I have become more adept at recreating these older recipes, but it does often require quite a bit of tweaking, as well as the realization that the final result may not be what was expected. For example, this recipe yielded a pie with richer and more custardy lemon filling - deliciously good, just different. And since it wasn't a very thick layer, when I added the meringue topping, the pie was not as generously sized as the typical sky-high lemon meringue pies we think of today.
I actually embrace these differences between the old and new. In fact, I often prefer the older recipes - for example, Mrs. Rorer's Chocolate Cake and Mrs. Goodfellow's Jumbles. I am now adding this lemon pie recipe to this list. It is easy to make and I love the fact it is so easily replicated from a recipe over 125 years old!
I feel lucky to have discovered it through my experiences testing and writing about the recipes from Anna Maxwell's Victorian- era journal for a new blog on the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion's website. Also known as “The First Lady of the House,” Anna Smith Maxwell (1831-1912) moved into the Mansion with her husband Ebenezer and their family in 1859.
I have been fascinated with lemon pudding and its metamorphosis into lemon meringue pie since I started researching Mrs. Goodfellow and America's first cooking school. Prior to this I was not aware that this beloved dessert had its origins in Philadelphia, a creation developed from one of Mrs. Goodfellow’s signature confections, a rich lemon pudding. The custardy pudding was either spooned into a pastry crust before baking (like a pie), or simply poured into a dish and baked without a bottom shell. At some point she cleverly thought to top her famous pudding with fluffy meringue. Thank goodness she did otherwise we would not be celebrating Lemon Meringue Pie Day today!
Here's my new favorite version, courtesy of Anna Maxwell's journal:
Grate the rinds of three lemons, and the juice of one. 8 tablespoons of sugar, the yolks of six eggs, 1 tablespoon of flour, 6 of sugar 1 cup of cream. Line the pans with crusts and pour in the mixture and bake. Take the six whites of the eggs and six tablespoons of sugar mixed well together and after the pies are baked spread it over them and return to the oven until brown.
For more on lemon meringue pie and its history as a Victorian-era creation, see the blog post on the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion website: Lemon Pie