Lemon Meringue Pie, Matching, and Pi Day

Yesterday was Pi Day. I made a pie. And I matched at a residency program, though I don’t know which one, as did many fourth year medical students



. It’s the culmination of our medical school work, deciding what field we want to pursue, putting together an application, going through interviews, setting a rank list, and hitting the submit button. On Friday we’ll find out to what residency program we matched to. Across the country we’ll all find out, more or less, at the same time. It’s an incredible group experience that I share not only with my friends, but also with people across the country I have never met, and with people in my life who have gone through this matching process in the past. It’s incredible.

I can say confidently now that I am going to be in a residency program in medicine for one year, and anesthesia for another three years. Yesterday I found out that I’m (probably) going to be an anesthesiologist and I ate pie with my friends– yes, it was a good day. Lemon meringue pie was certainly the best way to celebrate, and it’s quite quick to make.

It’s a dessert that consists of a sweet crust pastry base, lemon curd in the middle, and pillows of tasty, tasty meringue on top, browned to perfection. The earliest recorded making of this delicious treat is from a 19th century swiss baker when meringue became more common as a dessert item. It’s a classic recipe, and one that is fantastic to have in your back pocket.

Baking hacks: Make the lemon curd in the microwave, buy pre-made pie crust (you can do it, it’s okay), and finally, not a hack, but please use cream of tartar or some other acid when whipping your egg whites to prevent them from weeping, you’ll have prettier peaks because of it.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Modified from the ever wonderful, Joy of Baking

Sweet Pie Crust

1 egg, beaten
0.5 cup butter, room temperature
0.25 cup white sugar
1.5 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Lemon Curd
3 eggs
0.5 cup white sugar
0.33 cups lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
lemon zest from those lemons (zest before you juice them, it’s easier)
0.5 cup butter, room temperature, cubed

4 egg whites only
0.5 tsp cream of tartar
0.5 cup white granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Whip the butter and sugar together. Mix beaten egg and vanilla together in a separate container. Sift flour in a separate bowl. Add the egg-vanilla mixture to the butter, and mix until just combined and lump. Then add the flour in four parts. Don’t overmix or it will become crumbly. Then plop the dough on some plastic wrap, flatten into a disk and put in the fridge for 1-2 hours or the freezer for 30 minutes.

Then roll it out on a floured surface (well-floured, you don’t want it to stick or tear). Then roll it onto your rolling pin and and place it into your tart pan (8-9 inches) or pie pan. Press it into the pan and use extra dough to fill in any spots that aren’t full. Then place aluminum foil over top, and some pie weights (i.e. dried pinto beans) on top to prevent any bubbles from coming up and messing up your structure. Pull out after 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. In a double boiler, or an aluminum/pyrex bowl placed over simmering water, mix eggs, sugar, and lemon juice, and whisk together. Keep whisking until it thickens, for about 10 minutes. Then pass through a strainer, add cubed butter and lemon zest. Mix well until melted. Pour the lemon curd into the still hot pie crust, place in the oven at 350F and bake for 10 minutes.

Then make the meringue. In a clean, dry mixing bowl/stand mixer bowl add the four egg white and beat well until a little frothy. Then add in the cream of tartar and whisk until a bit more frothy. Add the sugar in about 1-2 tablespoons at a time, all the while making sure to beat quickly. You should see stiff peaks start to form. A peak is “stiff” when you lift the stand mixer arm up, or your whisk up and a meringue peak forms that stands up on its own.

Putting it all together. Pull the tart/pie out of the oven, and spoon the meringue on the still hot curd starting from the outside, then in. Use the back of the spoon to spread the meringue, and make a pretty/typical swirl pattern. Put in the oven, bake for 10-15 minutes, or until meringue has reached the desired level of browning. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool. Enjoy warm or cold. Will last in fridge for 2-3 days.

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