Lemons, sugar and eggs. That's all it takes to make this beyond delicious lemon chiffon pie.
As folks were raving about the pie last week, I couldn't help but show them the mise en place, below.
But, and I do mean BUT, it's not as easy to prepare as it may seem. A friend, upon seeing the picture, asked: So you just mix it all together? Not exactly, and this recipe proves there's no free lunch in baking. Three ingredients might mean easy shopping, but not necessarily easy baking. (But having said that, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks is Recipes 1-2-3, a fabulous three-ingredient cookbook by the brilliant Rozanne Gold, who I was lucky enough to meet when she volunteered as a cake contest judge at Henry Street Settlement in May.)
Now, let's get to work. I promise, it's worth it for this wonderful, light and sweet-tart confection. (The last lemon chiffon pie I made was even more complicated and quite a disaster if you weren't wanting pie soup.)
First the eggs must be separated. Then the lemon zested and juiced.
The yolks are beaten, then the lemon juice, zest and sugar are added, and the mixture combined and placed in a double boiler (or just put the mixing bowl atop a saucepan of simmering water) and cooked until thick, stirring all the while. Meantime, you've beaten the egg whites, adding some sugar to form a meringue. Combine the two mixtures and place in the pie crust you've made and pre-baked. Easy, right?
Below are just a few of the steps, illustrated.
First, the egg yolks, lemon, and sugar on the stovetop.
Cook about ten minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat.
Add the meringue and fold in.
Prepare and pre-bake your pie crust before starting the filling.
Pile the filling in the pie crust.
Watch the oven carefully. It browns quickly, even in a 325 degree oven. Enjoy. This pie really does elicit oohs and aaahs. So much so, you might forget all the work it took to make it!
This recipe, credited to Mrs. Eloise Nicholls, appears in Mrs. Osborn's Cakes of Quality, c. 1919, a copy of which I found at a yard sale in the Adirondacks and prompted me to start this blog. And this pie is truly one of the treasures from the past.
Oh yummy!! I have a lemon tree so for sure I'll be trying this recipe. I like the idea of folding the meringue into the filling.ReplyDelete
A lemon tree! Lucky you. That's the one thing that would get me to move to Los Angeles.Delete
Looks so much nicer to me than a lemon meringue pie-- so the chiffon is the lemon and the meringue in one? Nice!ReplyDelete
AJL: Yes, it is much lighter, almost like air. (But, sadly, with way more calories.)Delete
This is a fantastic recipe, Susan. I am making it sans crust for a gluten-free friend; seems like it would work as a sort of pudding dish, served with some whipped cream. Have recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it immensely! Thanks for all the great recipes!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Terri. I do think it would be terrific as "just" a pudding!Delete
I'm a lemon dessert nut, and this looks delicious. Will definitely make this weekend. About how long did you bake your pie? "Browns quickly"? In your oven, and yes I know they vary, would you say you baked the pie 10 minutes? or more like 20 minutes?ReplyDelete
Barbara in Austin
Barbara -- I put the oven on 325, but next time, I'd go for 300. At first, I didn't have the oven door properly closed, but once I closed it, it seemed like it took just ten minutes! Watch it closely is my bet advice. Good luck!Delete
This recipe was delicious! Thanks! Great site!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for writing, Anonymous, and for making this great pie!Delete
I realize this is a little late, but how much juice exactly did you use?ReplyDelete
It specifies juice of 1 lemon and Ive looked that up to be anywhere between 2- 4 Tablespoons.
I ask because I have a meyer lemon tree and it produces gigantic lemons
with about 3/4 cup juice. I knwo I need to scale back, but how much?
THank you for your help.
I don't recall exactly, but I'm sure I just squeezed one lemon, which yields between two and four tablespoons of liquid depending on the lemon. (But the amount doesn't really matter all that much -- baking is much more forgiving than most realize.) Use a reamer to extract all the juice. Lucky you with a meyer lemon tree! I always try to buy meyers when I see them in the market.Delete
Aren't Meyer lemons entirely different though? They will give a different taste than a "regular" lemon. Probably still delicious, just a thought. And yes, lucky you to have your own tree!Delete
Hi Susan! I'd love to make this pie for Thansgiving but we're traveling, which means I'll have to make my desserts the day before. Is this solely a make-the-day-you're-going-to-eat kind of pie? Or could I make it the day before? Maybe just bake it when I get to the relatives' house?ReplyDelete
Kristina -- I'm not sure, and it might be fine, but if I were you I'd stick with an easy travel pie like pecan, apple or even pumpkin. I had the experience, which I wrote about somewhere on my blog, of leaving my Brooklyn house with a lemon meringue pie and arriving at an Upper West Side apartment with "soup" instead of pie. So I guess I'm more concerned about the transport than the pie being good the next day. I'm sure I had leftovers and they were just fine the next day (though probably not as good as the day-of). Tough decision!Delete
Just found this recipe, and can't wait to try it with Meyer lemons on a snowy night!ReplyDelete
You are so lucky to have access to Meyer lemons! Hope the pie was delicious.Delete
In the oven right now...can't wait to try it.ReplyDelete
So funny, I made this again last night (a reader had emailed me that her's didn't puff up correctly) just to trouble shoot. Mine turned out fine and hope yours does too!Delete
Happy Peaster to you and your family Susan. I was up very early this morning making the pastry for this desert thinking about all the women that came before us and their families, holidays and their recipes. I knew I was on safe ground as I don't usually have difficulty with pastry when disaster happened. I was removing the soybeans that I use to bake blind pastry when the whole thing broke up and landed up-side-down on my stove! Oh darn - well I was determined and started again. What a lovely pie, thanks so much for the recipe.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Merna! And how I feel your pain! And admire your determination to do it again. Always a good idea, but I'm often tempted to just give up and pour myself a consoling glass of wine. Hope the second attempt was a success.Delete
My friend and I made this pie today, and it was very easy and tastes delicious. We tried baking it at 300, as Susan suggested in a previous reply; however, after baking it for 20 minutes, it still wasn't browned, so we bumped the oven. So we bumped it up to 325, and it was beautifully browned in 5 minutes. The only mistake we made was leaving it on the counter after cutting into it. Daisy the Dog had her paws up on the counter and her face in the pie within seconds. So we are giving this pie 2 thumbs and 4 paws up!ReplyDelete
Sorry for the delayed response, Sarah, but so glad the pie worked out for you (and love the four paws up rating!). Oven temperatures are a hard thing to gauge; glad you bumped it up so it could brown. I once left a pastry bag filled with chocolate frosting on my kitchen counter and my toy poodle managed to jump up and get it!Delete
Finally got around to making this pie. . . after salivating just looking at the picture. Really easy and so DE--lish. I did omit one thing. "Prepare and pre-bake your pie crust before starting the filling." I don't know how I didn't see "PRE-BAKE" part. So very crispy around the edges and just a bit soggy in the bottom. But didn't detur me from devouring the whole thing in no time at all.ReplyDelete
And I'm finally getting around to responding to your reply, Kathy. Apologies for the delay. Glad to know that it worked without pre-baking the crust. That sounds like something I would do!Delete
I am so delighted to see that other people are making this! My grandmother used to make a very similar recipe and I spent years trying to get it right after she died. The differences in our recipes are: 3 eggs instead of 4, add 2 T hot water to the lemon curd as it is starting to thicken, only prebake the crust halfway - and use a hotter oven. I'm going to try your version to see what the differences are.ReplyDelete
Challenges and workarounds I've found in my attempts to get this right:
- Sometimes the curd doesn't thicken as quickly as you want it to. I've tried adding a little extra sugar, but really just keep cooking. Your recipe might be better here, since you have an extra egg yolk and no water.
- It is best to cool the lemon curd before mixing it with the meringue. Grandma's recipe says "must be cool" - sometimes if I'm in a hurry, I put it in the freezer to cool. But the need to cool the lemon curd means that you do have time between the steps of pie baking. If you have everything ready, curd cool, pie crust prebaked before a dinner, you can do the final steps just before your main dish comes out of the oven, pop the pie in while everything is being served and set the timer - just pull it out when done and it will be ready for dessert.
- The meringue can be tricky. This was my main reason for pie failures when I was first trying to make my pie as good as Grandma's. Her recipe didn't make it clear when to add the remaining sugar (she knew how to make a meringue!), so I would sometimes put it in too late or make other mistakes. Since I started getting the meringue right, this has been an easy and reliable (and wonderful!) baking project.
Thanks so much for writing, Barbara, and for sharing your tips -- very helpful indeed, especially the advance prep to serve at a dinner party. Please report back if you make the version here.Delete
I am really delighted that other people are making this pie, so very close to one my grandmother used to make! I'm going to try your recipe too, to see if the extra egg makes a positive difference.ReplyDelete
Grandma gave me the recipe and showed me how to make her version, but it took me years to reach her standard. The key was doing the meringue properly. Hints for others who might want to make this - our recipe calls for the lemon curd mixture to be cool before folding into the meringue. I've found that if you're making this as dessert, you can get the first steps ready before starting to prep dinner (pre-bake crust, cool lemon curd), then finish it (fold, fill and bake) later - timing the baking around your convenience.
Thank you for finding this and sharing it with people, I'm so glad that other people get to enjoy a recipe I thought might be lost someday.
Barbara, Chicago suburbs