Hundred-year-old Lemon Cream (Lemon Meringue) Pie Recipe

lemon cream pie c

There’s nothing quite as delicious as some of the classic pies.  I found a hundred-year old recipe for Lemon Creme Pie – more commonly known as Lemon Meringue Pie – in a small promotional cookbook published by the Calumet Baking Powder Company. The accompanying picture brought back memories of delectable pies made by my grandmother and great aunts at family gatherings – and I immediately knew that I needed to try it.

Source: Reliable Recipes, Published by Calumet Baking Powder Co. (1912)
Source: Reliable Recipes (1912)

The lemon juice and grated lemon peel combine beautifully with the other ingredients to create a refreshingly tart pie covered with billows of light, slightly sweet meringue. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Lemon Cream Pie (Lemon Meringue Pie)

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

4 eggs, separated

approximately 1/2 cup lemon juice + 1 tablespoon lemon juice  (juice from 2-3 lemons, depending upon size)

grated lemon peel from 2 lemons

1 1/2 cups hot water

1 9-inch baked pie shell

1/4 cup  powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine sugar and flour in a mixing bowl, then stir in egg yolks. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice, grated lemon, and water; beat until smooth. Put mixture into a saucepan; bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and continue cooking for 1 minute or until it thickens.  Put filling into the pie shell.

To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spoon the meringue onto the top of  the pie, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.

Here’s the original recipe:

lemon cream pie recipe
Source: Reliable Recipes, published by Calumet Baking Powder Co. (1912)

77 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Lemon Cream (Lemon Meringue) Pie Recipe

    1. 🙂 Sorry, next week I’ll have to post something other than a dessert. . . but at least you’re not ruining your diet by virtually enjoying the pie.

      1. hmm. . . I’m not sure that I understand the question. This recipe for Lemon Cream Pie (Lemon Meringue Pie) does not call for any kind of cheese.

  1. Lemon pie is my favorite, I think. And, I just happen to have three pints of Myer lemon juice in the freezer, waiting for an occasion. I believe the occasion has come!

    Since swaps always are fun, here’s my very favorite lemon pie. It’s called “Mile High Lemon Chiffon Pie,” and it was a specialty at Stone’s restaurant in Marshalltown, Iowa, when I was growing up. Because it’s so light, it’s a wonderful summer dessert. Oh, it’s good. I’ll probably have to make them both.

    1. Thanks for sharing the Mile High Lemon Chiffon Pie. Recipes from restaurants for their most popular dishes are the best. I see that the Mile High recipes includes gelatin. That would make the filling a little thicker than the recipe I posted–and the pie slices would probably hold their shape very well in warmer weather, when sitting a long time, etc.

  2. That’s a great recipe! Thanks for sharing it. In Australia we have an organisation called the CWA (Country Women’s Association) and they produce cookbooks for women living in country towns, from 100 years ago right up to the present day. Your recipe is very reminiscent of those cookbook recipes, right down to the ‘bake in a very slow oven’. margaret

    1. Wow, it’s wonderful that the CWA has been active for so many years. It must be so much fun to look through their cookbooks across the years, and see what foods and cooking methods were popular during different time periods.

  3. Oh I love a lemon meringue pie! Made a many of these 🙂 only I would put the oven on broil for to brown the meringue, had to watch closely so not to burn it.

    1. That would definitely work, too. When I made this recipe (and as I tried to write more modern directions for it), I looked at some recent meringue recipes to get a sense of what oven temperature should be used. And, the directions were across the board from 325° F. to broiling. It was just the amount of time that varied. Regardless of the temperature, you’ve hit on the key for successfully browning a meringue topping — watch it like a hawk! 🙂

  4. Lemon meringue pie is one of my favorites—especially in the Spring! I just researched Calumet Baking Powder Co (I thought they might have been based in Calumet, OK, which is close to me); they were a company operating in Chicago and got their start in 1889. Apparently Calumet is a word for a Native American ceremonial pipe.

    1. Interesting. . . Thanks for researching this. The hundred-year-old promotional cookbook, even has a photo of the Calumet Baking Powder, Co. factory in it. The picture caption says, ” The house that Calumet built – The largest and most sanitary baking powder plant in the world.”

    1. Thanks for sharing the link. It’s amazing how grandmothers around the world all seemed to know how to make Lemon Meringue Pie. 🙂 Your grandmother’s recipe sounds wonderful. I like how it is almost a cross between a pie and a cheesecake.

  5. Lemon pie is one of my favorites, and yours looks tempting. I have to ask the question — why was this recipe in a book put out by a baking powder company? There is no baking powder in it.

    1. You made me curious, so I looked it up. The pastry recipe called for baking powder. Interspersed in the cookbook were tidbits of information for the cook, and one indicated that it took an experienced cook to make good pastry without baking powder. Their recipe called for, of course, Calumet baking powder.

      1. You’re absolutely right. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I hadn’t even carefully looked at the pastry recipe in this cookbook until I saw your comment– since right from the start I planned to use my usual pastry recipe when making the pie shell. It’s interesting that the cookbook claims that it’s easier to make a good pastry with baking powder. Now I’m intrigued. . . and may have a try the pastry recipe in this cookbook someday. 🙂

        1. I suspect it was mainly marketing–you know, that comment about cooks “with a heavy rolling pin” making tough pastry and what talent it took to make light and airy pastry and that most ordinary cooks did not have that ability. Now granted, my maternal grandmother could make a pie crust to defy awesome, and my paternal grandmother was the heavy rolling pin queen with something that tasted akin to lard and flour play-doh and could have been used to patch concrete. To my best recollection, baking powder has never been used in the pie crusts made on the maternal side and to this day yield the tender and flaky results, and clearly, baking powder was not used in Grandma’s pastry either. 🙂 I think I see some research coming on!

          1. I think that you and I are both researchers at heart. 🙂 I love your description, and comparison. The next time I make a pie crust that doesn’t turn out quite right I’ll blame it on my heavy rolling pin. My mother used to always say that it was important to use ice cold water keep keep it tender. It was something about pie dough getting tough if the fat from melting before baking.

    2. I think that a number of food companies back then were trying to create general cookbooks and included some recipes that did not include ingredients manufactured by the company. (It’s similar to how General Mills a little later in the century created the Betty Crocker Cookbook which includes a wide range of recipes that do not call for ingredients manufactured by General Mills).

      This Calumet Baking Powder Cookbook definitely includes a number of recipes that don’t call for baking powder (for example, it has sherbet and ice cream recipes); that said, the original Lemon Meringue Pie recipe does say that the pie should be put in a “baked shell of pie paste No. 2,” which calls for baking powder. I ignored this part of the old directions and instead used my own tried and true pastry recipe to making the pie shell. Maybe I’ll have to do a future post where I try making the old “Pie Paste No. 2 recipe. (While I’m at it, I may also have to try making “Pie Paste No. 1). 🙂

    1. It always feels like a bit of magic when I make a meringue as the clear liquid egg whites transform themselves into fluffy peaks of white foam . 🙂

    1. I don’t think that you’d have any problems with this recipe. I labeled it as having medium difficulty because it involves a number of steps and components (pie shell, filling, meringue), but everything went very smoothly when I made it.

  6. I shall have to try your recipe! Not long ago I tried making a Lemon Meringue Pie and it ended up tasting a little like metal for some reason! Hugz Lisa and Bear

    1. It is interesting how some recipes are fads that come and go –whereas others like Lemon Meringue Pie are classics that never go out of style.

  7. My mother made a great lemon meringue pie but I never got her recipe. Recently I found one online and tried it. Turned out great and was similar to your recipe. I found comments about baking powder for the crusts interesting as I have never used that for my crust. My recipe calls for cold water and seems to work.

    1. It is really intriguing how the old recipe called for baking powder. It seems like the crust would have a different consistency if it was used. . . puffier? . . . airier? . . . more cake-like?

      1. Yep,they sure are! Brings back memories of being at the South Bank, waiting to see a show, with a pot of tea and a whole lemon meringue pie.. I was only 5-6 years old at the time. Such a treat!

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