Lemon meringue pie, with its finely balanced sweet-sour flavor and creamy custard filling, was one of Nechama Rivlin’s favorite desserts. It’s important not to over-bake the pie dough in this recipe. For the perfect meringue, the egg whites should be at room temperature (remove the eggs from the fridge half an hour before in summer and two hours in winter) before whisking.
7 tablespoons / 100 grams butter, cold and cubed, plus more to grease the tin
1 egg yolk (reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
For the lemon curd:
1 ½ cups water
½ cup lemon juice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
1 ½ tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons / 25 grams butter
For the meringue:
3 egg whites / 90 grams, room temperature
Pinch of salt
½ cup minus 1 tablespoon / 90 grams sugar
Prepare the dough: Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pecans and toast in the dry skillet for 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the pecans give off a nutty aroma. Cool the pecans a bit and transfer them to a food processor. Add the sugar and salt and process the mixture into a fine powder.
Add the flour, lemon zest, and butter into the food processor and pulse a few times until coarse crumbs form. Add the egg yolks and process until the dough just comes together. If the dough is not coming together, add 1 tablespoon of cold water. Transfer the dough onto a clean surface and quickly shape it into a disk. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C, grease and lightly flour the 10-inch / 24-cm pie pan. Transfer the dough from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap and transfer to sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface. Cover the dough with another sheet of parchment paper. Gently roll out the dough to a circle that is 1 ½-inches / 4-cm larger than the diameter of the pie pan.
Remove the top piece of parchment paper from the rolled dough. Gently flip the side of the dough without parchment paper onto the pie pan. Remove the other sheet of parchment paper. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and side edges of the pie pan, especially in the crease that connects the sides and bottom of the pan. Remove any excess dough that is hanging from the top edges of the pie pan. Use a fork to poke holes into the dough on the bottom of the pan. Tightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the freezer. Place a sheet of parchment over the dough in the pan and pour about 1 cup of dry beans or pie weights on top (to prevent the dough from rising). Bake for 15 minutes, remove the beans and parchment paper and bake for another 10 minutes until the dough is fully baked, crispy and lightly golden. Transfer the pan from the oven and let it cool for 5-7 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F / 150°C degrees.
Prepare the lemon curd: Place the cold water, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt and sugar into a small pot and mix well. Cook it over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture thickens and becomes the same texture as mayonnaise.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolks and mix. Add the egg yolk mixture into the pot and add the lemon zest. Mix and stir constantly with a whisk for 3 minutes until the cream is smooth and uniform. Remove from the heat, add butter and mix well until it is emulsified, smooth and uniform. Set aside.
Make the meringue: Place the egg whites and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the mixture for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar while the egg whites are beating at medium-high speed until the meringue is shiny, smooth, and reaches stiff peaks, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag.
Assemble and bake: Pour the lemon curd onto the baked pie crust and smooth it into one layer. Pipe the meringue on top of the lemon cream in a free manner or if you want a more meticulous pattern, pipe the meringue like droplets from the outside edges of the pie to the center. Bake the pie for about 50 minutes or until the top of the meringue is golden brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Transfer into the fridge and cool for 2 hours and up to 8 hours.