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Mile-High Lemon Pie

This whimsical pie sets the bar high for taste and appearance: It has a zesty lemon filling -- Martha's favorite -- a flaky pate brisee base, and a glossy Swiss meringue crown.

  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10
Mile-High Lemon Pie

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December/January 1994/1995

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Pate Brisee (Pie Dough) Pate Brisee
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 7 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch, and use to line a 9-inch pie tin. Crimp the edges decoratively. Chill until firm. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream to make a glaze. Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork, brush the top edges with the glaze, and line with parchment paper. Weight the shell with pie weights or dried beans, and bake until the edges begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights; continue baking until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes more. Let cool.

  2. To make filling, combine cornstarch, cake flour, salt, and sugar in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add 2 cups cold water. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes.

  3. Remove the pan from heat. Temper egg yolks by beating a small amount of hot mixture into the yolks before adding them to pan. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

  4. Remove the pan from heat, and whisk in the lemon juice and rind. Add the butter one piece at a time. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, and let cool.

  5. Pour the filling into the cooled shell and refrigerate, covered with aluminum foil, until firm, about 1 hour.

  6. To make the meringue, combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heat-proof bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water; beat until warm and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl from heat; whip into stiff peaks.

  7. Spread the meringue over pie so that it touches crust all around. Broil until brown, about 2 minutes, watching constantly. Serve at room temperature.

Reviews (18)

  • Courtney D 28 Nov, 2013

    I followed this recipe to the letter & the filling did not set at all. I did some research to figure out what I did wrong & it appears that I didn't cook it long enough to reach the correct filling consistency. Because I'm a home baker, I rely on detailed instructions & instead of having only cook time listed, more comments on what the consistency of the filling should have been when cooking would have been helpful. Unfortunately I cannot serve this today at Thanksgiving, very disappointing.

  • Gilberto Rocha 12 Nov, 2013

    Ingredients:

    1 cup salted cod fish (boiled, cleaned, and flaked)
    1 cup water
    1 cup flour
    1 egg
    2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    3 stalks celery
    4 fresh seasoning peppers
    1 small hot pepper
    1 sprig of parsley
    1 whole onion
    Salt and black pepper (add only if required when tasted)
    Dash of hot pepper
    Hot vegetable oil for frying
    Garlic Mayonnaise
    12 garlic cloves
    1 cup mayonnaise
    2 Tablespoons ketchup
    Directions:

    Soak about four pieces of salted cod fish in cold water for about an hour. Drain, add fresh water, and boil gently for another hour or until salt fish can be flaked. Clean by removing all skin and bones, and flake out.
    Pour salt fish, flour, water, egg, baking powder, whole peeled onion, celery stalks, de-seeded peppers, and parsley in a mini food processor. Chop for a couple of minutes. Parts of mixture should be identifiable, not pulverized.
    Heat 1 inch of oil in frying pan. Drop fish cake batter by teaspoon into the hot oil, being careful that they do not touch. Fish cakes should puff up nicely with no holes in the batter. (Holes mean the batter is too thin and probably needs a little more flour.) Turn carefully when brown without poking holes in the fish cake. Drain on a paper towel. Serve with garlic mayonnaise sauce.
    Garlic Mayonnaise: Peel the garlic cloves and put in a mini food processor with mayonnaise and ketchup. Blend a couple of minutes to form a grainy texture. Serve fish cakes with the garlic mayonnaise dip.

  • ontariobaker2 4 Nov, 2013

    i followed the recipe to the letter. it turned out perfect! The lemony filling set ,no weeping. the meringue was creamy and mile high. the crust was flaky and crisp. we all loved the flavour. a definite make again !

  • inlovewithmcfloat 2 Aug, 2013

    You can see how simple it is, but once you'll taste it, I'm sure you might even forget your name.

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  • mlwilliams72 29 Aug, 2011

    I just had my first piece of this pie, and I thought it was EXCELLENT! I was a little apprehensive because this is the first lemon meringue pie I have ever attempted -- my husband is more of a lemon pie person than I am. I had no problem with the filling being solid, boiled it until it was the right consistency, and the meringue was spectacular (I did use a teaspoon of cream of tartar). Thank you Martha, you have made my husband very happy. :)

  • mollyews 5 Oct, 2009

    I made this pie yesterday and had no problems getting the filling to set or creating fluffy meringue, my issue was with weeping between the filling and merigue. I did a bunch of research today and see that every article about meringue techniques, including Martha Stewart's, say to prevent weeping you must add the meringue to a HOT filling, not a chilled one. Why does this recipe call for a chilled filling? Very frustrating. I'll be trying the hot method soon.

  • nannerpuddin 27 May, 2009

    Damn you, devil pie!! I love the flavor and the meringue is the best ever! As with most, I was unable to get the filling to set in spite of the hard rolling boil and all that jazz. It's a bummer considering how hard I worked and how much time was spent constructing this pretty puddle.

  • RebeccaHyzer 19 Mar, 2009

    If you don't want a runny pie or meringue, follow these tips: First, try to have all eggs at room temperature. After adding eggs, the filling MUST boil until it reaches 180-degrees F. For the meringue, add a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar to the ingredients before heating and beating. Sprinke a DUSTING of sifted flour or cookie/cracker crumbs over BARELY WARM filling before adding meringue and broil right away. Enjoy a good pie!

  • dee222 21 Dec, 2008

    This pie was delicious! However, as soon as it was cut into, it was noticeably runny. I will definitely try making the pie again, and I wonder if next time I should add a little more corn starch?? Or less water??

  • JustJeanne 23 Nov, 2008

    I've been making this pie since it was first published. nbk33lb's tip about the filling coming to a complete rolling boil is key to it's success. Make it and enjoy!

  • MichiChan 18 Nov, 2008

    Unlike the other reviewers, I didn't like this pie at all. I followed the recipe exactly and after I removed the pie from the oven, it wept uncontrollably all over my counter. Also, the lemon filling itself is honestly the worst I've ever tasted. I am a huge lemon meringue pie fan and have had many different types, but I've NEVER had one with so many egg yolks. To me it tasted terrible and lacked the lemon zing and balance of sweet and tart of typical lemon pies. I had to throw it away.

  • DesireeP 2 Oct, 2008

    Great recipe mine turned out great. A little bit tricky but still great in the end.

  • nbk33lb 12 Sep, 2008

    I just made this recipe, and it turned out fantastic. I noticed a lot of comments that the pie filling didn't set, and I know from my experience with making things like jam that to get a gel to set, you have to bring it to a rolling boil (one that can't be stirred away.) This took me more than the four minutes that was suggested, but other than that I used the same times and it turned out great.

  • mrboyton 4 Apr, 2008

    lemon meringue pie is actually a kind of tricky recipe. My first 2 attempts resulted in lemon soup instead of a pie filling. After some research, the key to getting the filling to set is to cook the egg mixture GENTLY until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees (F). As for the Meringue, it really doesn't do well in the fridge. You'll notice the recipe instructs you to refrigerate the pie BEFORE the meringue is added. Hope this helps

  • not_enough_thyme 24 Mar, 2008

    This was a failure for me. It looked fine when it came out of the oven. I let it cool and then put it in the fringe for a couple hours until dessert time. When I cut the pie, it was all runny inside. I don't know when went wrong, I followed the recipe word by word. I am not sure if broiling for only 2 mins. is enough. The meringue was very runny inside when I cut it then it turned into a pool of meringue and filling. :(

  • lemonmamma 7 Feb, 2008

    We live at a pretty high elevation. Need to extend the cooking time on the filling by quite a bit before adding the eggs. The first time I followed to directions exactly and ended up taking the filling out of the crust and cooking for 6 minutes more in a double boiler to thicken it up. Other than that, yummy pie!

  • mmsrjs 13 Jan, 2008

    THIS IS EVER SO GOOD! DEFINATELY A 'KEEPER' RECIPE. THANKS MARTHA

  • JerzyPeach 15 Nov, 2007

    This has been a family favorite for years. I can really get that meringue up there now too, but it first it was little difficult. I recommend using a copper bowl if you have one. You can really get nice fluffy egg whites with that. But, this is a WINNER

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