My Gymnastics Diary, Part 1

Hi Readers,

Remember when I asked the question, “What is Bon Appétempt?” and said that I wanted to write about gymnastics? Well, that wasn’t an empty threat. Truthfully, I’m feeling pretty weird about posting this here, but whenever I feel this way, I’m almost always reassured by the fact that I’ve definitely posted weirder things here in the past. Point being, thanks for reading part one of what I think will be a three or four part series.


~ ~ ~

March 25th, 2015

I’m on Gymnastike.org (pronounced Gym-nast-eek), which is the website where I get most of my gymnastics information, to find out what is going on in Jesolo, Italy. A competition is set to start there this week. It’s not a big competition, but it marks a big moment in the present-day milieu of elite gymnastics as it’s the first competition in almost three years for 2012 gold-medal winning Olympians Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Put in more familiar terms, Raisman and Douglas competing in this meet is the gymnastics equivalent to that moment in politics when a major politician announces their candidacy for president—only of course instead of running for president, these gymnasts are throwing their hat in the ring for a second Olympic team.

Even if you’re not a gymnastics fan, if you tuned in to any of the 2012 Olympics, these names probably sound familiar. In addition to the team gold, Douglas and Raisman also took home individual gold medals: Douglas in the all-around and Raisman on floor exercise. Raisman won bronze on beam too, making her the most decorated gymnast of the 2012 Games.

But the first headline I see and thus the first one I click on is about Kyla Ross. New Bar Routine for Ross it reads. Ross was also a part of that 2012 gold-medal winning Olympic team, though she was by far its quietest member; she wasn’t expected to qualify for any of the individual competitions and didn’t, nor did her unimpressed face on the medal stand inspire a meme. After the Olympics, she stayed quiet. Unlike her other four teammates, she never went “pro” a.k.a. she never accepted money to endorse products, and she also never really took any time off from training. This means that her bar routine has basically been the same for a number of years now. (That is how gymnastics works: you learn skills, you learn how to connect them in a routine, and then you do that routine everyday for the rest of your young life so that by the time you compete the routine, you can perform it sans thinking.) In other words, a headline like New Bar Routine for Ross is total click-bait for someone like me.

Only, when I click on the video, I am denied access because I’m not a gold member of the site. To be a gold member, you have to pay money, about $20/month.

I’d been resisting becoming a gold member for a couple of years now, but after a few minutes of online research, I realize that Gymnastike has purchased the rights to the Jesolo meet and if I don’t become a gold member, not only will I not be able to see Kyla’s new bar routine, but I also won’t be able to see a moment of Aly and Gabby’s first competition back.

The last time the United States saw back-to-back Olympians in women’s gymnastics was in 2000, which may not seem that long ago. However, back then completely different rules applied. In 2000, seven women comprised an Olympic team. Remember 1996’s gold-medal-winning “Magnificent Seven”? Well, today teams are down to just five members. Thus, 2012’s “Fierce Five.”*

Plus, in 1997, the International Gymnastics Federation or F.I.G., which is the sport's international governing body, ruled to change the minimum age for senior international competition to 16 instead of 15. (In the 1980s, the minimum had been 14.) This minimum age requirement is key because even if you’ve never caught a moment of a gymnastics competition, you probably still know that it’s a sport lousy with teenagers. Remember Nadia Comaneci? She was just 14 when she won the Olympic all-around title in 1976. If today’s rules had applied then, we might not even know her name.

As another example: in 2008, U.S. gymnast Nastia Liukin won the Olympic all-around competition at the age of 18. She had so many world and national titles under her belt by that advanced age; who knows what would have happened if she’d been allowed to compete as a 14-year-old in 2004?

To put things even further into perspective: of the six women who comprised the 2008 U.S. silver-medal-winning Olympic team, five attempted comebacks with the goal of making the 2012 team (one of whom was a 22-year-old Nastia Liukin). None of them made it.

All of this information begs the same high-pitched question: who do Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and Kyla Ross think they are? Trying to make back-to-back U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams is like trying to get your foot in the door as some sort of highly-specialized sports journalist by writing about gymnastics on your food blog. It’s simply not done.

Or is it?
~ ~ ~

Within a few more minutes, I’ve become a gold member and am watching Kyla’s new bar routine. To be clear, what I’m watching isn’t the actual competition. It’s called podium training, which is the training (on a raised surface/podium) at the competition venue in preparation for the meet.

Within another minute, I’m watching Aly’s new bar routine. And then Gabby’s. I move quickly from video to video, event to event. It’s thrilling. Aly seems just like her old self again on just about every event except vault where she is performing a double-twisting Yurchenko instead of the two-and-a-half she competed in London. Gabby, in my opinion, isn’t quite as far along. Don’t get me wrong. She looks good and she has most of her old skills back, but this is the problem with being the reigning all-around Olympic champion: I expect more from her.

To be honest, I’m a little worried for Gabby. I mean, as worried as one can feel for a total teenaged stranger. Last summer, she left her longtime coach, Chow, for a second time. This time, seemingly for good. Chow was the one who had coached her (as well as 2008 Olympian Shawn Johnson) to Olympic gold, and now she was training with a relatively unknown gym in Ohio. Plus, she seemed distracted (a pejorative in most cases but particularly in the sport of gymnastics). There had already been a Lifetime movie about her, and now, an Oxygen reality show co-produced by herself and her mother, was to debut later this year.

I don’t seem to be the only one worried about Gabby. In some of the podium training videos, Marta Karolyi—whose official title is National Team Coordinator for USA Gymnastics but whose unofficial title could be something like “U.S.A. Gymnastics’ All-Knowing Supreme Leader”—can be seen and/or heard loudly coach-cheering for her.

In one beam set in particular, we can see Gabby’s new coach standing front and center watching her, but all the coaching—at least what I can hear—is coming from Marta offscreen. Through the entire routine, she doesn’t let up; her commands range from “Trust it!” to “C’mon!” to “Goooood, Gabby!” It’s noteworthy for a few reasons.

One: Marta has always come across to me as cold and unfeeling. But that’s decidedly not the tone of her coaching here. (To be fair, I think she has to maintain some degree of coldness. I mean, part of her job is choosing which gymnasts to take to which major competitions, including of course the Olympics. Therefore, she is also effectively in charge of choosing which young woman’s dream to fulfill and which to trample on.)

But here, there’s definitely warmth, or rather: a sense of a parent seizing on an opportunity to praise the child of hers that needs it the most.

Secondly: while it would make sense for Marta to have a deeper relationship with those gymnasts she’s already gone to an Olympics with, during Aly’s beam set, we don’t hear a single thickly Romanian-accented peep from Marta.

What I do notice during Aly’s beam set is her longtime coach, Mihai Brestyan. I always notice him. With his thick build, black tracksuit, cropped gray hair, and lack of a smile, he beams a half-fatherly and half-mob-boss brand of self-assuredness. If I were to put my gymnastics fate in anyone’s hands, it would be his.
Raisman and her coach, Mihai Brestyan, at the 2012 Olympics
Prior to making the 2012 Olympic team, Aly participated in a documentary called “Quest for Gold.” A portion of it focused on her grueling schedule. We watch as she goes through an average training day. It’s exhausting. At one point during the end, while she works a portion of her bar routine she's fighting back tears. Mihai seems less than sympathetic throughout. He says with his own thick Romanian accent (so thick in fact that his words are subtitled): “Nobody needs to see how tired are you. Nobody cares.”

But then, at the end of the practice, we see Aly sitting on the floor and Mihai talking to her. He tells her, “Rest tomorrow. Get a massage if you can get. Get a Jacuzzi if you can get. Relax. Okay?” And then, his voice changes in pitch ever so slightly—from that of a coach to that of a friend. “Okay,” he says.

In a more recent interview, Mihai is asked about Aly’s initial return to the gym after her yearlong post-Olympic sabbatical.

“I told her you need to choose the way you come back,” he says. “We coming back from the gymnastics or we coming back just for the fame? Again. Because I’m not interested just for the pictures.”

I like Mihai.

And back in Jesolo, I like how unimpressed he is. Aly just about stuck one of the hardest beam dismounts in the sport—a double Arabian—and his nod of approval holds less enthusiasm than the nod I use to show my husband I’m listening to his work-related story as I chop vegetables for that night’s dinner.

Of course, what do I expect? For him to Bela-Karolyi her off the mat in a frenzy of seemingly uncontainable pomp and joy? No. But sort of. I mean, she’s doing it. She’s really doing it. Though it’s an international meet and Marta actually left a couple of our better gymnasts back at home, the top five all-around spots are still filled by Americans. Aly ends up in third place behind 18-year-old Simone Biles, the reigning World Champion, and 16-year-old Bailie Key, a previous U.S. junior national champion competing as a senior for the first time. Gabby places fourth. And Kyla, because of some very uncharacteristic mistakes on floor, ends up tenth.

In her post-meet interview, Kyla addresses these mistakes with a smile. She knows it’s not like her. (It really isn’t.) There’s a lot of talk of going back to the gym and hopefully doing better next time.

In Gabby and Aly’s post-meet interviews, each is asked: “And what are you looking forward to next?” They are in Italy after all. Maybe they’re going to go tour the city and eat some gelato.

“I’m looking forward to just more improvements and upgrades,” says Gabby smiling.

And as for Aly? “Well, we have training camp in a couple of weeks, so, uhm, getting more flexible and cleaning up everything. I know I have a lot of work to do.”

And as for me? Well, I’m definitely looking forward to more improvements and upgrades—both theirs and my own.

(If Marta was forced to coach me, she would probably throw her hands up in the air and say something to the effect of, “You’ve gotta be f*cking kidding me with this sh*t.”)

The next major competition is the U.S. National Championships, which is in mid August. Marta (and the other two bodies that make up the Selection Committee) will use the results of this competition to help decide who will make the five-person 2015 World Championship team. And while of course making the World team the year before the Olympics doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the Olympic team, if history is any lesson, if you are a woman gymnast who would like to go to the Olympics in 2016, you really want to be on that 2015 World team.

I can’t wait to follow along.

* Remarkably (and in my opinion, insanely), in a decision that came in while I was finishing up this piece, F.I.G. ruled to reduce the size of Olympic gymnastics teams even further, down to a mere four members, starting with the 2020 Games.
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Video: Vanilla Celebration Cake

This is seriously the most amazing cake. It baked so evenly and so well and was remarkably easy to cut into three separate layers. It also traveled well. (Rumor has it that it tasted good too.) I'll definitely make it again and again.

Vanilla Cake via Jane Hornby's What to Bake and How to Bake It
NOTE: This is just the recipe for the cake part of Hornby's Vanilla Celebration Cake. You can frost it with one of your favorite frosting recipes, though I encourage you to seek out a copy of this book to read Hornby's full recipe! The book comes with so many baking tips and is generally pretty great. 

For the cake:
6 eggs, room temperature
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) soft butter, plus extra for greasing
1 3/4 cups sugar, ideally superfine
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Double-line a 9-inch springform or regular deep round cake pan. (Hornby says that double-lining with parchment protects a cake that's going to be baked for a long time, like this one is.)

Separate 3 of the eggs and add the whites to 3 whole eggs. (FYI: You won't need the other 3 yolks in this recipe.) (Maybe you can find a use for them? I never can.)

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla together until very creamy and pale. Pour 1 egg white or egg into the bowl, then beat in until fluffy and light. Repeat until all the egg has been used. If the batter starts to look a bit lumpy at any point, beat in 1 tablespoon of the flour.

Mix the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt together in a bowl. Sift half of this into the cake batter, fold it in, then fold in the buttermilk. Follow with the rest of the flour mixture to make a smooth and fairly thick batter.

Spoon the batter into the pan and level the top. Make a slight dip in the center, which will encourage the cake to rise without a dome. (Dude, this totally worked!)

Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until it has risen well and is golden, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Check carefully, as the cake may sink or seem heavy if underdone. In the meantime, make the syrup: gently heat the sugar, 3 tablespoons water, and vanilla until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Once out of the oven let the cake cool in the pan until just warm, then poke 25 holes right through it. Slowly spoon the syrup over it, letting it soak in after each addition. Let cool completely in the pan. (It can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month!)
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Braised Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Porcini, and Dried Cherries

Just popping in here to share this recipe as well as the pretty photos Matt took of said recipe. 
Oh and also to show you my brand new bespoke apron. See, a blog reader named Claire, who I met at my reading at Skylight Books, makes aprons. Long story short, they're pretty cool and I commissioned her to make me one. Just a simple, classic linen apron is what I asked for, but she gave it a piece of flair. Point being, thank you, Claire! I love it.
This was the first recipe I've encountered in what seems like a long time that made me want to cook in the old-school, full-of-curiosity kind of way I used to experience much more often. And then, even more refreshingly, I actually enjoyed cooking it! We had a rare, gray and gloomy Saturday here (It even rained!) and I'm pretty sure that this helped set the tone for some braised chicken in sour cream and simmering whole cloves of garlic in water to make a broth. (Who the ef knew about garlic broth? I certainly didn't.)
One note: even though it's basically a one-pot dish, I wished we'd had some baguette slices on hand to accompany the rich sauce.  
OK, that's all for now. Thanks for all of your kind words re: the last post. I am applying to a job that sounds promising and writing something I'm excited about, and in general, not feeling quite so meek.

p.s. I got this recipe from Food and Wine's May issue, which I found to be chock-full of inspiring recipes. In short: consider me a new subscriber! Speaking of subscriptions, can someone please tell my mom to cancel her gift subscription to me of Bon Appétit? I've asked her a few times now, but the issues just keep coming! (Or maybe putting her on blast like this will get her to finally cancel? Thanks, MOM!)

Braised Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Porcini, and Dried Cherries via Food and Wine
serves 4

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
11 large garlic cloves, 8 whole and 3 crushed
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms (1/2 ounce)
Kosher salt
2 pounds large chicken thighs
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/2 cup unsweetened dried sour cherries (about 2 ounces)

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the whole garlic cloves and cook over low heat, stirring, until golden and fragrant, 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until reduced to 
2 cups, about 1 hour. Strain the garlic broth into a bowl.

In another bowl, whisk 1 cup of the garlic broth with the sour cream and porcini and season with salt; reserve the remaining garlic broth for another use.

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season the chicken with salt and cook over moderate heat until golden all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in the skillet. Arrange the potato slices in the pan, overlapping them slightly. Set the chicken skin side down on top of the potatoes. Scatter the cherries and crushed garlic around the chicken and pour the garlic sauce with porcini on top. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300° and roast for about 45 minutes longer, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

Preheat the broiler and arrange the rack 6 inches from the heat. Turn the chicken skin side up and broil until 
the skin is golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Serve.
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Not Raspberry, Not Lemon, and Not Heart-Shaped Cakes

2015 version
2009 version
Bon Appétit's 2009 version
A while ago now, a friend requested that I re-attempt these raspberry-lemon heart cakes. She didn’t care about the actual heart cakes; she was requesting an updated “my version” photo—one that would show me baking in the kitchen with Teddy on my hip instead of the stuffed koala bear I used as a prop six years ago. Well, as you can see, we delivered on the request! 

It’s a little ironic actually. See, I’ve been writing something. I don’t know exactly what it is yet—an essay, a blog post, a typed journal entry that I will share with no one? I’m going to keep working on it but the theme that is emerging is definitely about how I feel like I’ve time-traveled back to 2009, like I’m starting from scratch all over again. (I think up until last week, I’d been waiting for my old life, my pre-Teddy life, to return and I think now that he’s 15-months old, I’ve finally given up on that ever happening.)


I’ve always looked at writing as a form of therapy. There’s a Virginia Woolf line about this in her unfinished memoir. She wrote, “It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me.” Writing my book was definitely a healing experience. I got to tell my story. And though I knew that once it was out in the world it was going to have a life of its own, I don’t think I really thought that phenomenon fully through.

Last month, a reader of the blog and fellow Angeleno asked me if I might come to her book-club meeting where she and her friends were set to discuss my book. It sounded sort of scary but mostly fun, so I agreed. I don’t know what I expected exactly, but it ended up being a pretty amazing experience.
See, I arrived at the book club after having had a tough couple of weeks. (There’s more on this in that long-form piece I’m writing.) The word that keeps coming to the surface to describe how I’ve felt is meek. So, I arrived at the book club feeling meek and, bonus, vulnerable. Did these women like the book? Did they even read it? Would they treat me like Evan Kleiman did at Bad Food? Who were they anyway?

And I guess since my book is my life story, I think I assumed they would have come to some of the same conclusions about myself that I had of late—that I’m meek, unassured, and, did I mention meek? But as some of the women were talking about my story / my life, I realized that some of them seemed to see it as so much shinier and prettier and, well, better than I did. And it was a shock.

Earlier in the week, Matt sent me a link to Anne Lamott’s recent viral Facebook post in which she offered up some of the wisdom she’s gained in her six decades of life. This was my favorite part: "Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides."

All I can say are two things. 1. Thank you, Ms. Lamott. And 2. Thank you, Carley, for inviting me to your book club where I got a momentary reprieve from comparing my insides to other people’s outsides. It was an experience I hope to not soon forget.

As for these sandwich cakes? I made them one afternoon the previous week while with Teddy, who alternated between happily watching me and unhappily crying when I wouldn’t let him touch the mixer as it spun; Matt came home from work just in time to take a few photos.

It’s funny how outdated the recipe felt even though it’s only six-years old. It’s just so simple and straightforward. The cake itself doesn’t call for any weird flours. And the filling they recommend is a combination of store-bought jam and store-bought lemon curd, neither of which sounded very appealing to me. Instead, I opted for store-bought coconut jam, which was perfect. (If you have the time and desire, you might simmer a can of sweetened condensed milk in order to make dulce de leche and then use that as the filling.) Either way, this isn’t a life-changing dessert. It's the kind of treat best eaten in the afternoon around 3pm, as a pick-me-up. Or they’re something to make and serve at a kid-friendly party.

Speaking of pick-me-ups, in case the Anne Lamott link wasn’t enough, here’s a poem I came across that felt perfect for right now.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, how about this string of text messages I got from my mom?
(Phone kinda did let her say it in the end though.)
OK, on that note, I’m out. Talk to you guys soon! xoxo

p.s. In case I haven’t made it clear: I accept your recipe requests! Email me or leave them in a comment.
Not Raspberry, Not Lemon, and Not Heart-Shaped Cakes slightly adapted from Bon Appétit

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, warm
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
store-bought coconut jam (or something else you think might be good sandwiched in between vanilla cake)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy 18x12x1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until very pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter, then milk. Fold in flour mixture, then beat just until blended, about 30 seconds. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking sheet. 

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and cake begins to color on top, 26 to 28 minutes. Cool cake completely on baking sheet on rack. 

Using a cookie cutter in the shape of your choosing, cut out 8 pieces (reserve leftover cake scraps for something?). Spread a thick layer of jam over top of 1 piece of cake; top with the other piece of cake. Repeat with remaining cake pieces and jam. Sprinkle each with powdered sugar.
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Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Pie

My friends Sara and Sean are the original grown-ups. If you've read my book (thank you!), their names are probably familiar to you. It was their grown-up house (where Matt and I regularly housesat) which included a grown-up kitchen, which encouraged me to believe that I could make a giant layer cake from scratch, which I did, sort of, which of course became the whole reason I started this blog. But that wasn't all that happened in that kitchen. Sara and Sean hosted countless delicious meals over the years, from steamed lobster tails to homemade pasta. And there was a tight-knit group of us who met there regularly to eat everything they offered up. 

But a few years ago, Sara and Sean (sadly) (for us) packed up their things, including their two little boys, and moved to the east coast. It was the end of an era.
Photo by Sean
Two years ago, when I was just barely pregnant and had hardly told anyone about it apart from immediate family, their whole family came to LA for a visit. This time it was Matt and me who played host. My mom was here, and she and I made that squid ink paella. Well, about a month after that visit, Sara sent me a photo text of an ultrasound; she was pregnant with baby number three! (Note: This was before I had Teddy and thus, before I realized the strong pull some of us feel to keep procreating despite the madness of it all and therefore, I was super surprised at Sara's news.) 
Photo by Sara
Photo by Sara
Two weeks ago, Sara and Sean came back to town for a visit! Obviously, we were going to get all the kids together, but we also wanted to make/bake something. I pitched Sara a few ideas, one of which was this classically weird/beautiful/difficult Martha Stewart recipe/craft for challah bread in which you stuff red-dyed hard-boiled eggs. But for some odd reason (wink), Sara chose this delicious-sounding (but light?) lemon meringue pie instead. 
Photo by Sara
Photo by Sara
Ah, to be in the kitchen with an old friend while our two one-year-olds played around together (the words played and together being vaguely accurate). It was more than fun. It was comforting, kind of like how rewatching Lost in Translation is comforting.

And of course, bonus, the following day (as the pie needs at least 8 hours in the refrigerator) there was pie. Our old group of friends plus our offspring all met up (at the amazing house of some new friends) and ate it together. It was all great. I really, really wish we could do it more often.
Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Pie via Martha Stewart
Unsalted butter, softened, for pie plate
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar

8 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1 cup heavy cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lemon, for serving

For the crust:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees with rack in center. Lightly brush a 9-inch pie plate with butter. Whisk together egg whites and 1 tablespoon cold water with a mixer on high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and beat until thick, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Transfer egg-white mixture to prepared pie plate; spread along bottom and up sides to form crust. (Don't spread past rim of pan.) Bake meringue until crisp and light golden on outside, about 40 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool in oven 1 hour, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the filling: 
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a medium saucepan (off heat) until thickened and pale yellow, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in sugar and lemon zest and juice. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is very thick, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface of curd. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Whisk curd until smooth. Whip cream with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds. Working in batches, gently fold whipped cream into curd. Fill meringue crust with lightened curd; smooth top. Refrigerate, loosely covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

For the topping: 
Whip cream and sugar with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 40 seconds. Spread over pie. Finely grate lemon zest over top. Slice with a chef's knife, wiping blade between cuts, and serve.
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