As a cook, is there one dish or technique that you just can’t master? No matter how many times you try, it is always not quite right. For Robyn, it is pie crust. It never turns out the way she would like.
Robyn’s mother was the star pie maker of her family. Any family get together would include a request for her pies. Especially popular was the graham cracker pie. Robyn has no problem with this one. Perfect crust and great meringue. It is that flour crust that alludes her. Her mother worked the mix by hand. She said she knew it was right by the way it felt. Sadly, Robyn’s mother died young and she never got to teach Robyn how it was supposed to feel.
Another great woman entered Robyn’s life. Her mother-in-law soon took her under her wing. She knew a thing or two about pie crust. She once spent the whole day baking various pie crust recipes to find the best one for a custard pie. It did not get soggy. When she heard that Robyn had rolled out her first pie crust with a wine bottle ( A+ for ingenuity, right?), she made sure Robyn had a rolling pin. Add a new recipe that was sure to work and she was set. Still, Robyn could not conquer the crust. Over the years, many more recipes and techniques followed. Finally, Robyn decided that no more often than she made a pie, the store bought refrigerated crust was acceptable.
Robyn says she is forever grateful to the Mothers, Grandmothers, and female friends who answered her call for help. Whether it be cooking or life, all strong women who have and continue to decorate her life with love. And by the way, Happy Mother’s Day!
The favorite pie of Robyn’s husband was lemon meringue. Here is one with a twist and yes, a store bought crust.
Lemon Pie with Blueberry Meringue
One 9 inch pie crust ( store bought or homemade)
4 large egg yolks
1 ¼ cup of sugar, divided
1/3 cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup freeze dried blueberries
1 ¾ cup sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup of water
Make the pie
Follow the directions on the pre-made crust package for a single crust pie. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Whisk in ½ cup of sugar.
In a medium pot, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and remaining sugar. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil; boil for 1 minute.
Gradually pour 1/3 of the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to combine. Return the yolk mixture to the pot ( pour in a slow,steady stream) whisking constantly.
Heat the mixture over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook once large bubbles appear on the surface for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir in the lemon juice and butter, mixing well to combine. Strain the mixture into the cooled pie crust and smooth into an even layer. Bake at 375 degrees F until the filling is just barely set ( it will still look a bit jiggly), 15-17 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
In a blender or food processor, pulse the blueberries until they form a fine powder ( you should end up with about 2 tablespoons blueberry “powder”). Transfer to a medium pot and whisk in the sugar.
Add 2/3 cup of water to the pot and heat over medium heat.
Stir the mixture until it comes to a boil; once it boils, stop stirring. If any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water. Boil the sugar syrup until it reads 230 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the syrup reaches 230 degrees F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at soft peaks when the sugar reaches 240 degrees F.
When the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees F, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, continuing to whip, until it reaches medium peaks, 4-6 minutes more. Spoon the meringue on top of the cooled pie and swoosh with the back of a spoon into an even , centered mound. If desired, you can toast the meringue with a kitchen torch or under the broiler. It is safe to eat un-toasted and it will keep the meringue a prettier color.