Lemon meringue pie reminds me of my grandpap, Andy Kozusko, Sr. It was his favorite, and a few times a year my grandma Zella made one for him, completely from scratch, of course.
My grandpap was a member of the Greatest Generation, born in Pittsburgh to Slovak immigrants in August 1921. He served in the Navy during World War II; he worked hard, knew how to fix everything, took great pride in his home and lawn, drove me to school, volunteered as a fireman, and served as a usher at church. He had more patience and gratitude than any person I’ve ever known.
This recipe comes from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and although the filling is kind of runny, it tastes delicious. I suspect that if my grandpap were here today, he’d thank me for making him a pie, tell me it was delicious, and ask for a second piece…because he was just that kind of man.
For the crust
- 1 pie crust,* pre-baked and cooled
For the filling
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- dash of salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- zest of 1 medium lemon
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
For the meringue
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons sugar
*My pie crust recipe yields 3 crusts, enough for this pie and either one or two more, depending on what you choose to make. Check out my pie ideas!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place beaten egg yolks in a large glass measuring cup next to your stove.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt; mix well. Slowly pour in water, stirring constantly to break up lumps. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly; once you see large bubbles break on the surface, it’s ready. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes more.
Gradually stir about 1 cup of hot filling into egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper. Pour the yolk/filling mixture back into the pan and bring to a gentle boil, then cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and butter, stirring until butter completely melts. Very carefully stir in lemon juice; keep filling warm while you make the meringue.
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form (soft peaks will curl). Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy; this will take about 4 minutes.
Pour filling into pre-baked pie crust and gently top with meringue, spreading over filling and sealing to the edge of the crust to prevent it from shrinking.
Bake for 15 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate for 3-6 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator.