Monday, September 2, 2013

What do Ann Landers and lemon meringue pie have in common?

My favorite lemon-meringue pie recipe comes from the legendary advice columnist, Ann Landers.  In 1980 a reader of hers submitted the recipe to her column.  I don't know if I first started making it from that letter or later on but I know I've been using the recipe for a long, long time! 

There are two ingredients in this pie filling that are not commonly found in lemon meringue pie; lemon extract and vinegar. The extract gives it a stronger lemon flavor than using just the lemon juice and the vinegar enhances the tartness of the lemon flavor.  And, no, the pie does not taste vinegary!

The recipe calls for the pudding to be cooked in a double-boiler.  If you don't have a double-boiler, a pan over very low heat, works just as well.  Just watch and stir so as not to burn the filling.

Any meringue recipe will work, of course. There are a few important steps in making meringue.  One, have egg whites at room temperature to obtain greatest volume. Secondly, make sure the sugar is well-incorporated.  After you've beaten to a stiff-peak stage take a "glob" of meringue and rub between two fingers.  If you can still feel the sugar granules, beat some more!  I use ultra-fine sugar for my meringues.  Finally, always put the meringue on the filling while it’s piping hot and make sure it touches the inner edge of crust to seal it all the way around the pie. The hot filling helps cook the meringue from the bottom up and helps keep it from weeping. I usually make my meringue first then have it sitting while I make the filling.

Today is my Dad's 82nd birthday.  He's hard to buy for but has a sweet tooth.  I bought him a 2-pound box of See's candy and made him a pie.  Happy birthday, Dad!

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 baked 9-inch pie shell
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 teaspoons vinegar
3 tablespoons butter
2-3 drops yellow food coloring, optional (I omit)

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in the top of a double-boiler. Add the two cups of water.  In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks with lemon juice and beat until well mixed.  Add to the sugar mixture.  Cook over boiling water until thick, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat; add the lemon extract, butter, vinegar and food coloring, if using, and stir thoroughly. 

Pour mixture into pie shell and cover with meringue, spreading it so it touches inner edge of crust to seal all around (prevents shrinkage) and making decorative swirls. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) 12-15 minutes, or until meringue peaks are golden brown.

Basic Meringue

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla in mixing bowl.  Beat, at medium speed, until mixture is frothy. Add sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until sugar dissolves to help prevent beading (those brown syrup drops on top). Continue to beat until stiff peaks form when you lift the beater.

I like more pie than meringue, if you like a fluffier meringue use 4 eggs whites and increase the sugar to 1/2 cup.


  1. Oh, this looks soooo good. Lemon Meringue is a favorite in this household...

  2. I rarely bake pies but I do love a good Lemon Meringue Pie and this looks amazing. I think I MUST make it. Thanks Julie for sharing this recipe.


  3. This brings back so many good memories of my Mom. This was her specialty, and it was like eating a piece of Heaven. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Oh Happy Birthday to your Dad. The pie sounds devine. Thanks for the recipe. Thanks tons for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty