Film and TV

The Non-Pressure Test: Make The Perfect Pie Crust & Lemon Meringue Like a Masterchef

Masterchef is back (and with another Houstonian in the mix)!

We've been loving the season so far, especially the pressure tests. But with a pissed-off Ramsay, daunting time restraints and cameras right in the contestants' faces waiting for them to break down in an ugly cry in front of the judges and all of America, it's no wonder these contestants succumb to the pressure.

Luckily, we don't have to. Making "stunning" versions of the challenges at home is actually not intimidating at all.

Last week, the contestants tackled a dessert classic: Lemon Meringue Pie. Perfecting the buttery, flaky shortbread crust, light and tart lemon curd filling, and fluffy, slightly crisp meringue topping can seem impossible. But no worries! With the right technique and a few tricks, you'll be mastering this triple threat in no time.

Here's how to make it:

See also: -The Non-Pressure Test: Make Lava Cake Like a MasterChef -The Non-Pressure Test: Make Eggs Like A Masterchef Part I -The Non-Pressure Test: Make Eggs Like A Masterchef Part II -The Non-Pressure Test: Make Hollandaise & Eggs Benedict Like a MasterChef

You'll need

For the crust: recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1¼ cup flour + more for rolling
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp ice water + more if needed
  • Secret ingredient: 1 tsp cider vinegar (helps prevent the formation of gluten, which can make for a tough crust)

    Note: All ingredients, especially the butter, should be very, very cold (you can even freeze the flour for a bit). This is the key to a flaky crust because it ensures that the butter won't melt when mixing.

    For the lemon curd: recipe adapted from

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1½ tsp lemon zest
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

    For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar


    For the crust:

    In a food processor, pulse flour, salt and sugar until well combined. Add cold diced butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea-sized pieces of butter distributed throughout. If the butter starts to feel too soft, stop what you are doing and freeze the ingredients again.

    Sprinkle with 2 tbsp ice water and 1 tsp cider vinegar. Pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together when squeezed, being sure to pulse and handle the dough as little as possible. Dough should be dry, but if it is not staying together, add up to 2 tbsp more water. Form dough into a 3/4-inch thick disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before rolling it out. This will allow the gluten to rest and moisture to be drawn into the dough.

    Working on a well-floured surface or floured wax-paper, roll out dough to a 14-inch round. Dust off excess flour. Wrap the dough around rolling pin and carefully unroll over a 9-inch baking pan. Gently press into bottom and sides to fit pan. Trim over-hang to 1 inch and fold it under itself. Pinch edges to form a crimp all around.

    Chill for another hour before baking. This will ensure the dough will hold its shape and shrink less when baking.

    When ready to bake, cover with parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    For the lemon curd:

    In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Whisk in the cold water and cook over medium-high heat, mixing until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute before removing from heat and adding lemon zest and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust, cover with wax paper, and let cool to room temperature. Alternative, you can chill in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.

    For the meringue:

    In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add in sugar and beat until stiff and glossy peaks form.

    To finish the pie:

    While making the meringue, preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the upper third of oven. Remove the wax paper from the filling and scrape the meringue onto the pie. Gently spread over the filling all the way to the inner edge of the crust. Use the back of a spoon to make decorative swirls and peaks.

    Bake the pie for about 7 minutes or until the meringue is just golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours.