This recipe for deep dish lemon meringue cream pie is everything. The crust is warm, buttery, and flaky while the filling is chilled with the perfect balance of creaminess and lemony flavor. With a lightly toasted Italian meringue on top, it makes for a delectable summertime dessert. Truth be told, I made this pie a while back (ie. around the end of June) and have finally gotten around to posting it. Lemon meringue pie is one of my Grandma Cooley’s favorite desserts ever. Her lemon meringue pies are to die for. When she made hers, the crust is warm and flaky while the curd filling is silky smooth and finished off with a dollop of meringue that seems to float on top of the pie like little edible clouds. I knew I wanted to develop a version of my own. I had aspirations of making mine deep dish because…why not?
Before I get into the recipe I just wanted to share my time in Nashville. Last weekend the family and I took a four-day trip to Music City. We toured the Ryman Auditorium, at some delicious BBQ, walked around downtown, visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, had a beer at one of the bars on Broadway, and wandered the grounds of Andrew Jackson’s home Hermitage. All in all, it was a successful trip! Being in the south made me think a lot about my career in hospitality. There is something to be said about ‘southern hospitality’. Agree with the politics/viewpoints or not, there is no place like being in the south. Strolling through the gardens at Hermitage, I was struck by the overwhelming beauty and community of the south. Bluegrass music seems to echo across the rolling plains and with comfort food is piled high on every table. When I’m traveling in the south, I feel a sense of home and belongingness. It takes me think back to Sunday dinners as a kid after church, freshly fried chicken and warm butter biscuits placed on the table. Father, at the head of the table, would say grace before we all would dig in. I find that same sense of rootedness and community in the south that is so connective and true. Maybe one day I’ll find myself living there and give that southern hospitality I know and love.
Back to the pie! The filling recipe came from a blogger friend Laura of Café, Cacau e Canela after one of our late night Instagram DM conversations. In between the discussions of our favorite types of chocolate to the places we wanted to travel to, Laura asked what recipes I was developing at the moment. I explained my attempts at making lemon meringue pie and how I was trying to find a recipe worthy of Grandma Cooley’s standards. Laura told me about the lemon filling she makes in the restaurant she works at. I was intrigued. She shared the recipe and I was ready to bake! To my surprise, the fillings base was sweetened condensed milk chilled in the freezer. I was hesitant. I asked her if the milk would freeze. She assured me that it would not. Weary, I trusted Laura’s word and proceeded to make an amazing filling!
This girl did not lie; this filling was incredible. So simple, yet so delicious. I adapted it a bit by adding some lemon zest just to add an extra layer of lemony goodness. When the weather outside is too hot to handle, it’s nice to have a cold pie waiting for you inside.
Deep Dish Lemon Meringue Cream Pie
Crust recipe from Martha Stewart
Filling recipe from Cafe, Cacau, e Canela
Meringue recipe from Serious Eats
For the crust
2 large egg yolks
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
For the filling
2 14oz cans sweetened condensed milk
Juice of 3 lemons + zest of one lemon
Juice of half an orange
For the Italian Meringue
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 room temperature egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the crust. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of water until combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl or food processor, pulse/stir the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the cubes of butter and process/cut until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the yolk mixture and pulse/stir until the mixture comes together. If the dough is just too dang dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, a minimum of 30 minutes to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with a baking sheet set on a lower oven rack. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Take the dough out the fridge and let stand until pliable. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out slightly thicker than 1/8 inch. Starting at the edge away from you, carefully roll the dough onto the pin (think of a backward fruit-rollup). Roll the dough over the prepared pan and form to fit, making sure to create an even distribution throughout. With a fork, prick holes on top of the crust. Freeze the crust for 15-minutes.
Line the crust with a double layer of aluminum foil, making sure the foil is all the way to the edges of the bottom of the pan. Fill the foil with pie weights or dried beans and evenly distribute them. Move the baking sheet to the middle oven rack and set the pie on top. Reduce the oven temperature to 400. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and transfer the foil and beans aside. Return the pie to the baking sheet in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the entire crust is golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
For the filling. The night before, open the two cans of sweetened condensed milk and place them in the freezer. Once the condensed milk is completely chilled, add them to a medium size mixing bowl. Squeeze in the lemon and orange juices then add in the zest. Stir to combine. Transfer to the cool pie crust and cover in the fridge while you’re making the meringue.
For the Italian meringue. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over high heat, brushing down the sides of the pan when necessary with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cook until the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes if using a stand mixer.
To make room temperature eggs: Place the eggs in a large liquid measuring cup. Fill the cup with lukewarm water and allow the eggs to sit for 15-20 minutes. Using room temperature eggs will allow for an easier and faster meringue.
With the mixer running or while whisking, slowly drizzle in hot sugar syrup. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue mixer over chilled pie. Place in the oven on broil and toast meringue until the top is a light golden brown. Remove pie from oven and serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve.