Lemon Meringue Pie
Impressive doesn’t necessarily mean hard. The curd can be made at least a day ahead, as can the crust. Divide up the work, stay cool, and knock ‘em dead with the presentation. This recipe is from Buxton Hall, one of the Hot 10, America's Best New Restaurants 2016.
- 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Meringue and Assembly
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons plus ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- A candy thermometer; a kitchen torch (optional)
Place butter in a medium bowl set in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Place a fine-mesh sieve over bowl with butter and set aside. Whisk egg yolks in another medium bowl.
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, and 1½ cups cold water in a small saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium-high, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and bubbling, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually whisk about one-third cornstarch mixture into yolks. Whisk yolk mixture back into saucepan; whisk in lemon zest and lemon juice and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is very thick and bubbling gently, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour mixture through sieve into bowl with butter, pressing through with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir until butter is melted and mixture is cold, about 5 minutes. Pour into crust and cover, pressing plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until set, at least 8 hours.
Do Ahead: Filling can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
Whisk sugar, salt, and 1¼ cups flour in a large bowl to combine. Toss butter in dry ingredients to evenly coat. Working quickly and aggressively, use your fingers to rub butter into flour to create large, shaggy pieces of dough (smash the butter into the flour to create some pieces that are flat and thin and some that are large and chunky). Combine vinegar and 3 Tbsp. ice water in a small bowl and drizzle over flour mixture, tossing with a fork to distribute. Knead dough in the bowl until it comes together (it will still look a little dry).
Turn dough out onto a work surface and knead 1 or 2 more times, pressing to incorporate loose pieces. Press into a ½"-thick disk, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 1 hour.
Let dough sit at room temperature 5 minutes to soften. Roll out on a lightly floured surface, rotating and dusting with more flour as needed to prevent sticking, to a 12" round. Transfer to a 9"-diameter pie dish. Lift up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish. You should have about a 1" overhang. Fold edges under and crimp. Place pie dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and chill in freezer 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly coat a sheet of foil with nonstick spray and place in pie crust, coated side down, pressing into bottom and up sides. Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake until edge of crust is pale golden, 15–20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and pie weights and bake crust until bottom is golden brown all over, 15–20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Do Ahead: Dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month. Pie can be assembled 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Meringue and Assembly
Beat egg whites, vanilla extract, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With motor running, gradually add 3 Tbsp. sugar.
Meanwhile, bring lemon juice, remaining ½ cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals and fit pan with thermometer. Cook, without stirring, until thermometer registers 240°, about 4 minutes.
Immediately remove syrup from heat, reduce mixer speed to medium, and gradually stream syrup into egg whites in the space between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Increase speed to high and beat until sides of bowl feel cool to the touch and meringue is firm and glossy, about 5 minutes.
Transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Remove plastic from surface of pie and pipe meringue decoratively over top. (You can also simply dollop the meringue over the pie and use a spatula to create decorative peaks and swirls.) Toast meringue with a kitchen torch, if desired.