Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

gary’s famous lemon pie

Recipe by
Garrison Wayne
La Quinta, CA

“Gary’s Famous Lemon Pie”....well that’s just downright arrogant isn’t it.......BUT...I have been making and perfecting the “Art” of the Lemon Merengue Pie for nearly 40 years now. My first Lemon Merengue Pie was undoubtedly baked in a shortening crust which I learned how to make from an old Betty Furness Cookbook. I now much prefer the taste of a rich buttery French style crust. This recipe calls for the ease of pressing it in to the pan. The directions are as important as the ingredients in making a Glorious Lemon Merengue Pie. Follow the steps I have set forth and you will be “Famous” too!

yield 8 serving(s)
prep time 20 Min
cook time 1 Hr
method Bake

Ingredients For gary’s famous lemon pie

  • 1 1/3 c
    all purpose flour
  • 3/8 tsp
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 1 stick
    butter, unsalted
  • 1 lg
    egg yolk, beaten plus water to measure a scant 1/4 cup
  • 1 1/4 c
  • 1/4 c
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp
  • 1/8 tsp
  • 2 tsp
    lemon zest, fine
  • 1/3 c
    lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 3/4 c
    water, hot / near boiling
  • 3 lg
    egg yolks, beaten with 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp
  • 2 Tbsp
    butter, unsalted
  • 4 lg
    egg whites, must be room temp
  • 1/2 tsp
    cream of tartar
  • 1 pinch
    salt, just a little
  • 1/3 c

How To Make gary’s famous lemon pie

  • 1
    You will notice that all 3 steps to this pie call for eggs. In advance, set out 4 large eggs to come to room temperature and divide and set aside as follows: 1 egg yolk for the crust, 3 egg yolks for the filling and 4 egg whites for the merengue topping.
  • 2
    To make the crust, place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend well. Add butter, which should be cold and come straight from the fridge. Cut in pats before adding to flour mix. Pulse 20 times (on and off technique). To the one egg yolk that you have set aside, beat first then add water to a scant 1/4 cup measurement (just less). Add the egg/water to the flour/butter mix and pulse 12 times. The mixture will just be coming together and not thoroughly mixed.
  • 3
    Turn the dough out in to a deep dish 9 inch pie plate, distributing the dough evenly. Note: the dough is a bit wet. Without overworking the dough, use your fingertips to press the dough in to the bottom and sides of pan.
  • 4
    Cover the pressed in dough with non-stick foil (non-stick side down). Make sure it is formed to fit closely over the dough. Add some pie weights or dry beans on top of the foil before you place in oven to bake. Weighing down the pie crust keeps it from puffing up and covering with the foil keeps it from browning too fast.
  • 5
    Bake the pie crust as follows: 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove the pie crust to cool on rack for 5 to 10 minutes, while you reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Then remove the foil and beans from atop the crust carefully and place the crust back in the oven uncovered for 5-7 more minutes to dry out some more. Remove from oven and cool on rack while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven temp up to 375 degrees for later.
  • 6
    For the filling, start by beating the 3 egg yolks with the 2 Tbsp water in a medium bowl and set aside close to the stovetop. Measure the 2 Tbsp butter and vanilla and have handy for the last step of the filling.
  • 7
    Place the sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour in a medium saucepan. Stir to mix well. Add the zest and juice and stir with a whisk to prevent any lumps. Add the hot water ( I just heat on high in micro for 2 minutes). Whisk well to mix.
  • 8
    Whisking constantly, heat the syrupy liquid over medium heat until it comes to boil and is thickened.
  • 9
    Remove pan from heat. Ladle about a cupful of hot lemon pudding in to the bowl with the beaten egg yolks and whisk quickly to combine. Add this hot egg mix back to the pan with the remaining lemon pudding and return to the stove. Using an on and off burner technique while whisking aggressively for 1-2 minutes more. The eggs will have cooked and thickened the mixture sufficiently at this point. Remove from heat and add the 2 Tbsp butter and vanilla and stir until butter melts and mixes well. Set aside while you prepare the merengue.
  • 10
    For the merengue, beat the egg whites in a stainless or glass bowl (never plastic) until they are frothy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat on high until still but not dry. At this point, reduce the speed of the mixer and gradually add 1/3 cup sugar.
  • 11
    It’s time to assemble the pie. To the partially cooled crust, pour the filling in to it and spread evenly. It should come up nicely to the top edge but not overflow. Dollop the beaten merengue on top of filling and carefully frost the pie with a non serrated knife or cake decorating knife. Make sure that the merengue comes all the way to the very edges of the crust. This prevents shrinkage.
  • 12
    Place the pie in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn off oven and leave the pie in oven with the door shut for 12 more minutes. At this point the merengue should look perfectly browned. Crack the door of the oven (just a crack) for 25 minutes more then shut the door, leaving the pie in oven for 2 more hours. Leaving the pie in the oven to cool gradually should make for a perfect merengue and prevent excessive bead sweats.
  • 13
    Remove the pie from the oven and set on a rack for about 1-2 hours on the counter before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers and bring to room temp before serving. Note: This pie, as with all cream pies and merengue pies, is at its best the day of baking. Refrigeration will cause some sweat beads on the top of merengue.