I’m not much of a baker, but when I saw this pie recipe from NYT Cooking I had to try it. Make an all-butter single pie crust (or use your favourite pie crust recipe), place it in a pie plate, poke holes in the bottom of the dough, fill with pie weights and bake the crust. Combine lemon, sugar and cranberries in pan and boil for about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture. Combine cornstarch, water and egg yolks in the pan and return the strained cranberry mixture. Boil for about 5 minutes and then add lemon juice and cold butter. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie shell. Before serving, make the meringue and pile on the centre of the pie filling. Use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue or bake for about 10 minutes. Cook’s note: I used an immersion blender on the cranberry mixture before putting put it through a sieve. I didn’t want to use raw egg whites, so I used ½ cup (125 ml) pasteurized egg whites and they whipped up beautifully.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use unbleached flour and make sure the butter does not contain colour.

Cranberry lemon meringue pie


For the pie crust

1/3 cup (85) grams ice-cold water

2 teaspoons (10 ml) distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons (10 ml) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon (5 ml) fine sea or table salt

1 cup (228 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch (1.25-cm) cubes

2 ½ cups (330 grams) all-purpose flour

For the pie

1 disk all-butter pie crust

All-purpose flour, for rolling

1 cup (211 grams) granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) fine sea or table salt

2 medium lemons

3 cups (343 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries

2 tablespoons (30 ml) cornstarch

4 large eggs, separated

3 tablespoons (42 grams) cold unsalted butter

¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cream of tartar

½ cup (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)


For the pie crust

Stir together the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolve. Put in the freezer until ready to use.

To make the dough in a stand mixer, toss the butter with the flour in the mixer bowl until evenly coated. Beat with the paddle on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. It’s OK if there are a few pea-size clumps, but there shouldn’t be many. Add the water solution all at once and beat on low speed until the mixture forms large clumps and no floury bits remain.

To make the dough in a food processor, pulse the butter and flour until coarse crumbs form. Add the water solution all at once and pulse until the mixture forms large clumps.

To make the dough by hand, toss the butter with the flour in a large bowl until evenly coated. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut or smoosh the butter and rub it into the flour until coarse crumbs form. It’s OK if there are some almond-size pieces, but there shouldn’t be many. Add the water solution all at once and stir with a fork or your hand until the dough comes together.

Whichever method you used, gather the dough into a large mass (about 5 cups/660 grams total). If making single-crust or regular double-crust pies, divide the dough in half to form 2 disks (2.5 cups/330 grams each). For a lattice pie, form a little more than a third of the dough into a disk for the bottom, then split the remaining in half to form 2 disks for the top.

Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and preferably 1 day. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

For the pie

If the dough has been refrigerated for more than an hour, let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12½-inch (31.75-cm) round. Roll the dough up onto the pin, then unroll it over a standard (not deep-dish) 9-inch (23-cm) pie plate, centring it. Gently tuck and press it into the bottom and sides of the plate without stretching the dough. Fold the overhang of the dough under itself along the rim so that the dough is flush with the edge of the plate. If you’d like, crimp the edges of the dough.

If the dough has softened, refrigerate or freeze it until firm, about 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 10 minutes in the freezer. While the dough chills, position a rack in the lowest position in the oven and heat to 375 degrees F (190 C).

Use a fork to poke holes all over the bottom of the dough without piercing all the way through, if possible. Line the dough with a sheet of crumpled parchment paper (crumpling helps it lie flat against the dough.) Fill the lined dough to the top with pie weights, such as dried beans.

Bake on the bottom rack until the edges are light golden brown, the sides look dry and the bottom looks almost dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pie weights with the parchment and return the empty shell to the bottom rack. Bake until the bottom is golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Place the sugar and salt in a large saucepan and zest the lemons directly over it. Gently rub the zest into the sugar. Into a small bowl, squeeze a scant ½ cup (125 ml) juice from the lemons; set aside. Add the cranberries and 1¼ cups (312 ml) water to the saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil until all of the cranberries have popped and collapsed and the liquid is red, syrupy and filled with cranberry seeds, 8 to 10 minutes.

Pour the cranberry mixture through a sieve, pressing on the berries to extract all their juice and scraping everything off the underside of the sieve. (You should have 2 cups (500 ml); discard the solids inside the sieve.) Add the cornstarch to the empty saucepan (no need to wash) and whisk in 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water until smooth. Add the egg yolks and whisk until smooth, then use a spatula to stir in the strained cranberry mixture.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously, then continue to boil while stirring until very thick, 3 to 5 minutes. The mixture should be boiling hard with big bubbles. Turn off the heat and stir in the cold butter and reserved lemon juice until the butter melts. Pour into the cooled pie shell and spread evenly. (At this point, the pie can be cooled completely, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring back to room temperature before topping with the meringue.)

Whisk the egg whites with an electric hand or stand mixer on medium-high speed until foamy on top. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form. When you lift the whisk from the mixture, the top will droop back down. Add the confectioners’ sugar, sifting it if it’s at all lumpy. Whisk on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. When you lift the whisk from the mixture, the top should stand up and just the tip will have a curlicue.

Pile the meringue in the centre of the warm pie filling, leaving a 1- to 2-inch (2.54- 5-cm) rim of filling if you’d like. (If covering the filling, spread the meringue over the crust.) Use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue all over or, bake at 375 degrees F (190 C) until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool the pie at room temperature until the filling is set very firm. If the meringue weeps moisture onto the filling, dab it away with a paper towel. Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) pie.

From NYT Cooking