This recipe is from my trusty Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, Golden Press, 1983.
For the Crust (8″ or 9″):
Preheat oven to 475 F (245 C)
1/3 cup + 1 Tbl shortening (I use Crisco in the U.S. – nothing gives a flakier
crust. Sorry, but it’s true. In Italy I use butter, which is good but doesn’t make as delicate a crust.)
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 Tbl cold water (I almost always use about twice this amount)
Using two knives or a pastry cutter cut the shortening into the flour until clumps about the size of peas form. Add the water and toss around with a fork – I always end up kneading lightly with my hands to form a dough ball.
Form a ball and flatten it on a well-floured rolling surface (your choice: marble, wood, or good old waxed paper). Sprinkle liberally with flour and roll out into a circle that will fit your pie pan. Carefully fold in half, then half again – this makes it easy to pick up and put in the pie pan. Place the dough carefully in the pan, then unfold it and press it gently against the bottom and sides of the pan.
Roll over the excess dough along the top of the pie plate to form a nice edge. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork – lots of pricks. If you want to be very fussy you can put some tin foil on the bottom of the pan and put beans, glass beads, pebbles or any other light weight on top to keep the bottom of the crust from puffing up when you bake it. I don’t bother.
Bake the crust until it’s light brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. If you have put weights on the bottom, remove them after the first 5 minutes of baking.
Turn the oven down to 400 F (200 C) and set the crust aside to cool while you make:
The Lemon Filling (enough for a 9″ pie)
1 1/2 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup + 1 Tbl corn starch (if that’s not available, substitute 4.5 Tbl all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 Cup water
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 Tbl butter
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice (bottled acceptable if you can’t squeeze fresh)
Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan. Stir in the water slowly and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir for 1 minute.
Stir at least half the hot mixture slowly into the egg yolks whisking like mad as you do. Then blend this back into the hot mix in the sauce pan, whisking all the while. Boil and stir for 1 more minute, then remove from heat.
Stir in the butter, lemon peel and lemon juice and pour it all into the pie crust.
Now on to the
3 Egg whites
6 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat the egg whites until quite foamy and starting to grow in volume. While beating, gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 Tbl at a time. Continue beating until the whites are very stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.
Spoon the meringue onto the hot pie filling and spread it all over. Be sure to seal the meringue well to the pie crust. Make decorative mountains and valleys in your meringue and pop into the 400 F oven for about 10 minutes (frequently less for me) – until the meringue is a pleasant shade of brown.