If anyone knows their way around pie, it's Anna Olson, and her delectable lemon meringue pie is one of her all-time best. Trust us, once you master Anna's recipe, you'll never make it any other way. It's that good.
For the dough:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake and pastry flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
1 egg white, lightly whisked
For the lemon curd filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the meringue:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
Sift the flour, sugar and salt to combine in a bowl or using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cut in the butter by hand with a pastry cutter or on low speed until just small pieces of butter are visible and the mixture as a whole just begins to take on a pale-yellow colour (indicating that the butter has been worked in sufficiently).
Stir the water and lemon juice together and add this to the dough all at once, mixing until the dough just comes together. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap and chill for at least two hours before rolling. Alternatively, the dough can be frozen for up to three months and thawed in the fridge before rolling.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it is in a circle that is just under six millimeters thick. Lightly dust a 22 centimeter pie plate with flour. Press the dough into the pie plate and trim away any excess dough, pinch the edges to create a fluted pattern and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the chilled pie shell with tin foil and fill the foil with dried beans, raw rice or pie weights. Bake the pie shell for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and weights and bake the crust for eight to ten minutes more, until the centre of the pie shell is dry-looking and just starts to brown a little. Immediately, after removing the pie shell from the oven, brush the hot crust with a little of the whisked egg white; this will create a barrier to keep the crust crispy once filled. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
For the filling, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepot, then whisk in the cold water. Have the other ingredients measured and nearby. Bring the sugar mixture up to a full simmer over medium-high heat, whisking as it cooks, until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Pour about a cup of this thickened filling into the egg yolks while whisking, then return this to the pot and whisk just one minute more. Whisk in the lemon juice and cook until the filling just returns to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter then immediately pour the hot filling into the cooled pie shell (the filling will seem very fluid, but it will set up once chilled). Cover the surface of the filling with plastic wrap to keep it hot. Immediately prepare the meringue topping.
Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy, then increase the speed to high and gradually pour in the granulated sugar and icing sugar and continue whipping just until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted.
Remove the plastic wrap from the hot lemon filling, then dollop half of the meringue directly onto the filling (the filling will still be very soft, so work gently). Be sure to spread the meringue so that it completely covers the lemon filling and connects with the outside crust, then use a bamboo skewer or paring knife to swirl the meringue just a touch (this will secure it to the lemon curd). Dollop the remaining meringue onto the pie and use the back of your spatula to lift up the meringue and creates spikes. Bake the pie for about 20 minutes at 325°F, until the meringue is nicely browned. Cool the meringue completely to room temperature before chilling for at least four hours.