To my mind, the only way to make a homemade pie even better is by smothering the top with a thick layer of sweet meringue. Patty Pinner, author of this week's Cook the Book selection, Sweetie Pies, agrees. In the final chapter of her cookbook she draws a parallel between women getting dressed up ("a silk scarf tied ever so nicely, just enough bangles on the arm to send out the right chime, a striking fragrance to draw out the inner beauty") and decorating pies:
"Sometimes all you need are a few lustrous trimmings to help you get your groove back...the same goes for pies. Sometimes you can change the entire appearance and taste of a pie simply by embellishing it with a little meringue top."
Today's recipe is for Daddy's Mother's Blueberry Meringue Pie. A syrupy mixture of blueberries, lemon, and cinnamon is poured into a flaky pie crust, dotted with butter, and briefly baked before being covered with a thick cloud of sugary meringue. Could there be a more perfect summer dessert? I don't think so.
- For the crust
- One 9-inch single Flaky Pie Crust, rolled out, fitted into a pie plate, edge trimmed and crimped, and partially prebaked (see note below)
- For the filling
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
- 4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- For the meringue
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare the pie crust and partially prebake. Set aside on a wire rack.
Make the filling. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon rind in a large bowl. Gently stir in the blueberries and lemon juice until the berries are well coated. Pour the filling into the pie crust, dot with the butter, place in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the meringue. In a medium-sized bowl using an electric mixer, beat together egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form when the beaters are raised. Gradually add the sugar, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until shiny, stiff peaks form when the beaters are raised.
Take the pie out of the oven. Mound the meringue in the center of the pie, then spread it evenly around the edge of the inner crust, sealing the meringue to the crust. Use a spoon to create a design of peaks and valleys all over the meringue. Put the pie back in the oven and bake until the meringue is nicely browned, another 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.
Note: To partially prebake pie crust, fit the crust into the pie plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove crust from refrigerator and line it with parchment or wax paper. Fill crust with pie weights or dried beans and bake at 425°F until the top edges start turning light brown, eight to ten minutes. Take the crust out of the oven and remove the paper and pie weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, return the crust to the oven, and bake until it just starts to turn golden brown, another five minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.