In episode 5 of Arcana Famiglia, the cast enjoys a lemon meringue pie (called “limone pie” in the anime) baked by Luca and Felicita. Dante explains that the pies that Luca bakes are so good that they hold their own against those sold in specialty shops…
But, while the majority of the cast simply see the pie as a delicious treat, for Nova, lemon meringue pie is an important reminder of the day that he entered the Arcana Famiglia organization… In a flashback, he remembers meeting Felicita for the first time. Though shy and reserved at first, he begins to open up when Felicita offered him a slice of lemon meringue pie with a sweet smile. Sitting with Felicita, and her parents, Mondo and Sumire, Nova becomes part of the family…
About the recipe:
Lemon meringue pie is always a treat to eat. Those delicate whipped peaks of soft meringue piled high on tart lemon filling inside of a shortbread crust never fails to impress the eyes as well as the taste buds. But, contrary to it’s intimidating appearance, this dessert is actually a breeze to make!
Let’s break the recipe into 3 main parts: Shortbread crust, lemon filling, and meringue. Taking it one step at a time makes this dessert much more simple than it seems… There aren’t any complicated instructions, and you don’t even need a mixer! A good whisk, a microplane (or zester), and a pie plate is all the special equipment you’ll require.
For the crust, crumble the dough around the pie plate, and then press into shape using your fingers. Make sure to go up the sides of the pie plate as well. It only bakes for a little bit in the oven, and when you pull it out, it should be just starting to brown around the edges and quite pale in the center. It’ll be going back in the oven with the lemon filling, so there’s no need to completely bake the crust.
Pricking, or docking, is where you pierce the dough all over using a fork or other similar instrument. Doing this will prevent the crust from forming air pockets and bubbles under its surface while it bakes. Make sure to prick the crust all over, and straight through the dough to the pie plate beneath. The crust will expand just enough to close up all the holes while baking, so no need to worry about the lemon filling seeping through all the pinprick holes.
For the lemon filling, after mixing it together, gently pour it into your pie shell. It’ll be quite liquid, so don’t jostle it too much! When it’s done baking, the filling will have solidified somewhat (it will become more firm as the pie cools), and there will be a delicate white sugar crust on its surface.
Now, you could just serve your pie with a dusting of powdered sugar, but where’s the fun in that?
For the meringue, just whip up your sugar and egg whites to soft peaks. That means, if you were to scoop up some off the whipped eggs with the tip of your whisk and turn your whisk upside down, the peak that is formed is just starting to hold. It’ll be soft, with the tip of the peak folding over, before gradually melting back into itself after a little while.
About the ingredients:
Lemon is the main ingredient in this dessert! Don’t use bottled lemon juice, because it just won’t taste as fresh and bright as the real stuff. Also, you need lemon zest anyways! To zest your lemon, I usually use a microplane and gently go around the lemon until all the yellow peel is gone. Try not to shave off much of the white pith below the yellow outer peel, because it is generally bitter.
The crust uses unsalted butter, but if you don’t have any on hand, salted butter could substitute in a pinch. Leave out the salt if you use salted butter. Also make sure that your butter is at room temperature before you mix it together – cold butter will not mix smoothly into the other crust ingredients.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
For the shortbread crust:
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the lemon layer:
- 3 large whole eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (~ 1 1/2 lemons)
- Zest from 2 lemons
For the meringue:
- 3 egg whites
- 3 tbsp sugar
For the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all the ingredients for the shortbread crust in a bowl. Using the back of a spoon, or your hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until a smooth but slightly crumbly dough is formed.
2. Evenly distribute the dough around a 9 inch pie plate, using your fingers to press the dough into shape, about a 1/4 inch thick. Ensure that the dough goes up the sides of the pie plate. Excess dough can be used to form a scalloped edge for the pie crust.
3. Use a fork and prick all over the surface of the dough. Bake crust for 22 minutes, or until the crust just begins to brown on the edges. The center of the crust should still be pale. Remove from oven and set aside.
For the lemon filling:
1. When the pie crust is out of the oven, whisk together egg yolks, eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Add lemon juice and zest, and continue whisking vigorously for 2-3 minutes, until well incorporated.
2. Gently pour lemon mixture into the pie crust. Place your pie back into your 350 F. oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the filling is set and no longer jiggles when gently shaken. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until completely cool.
For the meringue:
1. When the pie is completely cool, prepare the meringue by whipping sugar and egg whites together until soft peaks form.
2. Use a spoon, spatula, or piping bag to spread the meringue on top of the pie.
3. Use a torch or broiler to brown the surface of the meringue.
Cut into wedges, and serve.
To cut the pie, try warming your knife in hot water. Wipe the knife on a paper towel before cutting. The hot knife will help reduce the amount of meringue and lemon filling that will stick to your knife. Continue dipping and wiping your knife as the pie sticks to the knife.
Be careful if using the broiler for the meringue because it will brown very quickly. Giving the meringue a slightly uneven surface will help the browning process, as well as give the meringue an attractive look. If broiling the meringue, ensure that the egg mixture it is spread evenly across the top of the pie, and not in a tall peak (a low peak may be acceptable, depending on your broiler). This will ensure even browning.
Source: Adapted from Food Wishes