Margaret Question:Help! I have made excellent lemon meringue pies (no, I don't have your pie bible...just the cake book) and yesterday I made a double recipe for my son's 42nd. And it was much to sweet and did not set properly even though I am sure I used the right amount of cornstarch plus flour and cooked over boiling water for at least 20 minutes. Could I have overcooked it? The order lemon juice is added to the egg yolks is different in different recipes. Is there a physical / chemical reaction that could have impacted it's "set-up"? I was abit embarrassed as I am known as a good cook and baker. The meringue was fine and has not "wept" even after 24 hoursl. Rose Reply: lemon meringue is in the top 3 of my favorite pies. i hope it helps to know that the same thing happened to me when i was showing off my new pie plate to my cousins about 6 months ago! this is the first time in many years that this has happened and on thinking about it i realized that a double boiler is NOT a good idea bc cornstarch will not thicken completely until it reaches a boil and a double boiler prevents it from reaching this temperature. i suspect that bc you doubled the recipe and used the double boiler it did not get hot enough. also the lemon juice is best added AFTER thickening as the acidity can prevent the cornstarch from doing it's job! if egg yolks don't reach a temperature of over 140 degrees F the thickening they provide actually reverses itself due to the enzyme amylase in the yolk which attacks the starch unless it's deactivated by adequate heat. whew! make it again soon so you won't be left with a sense of failure. it happens to everyone. baking can be full of surprises. but mostly happy ones!
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