Mile-High Lemon Pie

8 to 10 Serves

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.


  • All-purpose flour, for dusting

  • Pate Brisee for Plum Crumb Pie

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

  • cup cornstarch

  • cup sifted cake flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1 ¼ cups sugar

  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  • 7 large egg whites

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  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.

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