Story and photos by Kaitlin Hill
On the third Sunday in June, dads, grandfathers and godfathers are shown the appreciation they always deserve, but don’t often enough receive, in the form of summer gatherings and gifts. Sadly, since the holiday’s beginning, Father’s Day gifting frequently falls somewhere between deciding what color tie dad doesn’t already have and figuring out what a 4-iron is. If that sounds like you, this year try breaking with tradition and upping the sentiment by telling dad how you really feel, with a sweet homemade treat and touching note for a truly happy Father’s Day.
Far from a day of celebration, the first Father’s Day was recorded on July 5, 1908. On this day, a sermon was given to honor fathers, especially the 362 of them who passed in the Fairmont Coal Company explosion months before. Two years later, in Spokane, Washington, the first statewide Father’s Day was put on by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was raised by a widower and believed that dads deserved a similar day of appreciation to moms. Despite her efforts, it took 62 years for Father’s Day to be made an official federal holiday, and, like many holidays, it has become increasingly materialistic.
Some historians claim that the holiday’s unpopular start was because fathers didn’t have the same sentimentality as mothers. Others attribute its slow spread to resistance from fathers themselves. The idea was that in a time when men were the primary breadwinners, they wouldn’t want to pay for their own gifts. It wasn’t until The Great Depression that the holiday received a boost, when floundering retailers advertised it as a “second Christmas for men” and pushed golf supplies and ties. These days, Americans spend an estimated $1 billion for dad’s day.
Personally, I take issue with both theories and the traditional but unoriginal gifts. So this year I’ll surprise my dad with a homemade Lemon Meringue Pie that is just as sweet as he is, and give him a note from the heart expressing how much he means to me. Try my recipe and you can, too!
Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe:
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
2 – 3 tablespoons of ice water
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites (left over from the filling)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ a cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
For the filling:
1 1/3 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
To make the crust, place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse 10 – 15 times until the butter is the size of peas. Next, with the food processor running, stream in the water. Keep blending until the dough comes together in a ball. Press the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Once the crust has chilled, you are ready to prepare it for the blind bake. Place the crust on a generously floured surface and roll out until it is a quarter of an inch in thickness and slightly larger than your 9-inch pie pan. Carefully place the dough in the pie pan and press it in gently. Trim a little of the excess off and crimp the edges of the crust. Place a large sheet of parchment in cavity of the pie dough and fill with pie weights. Place the crust into the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Take the pie out of the oven and remove the parchment and pie weights. Prick the bottom of the pie with a fork and return the piecrust to the oven to bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, until the bottom is cooked. Set the crust aside to cool while you make the meringue and filling.
To make the meringue, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk vigorously until the egg whites are frothy and warm to the touch. Next, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, continue to whip the egg whites while gradually streaming in the sugar. Continue to whip until they become opaque and hold a soft peak. Just before you turn off the mixer, add the vanilla. Set the meringue aside while you make the filling.
To make the filling, whisk together the water, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes thick and bubbly. This will take about five minutes. Once the mixture is thick, turn the heat to low and prepare to temper the egg yolks.
Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium size bowl. Add a little of the warm lemon juice mixture at a time while stirring. Keep adding small amounts of the lemon juice mixture to the eggs yolks until the yolks are warm. Transfer the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining lemon juice mixture. Keep cooking for a few more minutes until the mixture is once again thick and bubbly. Turn off the heat, and whisk in the butter.
Turn on your broiler.
To assemble the pie, spread the warm filling into the cooled crust. Top filling with meringue, making sure to spread meringue all the way out to the crust. You can make decorative swirls in the meringue with the back of a spoon.
Place pie under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until the meringue is evenly browned. Don’t walk away; this happens very quickly.
Remove the pie from the oven and cool to room temperature for one hour before placing in the refrigerator to cool for four hours.
Once the pie has set, slice and enjoy! ML