Yield: 1 9-inch pie, serving 8 (plus one extra pie crust)

Cook’s notes: I’ve given fairly detailed instructions here, but the recipe is not at all complicated. Making the crust takes the longest; if it frightens you too much, buy a good-quality all-butter frozen crust (such as from Whole Foods) and bake according to package instructions. The recipe here makes two crusts; if you’re going to the trouble of making pie dough, why not have an extra disk to put in the freezer? You can easily cut the crust ingredients in half, but using the larger amounts gives you more wiggle room in adding the water and mixing the butter to the correct consistency. Try adding a teaspoon of lemon zest to the pie crust for even more flavor, tossing it with the flour. Note that when a recipe says to fill a crust with beans or pie weights for prebaking, it does mean fill — to the rim of the crust. Without that weight, the crust may slip down the sides as it cooks. … What’s the easiest way to separate an egg? Hold your very clean hand palm up, slightly cupped, with fingers close together, and crack the egg over your fingers (if you can’t crack an egg one-handed, crack it into a cup first). Let the whites slip through your fingers. If you don’t have cream of tartar, don’t let that stop you from making this — just leave it out. I like my meringues plain, but you could add a dash of vanilla when the whites form soft peaks.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup very cold water, or more as needed

6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1 3-ounce package lemon pudding & pie filling (not instant pudding)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 1/4 cups cold water, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (optional–omit for a perfectly smooth filling)

Make crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar and salt with the paddle attachment for about 30 seconds. Add the butter; toss it briefly with your fingers to coat with flour. Cut butter into flour on low speed until butter pieces are pea-sized. Add 1/4 cup water and mix on low speed just until mixture starts to come together; you may need to add up to 3 more tablespoons water. Dough should hold together but not be sticky. Gather into a ball, divide in half, and use immediately, or wrap each half in plastic, flatten into a disk, and chill until ready to use (to freeze, overwrap in foil).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of pie dough to about an 11-inch circle, lifting and turning the dough to keep it from sticking to the surface. Fold the dough in quarters and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, preferably glass or pottery. Unfold and gently tuck it into the sides of the pan; fold under the overhang and decoratively crimp the edges or press them with fork tines for a pretty edge. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees. Line the pie dough with foil, letting it drape loosely over the rim. Fill with pie weights, rice, or dried beans to the top. Bake 20 minutes; remove foil and weights. Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer, until golden and crisp. Cool on a wire rack; leave oven on.

Make meringue: In a very small saucepan, whisk together 1 tablespoon sugar, cornstarch and water until the cornstarch dissolves. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Continue to beat while gradually adding remaining 5 tablespoons sugar. Beat until the whites are satiny and form a soft peak (one that droops slightly) when the beaters are lifted. Beat in cornstarch mixture by spoonfuls until whites hold very stiff peaks. Set aside.

Make filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together pie filling, sugar, egg yolks and 1/4 cup water until smooth. Whisk in remaining 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly (be sure to get the whisk into the edges of the pan). Remove from heat and whisk in butter, lemon juice and lemon zest, whisking until butter is melted. Pour into pie crust. Immediately top with dollops of meringue. With an offset metal or rubber spatula, or with a table knife, spread the meringue to the edges of the crust, being sure to seal it to the crust all the way around. From time to time lift the spatula to make small peaks. Bake on the center shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, or until meringue is golden. Let cool and serve at room temperature; keep leftovers refrigerated.

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