To give extra kick to her Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie from Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan adds freshly grated ginger to the lime custard filling. Besides that I love lime meringue pies, I was caught by her description of the flavor as being, "big, bright and sassy." How many pies in my lifetime of pie eating have every been declared sassy? Possibly none, sadly. Not only is the pie sassy, but apparently the combination of lime and ginger will give your body the illusion of feeling cool, a good property for a pie to have in this hot, muggy weather. Why use air conditioning when you can eat pie?
Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie
- Yield:makes 1 9-inch pie
- For the Filling
- 1 9-inch graham cracker crust, fully baked and cooled, or a single crust made with Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough, fully baked and cooled
- 1 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 3 limes
- 4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
- 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)
- A 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
- For the Meringue
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups all·purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
- 2 1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
- About 1/4 cup ice water
Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or a food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest into a heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest between your fingertips for few minutes, until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lime is strong. Whisk the eggs, then whisk in the juice, ginger and cornstarch.
Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lime cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As whisk—you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience—depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, getting it to the temperature can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain the cream into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let it cool until it reaches 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high speed (or turn on the processor) and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. After all the butter is in, continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If you find the machine is getting really hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate the cream for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (The cream can be packed airtight and and frozen for up to 2 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)
To Finish the Pie with Meringue
Preheat the broiler.
Whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the pie shell. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.
Working in a clean dry mixer bowl with the clean whisk attachment, or in a large bowl 1ith a hand mixer, whip the egg whites at medium speed until opaque. With the mixer running, add the sugar in a slow stream and continue to beat until the whites are glossy and form firm peaks.
Spread the meringue over the lime filling, swirling it if you'd like. Make sure the meringue comes all the way to the edges of the crust, because it will shrink when it bakes.
Run the pie under the broiler until the meringue is golden and the tips are dark brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, use it to brown the meringue.) Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
- makes a 9-inch crust -
Butter a 9-inch pie plate.
Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the pan and use your fingers to pay an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
Center a rack in the over, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack.
- makes one 9-inch crust -
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of water—all a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If; after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
Gather the dough into a ball, flatten the ball into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)
To Roll Out the Dough: Have a buttered 9-inch pit plate at hand.
You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. (I usually roll this dough out on the floured counter.) If you're working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to lift the paper, plastic or cover frequently so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases.
If you've got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up.
To Make the Crust: Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, but the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2 inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.
To Partially or Fully Bake the Crust: Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pit plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and wights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. To fully bake the crust, bake until golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.