This one’s for all the not-perfect pie bakers out there. The ones who struggle with the crust so much that they almost want to give up before they even begin. Hi. I see you.
For my first attempt at pie crust for this pie (there’s almost always a first attempt and a second attempt for me), I used a chunk of frozen pie dough that I had made at a pie-making class a few months ago (yes, I’ve even taken pie classes). I got it pressed into the pan, looking all pretty, and then forgot to dock the crust (i.e. poke it with a fork). When it blind baked (the pre-baking of just the crust before you add the filling), the crust inflated and then deflated, and I was left with a shriveled mess. Sigh.
For my second attempt, I pulled out a roll of store-bought dough, because, ain’t no shame. Keepin’ it real. I got it all pressed into the pan, DOCKED IT, baked it, and it still wanted to shrink on me. It’s 80% good, with 20% of the edge that wanted to disappear down into the pan. For my purposes, 80% was good enough, and I forged ahead.
All of this to say, the crust doesn’t really matter for this pie (gasp). The lemon filling is basic and simple (but delicious). What matters here is the CARDAMOM MERINGUE, guys. If you haven’t tried cardamom before, now’s the time to start. It’s a spice used in Indian cuisine, and it has a complex and exotic flavor (but, you’ll probably be able to find it at any larger grocery store). It’s a warming spice used in both sweet and savory applications. I don’t want to compare it’s flavor to any other spice because honestly, nothing else tastes like cardamom. But the little bit of cardamom in this meringue MAKES this pie.
For the Pie Crust:
- 1 refrigerated pie crust
For the Lemon Filling:
- 3 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Cardamom Meringue:
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Press crust into 9-inch pie plate; fold excess crust under and press together to form thick crust edge; flute with fork. Transfer to oven and bake 12 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Transfer crust to wire rack to cool completely before filling.
- Make the Lemon Filling: In medium bowl, beat egg yolks until smooth. Combine sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan; gradually whisk in water. Heat to boiling over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute or until mixture is very thick, whisking constantly.
- Whisk half of hot sugar mixture into egg yolks, then whisk that mixture back into remaining hot sugar mixture. Heat to boiling over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 2 minutes, whisking constantly; remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, butter, lemon zest and salt. Pour into prepared pie crust. Transfer pie to refrigerator to chill while you make the meringue.
- Make the Cardamom Meringue: In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until foamy. With mixer running, add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all sugar is incorporated. Continue beating until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Beat in cardamom and vanilla.
- Spread meringue over lemon filling. Use kitchen torch to lightly torch meringue. Pie is best served the day it is made; store any leftover pie in refrigerator.
Home Chef Tip: If you don't have a kitchen torch, pie can be baked to toast meringue. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Please note that if baking, meringue needs to be carefully spread to edge of crust to seal filling to prevent shrinking or weeping.