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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Matthew said...

Also, thx to Sean and Sara for filling in on photo duties for most of this shoot with their wonderful skills! Miss you guys! xoxo

sara said...

I wish we could too!! This pie was crazy delicious (refreshing and springy during an exceptionally hot week in LA) and the perfect disorder of making it while simultaneously catching up and wrangling two babies was a highlight of our trip. xoxo!

lectric lady said...

Note: This is a gluten-free pie! A great alternative for family/friends who have gluten issues. And. Want.Pie.

Dani Elis said...

um... Yum.

This is definitely going on my 'to cook' list!

Mary Anne said...

So fun! Wish I could have been there to crash your party and eaten that pie!

Mary Anne said...

p.s that Martha Stewart thing looks nastay

jen said...

This looks perfect. I love the casual messiness of it. No more worries about meringue separating on top and having to be perfectly piped!

Monika Jones said...

This looks so delicious! I have to give it a try!
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Claire Backner said...

Hi Amelia, I have a question about the shrimp scallion pancakes that you made recently. I would like to make them for an upcoming dinner party and I was wondering if I would be able to make them in advance and then reheat them in the little oven. Thanks so much.

Amelia Morris said...

Hi Claire! What I would do is pour some drinks, eat some appetizers, and make the pancakes WITH your dinner guests there... If this sounds too stressful than maybe choose another recipe? Long story short, I don't think they're as good reheated.

Fran said...

I made this for Easter dessert and this happened. I REALLY hope the link works.