The best pies are homemade and seasonal. New Englanders can look forward to a sweet-tart strawberry rhubarb pie in June. Summer arrives, the berries are abundant and blueberry pie is what we crave. The extravaganza continues as raspberries, blackberries and fresh peaches come into season. Buttery, flaky, sweet and juicy pie is perfection with the bounty of fruit each season produces.
New England is all about apple pie as fall approaches and throughout winter, along with berries picked and frozen from summer. But as winter wanes, the apples are compost and the freezer is fruitless. Sugar houses are boiling syrup by late winter and into early spring. A maple walnut pie will narrow the pie gap until fruitful seasons some back around, but strawberry rhubarb pie is still a long way off.
Never fear — this is the time of year for lemon meringue pie and the perfect seasonal pie to enjoy until the first strawberries are plucked and the stalks of rhubarb yanked from the plants. No, lemons do not grow in New England, but what makes lemon meringue pie seasonal is the meringue. Spring is the best time of year to bake a meringue pie before the heat and humidity of summer arrives that will cause meringue to deflate and weep resulting in a wet and sticky slice of pie.
Enjoy this lemon meringue pie with a bit of a twist and we'll talk pie again when the rhubarb sprouts.
Citrus Meringue Pie with Marshmallow Fluff Meringue
Pastry for 9-inch crust
4 eggs, separated
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
7 ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
Reserved egg whites (must be free of any yoke or they will not whip)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 9-inch pie dish with crust and prick all over with a fork.
Bake until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Whisk together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, juices and zests. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake until partially set, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase oven to 350 degrees.
While the pie is baking, prepare the meringue. In a clean large bowl, beat the egg whites on low setting and gradually increase speed to high. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and beat in the Marshmallow Fluff a spoonful at a time until fluffy peaks that hold their shape form when you lift the beaters.
Immediately, gently spread the meringue over the hot pie filling sealing the meringue to the edge of the crust. Return to the oven and bake until the meringue is lightly golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 1 hour. Chill for a least 3 hours before serving.
Robin Anish is a former caterer who lives in Lenox, where she continues to cater to her enthusiasm for cooking. She can be contacted via The Berkshire Eagle at 75 South Church St., Pittsfield MA 01201.