Meringue Pies and Tarts

Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
Luscious Lemon Meringue Pie RecipeMeringue pies and tarts are simply cream or chiffon pies covered with meringue, often called Icebox pies. The meringue should be spread to cover all parts of the crust edge so it will not and placed on a hot filling, so it will not weep when refrigerated. The meringue is swirled on top and quickly browned in the oven, under a broiler or with a small kitchen torch. An easy way to cut through the meringue is with a lightly greased (oiled) or buttered sharp knife blade.

Characteristics of Standard Meringues:
AppearanceLight brown on ridges
VolumeLofty, billowing
TendernessCuts easily with a fork but holds
shape when lifted; not so tender
that it falls apart
FlavorSweet, mild
well-blended

Some recipes can be easily assembled with a store-bought crust and easy-to-make pudding from a box (shh!..don't tell). Many times a graham cracker crust or a 1-crust pie crust is used.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
QUESTION:
I have a problem with lemon meringue pies. I pre-bake the pie shell then pour my lemon filling into shell and then add the meringue and place in oven to brown the meringue. The bottom becomes soggy within a couple hours and by 4-5 hours the crust bottom seems to be "swimming" in a watery liquid "under" the crust. What can I do for this problem?"
SARAH SAYS: The originator of the Lemon Meringue Pie intended that it would be eaten right away; when the pie sits, water collects in the bottom of it, as you have discovered. The water is called weeping and is caused by the egg whites in the meringue denaturing or breaking down over time.

If making an icebox pie and you are using frozen fruit, always thaw and drain it before using. As it thaws in the pie, the fruit will leech water, ruining your recipe.

Dark brown, burned peaks
Overbaked, too much sugar,
peaks too high

Pale
Underbaked,
too low temperature

Beads of liquid on surface
Overbaked
Too low temperature

Shrinks from edges
Not sealed to edge

Sticky, gummy, tough
Overbaked,
Baked at too low temperature

Too tender
Interior not baked long enough
Meringue placed on cold pie filling