My father's favorite: lemon meringue pie

My father passed away recently. Boy, that line is more difficult to write than I can describe. He was a good guy --one of the best-- and it seems to me that now that he's no longer here, they world has really and truly fallen apart.

When my my mother, siblings, their spouses and our nieces, nephews, their spouses, great-nieces and great-nephews got together to memorialize Dad a couple of days ago we held a lunch in his honor and served only "Dad" foods. My father was a complicated man of simple tastes, so we ate ham sandwiches, chips and pickles. Honestly, it's what he ate for lunch every day and it was fitting send off. For dessert we served his favorite: lemon meringue pie. An appreciation for lemon meringue was not something he and I shared, not by a long shot.

But he was my Dad and I miss him. So in honor of my father, Raymond John Anater, here's how to make a good lemon meringue pie.

Pâte Brisée (American translation: pie dough)


12 tablespoons (170 g) butter, refrigerated until right before you use it
190 grams all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
60 ml very cold water


  1. Cut the butter into pieces of about a tablespoon each.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix for a few seconds, just to combine, then turn off.
  3. Turn the mixer on again at the lowest setting and add the butter pieces, one at a time, to the dry ingredients. Once all the butter's been added, turn the mixer off.  Err on the side of undermixing at this step. You want each butter piece to be coated in flour and slightly bashed by the paddle, but many of the pieces will be barely smaller than when you started.
  4. Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting possible, slowly pour in the very cold water in dribs and drabs. You will not use all of the water and as soon as you see the pastry come together and cling to the paddle you're done. Turn off your mixer. 
  5. Your goal is a very shaggy dough that holds together when squeezed. 
  6. Use your hands to gather the dough into a mass and dump onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to form the dough into a ball, then flatten it into a disc with your hands. 
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using, a longer rest will allow the flour to hydrate more and the pastry will be easier to handle.

Lemon curd

5 room temperature egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue)
320 ml water
200g granulated sugar
40g cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
125 ml fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature


5 room temperature egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
100g granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Start by blind baking your pastry. Roll out your pastry, place it in the pie dish and then put it back in the fridge for at least a half an hour. Cold pastry will shrink less. While you're chilling your rolled out pastry, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Once chilled, poke holes into the bottom with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with pie weights or larger dried beans. Bake for around 15 minutes, or until things begin to brown but aren't fully baked through. This pie is going back into the oven later and it'll finish cooking then. 
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (175°C).
  3. Make the filling: Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside. Whisk the water, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. The mixture will be thin and cloudy, then eventually begin thickening and bubbling after about 6 minutes. Once thickened, give it a whisk and reduce heat to low.
  4. Temper the egg yolks: Very slowly stream a few large spoonfuls of warm lemon mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Then, also in a very slow stream, whisk the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Turn heat back up to medium. Cook until the mixture is thick and big bubbles begin bursting at the surface. See my video above as an example. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the butter. Spread filling into the warm partially baked crust. Set aside as you prepare the meringue. (Don’t let the filling cool down too much as you want a warm filling when you top with the meringue. The warm filling helps seal the two layers together, preventing separation.)
  5. Make the meringue: With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and salt, then continue beating on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form, about 2 more minutes. See the image below to see what soft versus stiff peaks look like. Spread meringue on top of filling. (make decorative peaks with the back of a large spoon.) Make sure you spread the meringue all the way to the edges so that it touches the crust. This helps prevent the meringue from weeping.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the meringue is browned on top. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool at room temperature for 1 hour before placing in the refrigerator to chill. Chill for 4 hours before slicing and serving.


  • Lemon meringue pie tastes best on day it's made because it doesn’t keep very well. No matter how hard you try to prevent it, the meringue will wilt and separate over time.
  • You cannot freeze a pie with this many eggs in it so don't even try.
  • The first and only time I made this for my father, my lemon curd never fully set and I was humiliated. But I learned a few things. First, practice making lemon curd a couple of times before an important event. Second, my father still loved it and I was reminded yet again, that it's my efforts that matter more than my results.
  • A Floridian (my parents lived in Florida) variation that I do love is to substitute the lemon curd with grapefruit curd. Substitute 125 ml fresh pink or red grapefruit juice for the lemon juice in the recipe above.
  • To tell the level of peaks you've achieved when you're whipping egg whites, detach your whisk attachment, dip it into your whipped egg whites, then turn the whisk upside down. Here's chart to show you what to look for: