In retrospect, I should have just used my grandmother’s trusted family recipe for lemon meringue pie. It works, it’s delicious, and there’s no roll of the dice involved. Instead, I used Martha’s recipe from September Martha Stewart Everyday Food. For a dinner with my in-laws. Oh dear.
It started innocently enough. I bought refrigerated pie crust. I know, it’s not Martha, but I was under a time crunch as well as some health issues, so I needed to simplify.
This lemon meringue pie recipe is part of an entire section of recipes predicated on a lemon curd recipe. I get the concept of this (three desserts based on one basic recipe), but it was really quite annoying to flip back and forth between two pages to make this (“follow the recipe on page XX up to step one, then add X, Y and Z and then continue with the recipe”).
This is basically egg yolks, lemon juice, zest, sugar and cornstarch. I think this recipe is written wrong however. You are referred to the lemon curd recipe which says to cook until it coats the back of a spoon. It needs to cook longer and become much thicker in my opinion to become pie filling.
I poured the lemon into the pie crust and refrigerated. Then we packed it in a cooler the next day to take to the lake house. On the way there, it shifted and part of the lemon filling slopped out all over the cooler. This was the first sign I should have abandoned this and just served store bought cookies.
I made the meringue topping and popped it in the oven. It came out looking beautiful, with no hint of the disaster that lay beneath. I went to serve this pie and all the lemon ran out. It did not set up at all. It was a plate of crust, covered in soup with a floating meringue top. It all tasted ok, but it looked awful. Everyone was very nice about it of course and we ate it with spoons, but it was truly an unmitigated disaster. Sigh. I only make dinner for my in-laws once or twice a year and I try to make lovely food they will enjoy. What a disappointment this was.
When my mother had my much younger brother, a good friend of hers decided she should come to our house to make lemon meringue pie for her. My mom and new brother were coming home from the hospital that day. Farron had never made a lemon meringue pie and neither had I. By the time we finished, we had a disaster in the kitchen and no pie to show for it. Suddenly Farron looked at the clock and announced that she had to leave. I was left to clean up the kitchen before the homecoming. I’ll never forget that day, and I haven’t tried to make a lemon meringue pie since!
By the way, my mother makes great lemon and chocolate meringue pies. She always made one of each at the same time.
Great story. Thanks for sharing! Chocolate sounds good I must say.
I have never been able to make a lemon meringue pie that wasn’t soupy. I have great luck with a lemon tart, though, which is also a lemon curd filling but gets baked in the oven for about 15 minutes once it’s in the shell. That always seems to firm it up perfectly. Sorry it was such a disaster. I bet it tasted great though!
The lemon tart sounds really good.
Ditto what Sassy said. I made lemon tart in France all the time. Whenever I tried Lemon Meringue Pie from Joy of Cooking, it was a total failure. Lemon tart, perfect every time. Don’t feel bad! Serve lemon tart instead.
That really is such a shame! I’m glad it tasted good, at least, but goodness. Whatever were their recipe testers thinking?
Hi, this sounds very familiar… When I started going out with my fiance, he took me to meet his parents & decided to impress me with his famous “lemon meringue pie” which the whole family assured me was the best thing in the world and it had never failed… and yes, i nicknamed it “lemon meringue soup”… I ate it with a soup spoon. it was gorgeous flavour-wise. He attempted it 2 more times in our 5 year relationship and I think he’s given up. Poor love! I must bring bad luck!!
It must be a common problem, although my grandmother’s recipe has always worked for me.