my last post, to let the fruit sit and pour off the juice that gets extracted. Oh well, ya live and learn!

5. Cream of tartar might be the secret to success to keep your meringue stiff all afternoon. We didn't use that. Next time.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes 1 delicious pie (8-10 slices)

Special tools
Food processor
Pie dishes

For the crust
follow recipe by Pies N Thighs

For the Filling
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced & some zest
2 Tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks

For the Meringue
4 egg whites (how convenient!)
4 Tablespoons sugar


In the morning we made the crust. We wanted to be sure it'd be nice and cold. So we followed the recipe above from Pies N Thighs, popped the dough into the fridge, and went on a run.

After chilling the dough for about 2 hours, preheat oven to 350' while you roll out your two pie crusts (one for the lemon meringue, one for banana cream - if you're just making 1 pie, just save one of the crusts for another time.) I rolled them out about 1/4 inch thick and used a little flour to keep it from sticking.

Then cover each pie dish and be sure to crimp the edge of the crust and fold it over the edge so the dough doesn't slump down like mine did. Quickly place them back in the fridge to cool before baking. After the dough is firm and cool to the touch, add them into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough is cooked and light brown. Remove from oven to cool. Below is my sad, shrunken crust. Don't let its wimpy looks fool you though, it was darn tasty!

Separate egg whites from yolks, setting the whites in the mixer and yolks to the side. Add 4 Tablespoons of sugar to the whites and turn on mixer with whisk attachment on high until stiff peaks form. It should take about 10 minutes. While that's whizzing away, combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt in a pot and cook on low to let the sugars melt. Stir for a minute and then add water, lemon juice and zest till combined into a syrup. Add butter and egg yolks one at a time whisking constantly till nice and yellow, forming your lemon filling.

Check to see if stiff peaks have formed with your meringue. Once complete, fill your cooled crust with lemon filling, then top with a high mountain of meringue. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the meringue is browned slightly. Remove from oven and cool.

For the banana cream pie, we used this recipe! And the other half of the pie crust from Pies N Thighs.  I also snuck in a few chocolate chips on the warm crust to give a few chocolate-y bites. Just like the lemon meringue, we made the banana filling, topped with meringue, and baked for 10-15 minutes.

We packed up the pies, grabbed some blankets, gathered up some friends, and had a pie picnic at the park (say that 5 times fast.) I was so impressed by how clever our friends were with the pies. We had your traditional cherry, lemon meringue, and banana cream pies. But then we also had an egg pie (Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese, & Rosemary Quiche), mini pie (Apple & Berry Galette), and two pizza pies (Proschuitto & Arugula Pizza and Butternut Squash & Ricotta Pizza)!!! It was the perfect mix of sweet and savory.

Naturally, our bellies hurt after eating entirely too much food. But you gotta try a little bit of everything, right? Luckily, I've always got a frisbee in the back of my car. So we ran around the park, flailing the thing about and burned off some pie calories while simultaneously scaring fellow park goers. We didn't hurt anyone in the making of this blog post. Maybe a tree or two.

Can't wait till the next Pi(e) Day! See ya in 2115 folks ;) Or, maybe we'll just celebrate the next 3.14. I should really brush up on my pie skills. In the summer when they're in season, I want to make a strawberry rhubarb pie! #dreambig