The lemon pie is a craving like no other. The smell of dough in the oven, the creamy filling – a perfect mix of citrus and sweet on the palate – and the freshly made meringue. It is impossible to resist one of the desserts most popular and desired of the national cookbook. Anyone who has not tried the one prepared by Doña Isolina Vargas (her son, José del Castillo, named her Barranquilla restaurant in her name) does not know what is missing.
The one we share below is Isolina’s version, a creation full of flavor and a lot of elegance. His secret is to use good lemons and put a lot of care into it. To make a lemon pie that is rich we must be generous with the filling, not neglect the meringue and make a crunchy and tasty dough. The ultimate delight is found in a scoop that has all 3 textures.
Here we show you how to do it.
Step 1: the dough
- 400 g of unsalted butter at the same time
- 600 g unprepared flour
- 6 tablespoons sugar (can be powdered)
- 6 yolks
First, sift the flour on a workable surface. Add the granulated sugar by tablespoons.
Next, the butter enters the time. A good trick to incorporate it well into the dough is to add it in pieces and crush it with a fork.
When they have the butter incorporated into the flour, a hole is made in the mixture and the yolks are added. Take special care that nothing clear happens.
They must knead until all the ingredients are perfectly integrated. The mixture is somewhat sticky, but will soon become compact.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Mrs. Isolina even recommends doing it overnight.
Once the time has elapsed, cover a low-height mold with the dough and bake it for 30 to 40 minutes at 180 degrees. Take it out and let it cool.
Step 2: the filling
- 1 and a half can of condensed milk
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 10 juicy lemons)
- 6 yolks
Mix the milk with the yolks very well.
Next, add the lemon juice.
Cover the previously baked and cooled dough and return the preparation to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, also at 180 degrees. Be careful, it should not be hard.
Step 3: the meringue
- 6 whites (7 if they have used small eggs)
- 1 3/4 cup sugar (you can use icing for best results)
- Lemon zest
- Vanilla essence
Mix sugar and yolks and take them to a bain-marie for about 5 minutes, stirring quickly so they don’t burn.
They’ll know they’re done when they stick their finger in and feel hot without burning. Immediately after taking them to the blender.
When they are creamy, add the lemon zest and the vanilla essence, just under a tablespoon. Continue beating until you feel that the preparation has cooled down. Place the meringue in a pastry bag and take it to the mold.
Decorating and baking
Place small portions of meringue on the pie, and pull up.
If you don’t want to complicate it, you can shape it by passing a spoon over it, making small dunes on the meringue.
Once ready, take the pie to the oven again (third and last) for 1 hour over a minimum heat, so that the meringue is hard and crispy. If you want the meringue to be soft and chewy inside, just grill it for a few minutes. Doña Isolina suggests the first option.
More about Isolina and her desserts in @isolinataberna and @laredrestaurante