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Aureole Restaurant's ... Mrs. Palmer's Lemon Meringue Pie

Pastry:
2 C. sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
2/3 C. chilled solid shortening, lard or a combo of shortening and unsalted butter

Filling:
1-1/2 C. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. flour
1/8 t. salt
1 t. grated lemon zest
juice of 2 lemons
3 egg yolks (large eggs)
4 T. unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 t. vanilla extract

Never-fail meringue:
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. cold water
3 egg whites
6 T. superfine sugar

For pastry, combine flour and salt in a food processor. Add shortening and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add up to 1/4 cup ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, processing as you go, until dough comes together in a loose ball. Do not overprocess or let the dough get too wet. Remove dough and divide in half. Shape each piece into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill.

This is enough to make a two-crust pie, so reserve half for another purpose. For a pie shell, roll out one disk into a 10- to 12-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Fold overhanging dough under the edge and crimp a decorative edge with thumb and forefinger. Using a fork, prick the bottom of pie shell, then whisk together an egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water, if desired, to brush over the pastry. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

For lemon filling, combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 1-3/4 cups cold water and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Remove from heat. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually beat about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into them to temper. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the remaining hot lemon mixture. Beat in the butter and vanilla and cook 1 minute more, until the mixture is thick. Pour hot mixture into the baked pastry shell.

While filling is hot, apply the meringue. Have oven heating to 400F. Place 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to boiling. Whisk in the cornstarch for meringue, dissolved in the tablespoon of cold water. Cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes or until mixture is clear. Remove from heat and cool. Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a large bowl of electric mixer set at lowest speed until just foamy. Increase speed and continue beating, alternately adding the cooled cornstarch mixture and the superfine sugar until the whites are stiff and shiny. (If you don't have superfine sugar, process regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender until very fine. Keep lid in place a while after shutting down or white powder will fly out.)

Place most of meringue in center of hot filling and put small spoonfuls around the edge. With spatula, spread the meringue out from center to meet the edge, making sure entire top is covered and edge is sealed. Bake at 400F. for 10 minutes to brown meringue a light golden color on top. Remove from oven and let pie rest 15 minutes before cutting. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Yield: 9-inch pie
 

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