My family has the best Gluten Free Pie recipe, a classic cold Lemon Angel Pie.
If you’re looking for a light and fluffy summer dessert, our chilled Gluten Free Angel Pie features a crunchy meringue crust, tart lemon curd filling and airy whipped cream topping.
Enjoy a slice of Lemon Angel Pie at a summer barbecue or special celebration like Mother’s Day, baby showers, wedding showers or birthdays.
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Best Gluten Free Pie Recipe
Looking for the best gluten free pie recipe to bake at home?
There are many recipes for gluten free pie crust that try and mimic traditional whole wheat American and Canadian recipes. Some of our favourite recipes include Savoury Pickle Pie and Cranberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie.
Traditional whole wheat pie crusts feature a solid fat like lard, vegetable shortening or butter, which is mixed with cold water and whole wheat flour to form a dough. When the crust bakes in the oven, the butter melts, allowing steam to evaporate, creating those flaky layers that pie lovers adore!
Most gluten free pie recipes that mimic traditional flaky whole wheat crusts feature ingredients like xanthan gum or gluten free flour blends.
One of the most popular gluten free pie recipes, Lemon Angle Pie, was a classic in North American kitchens in the 60s and 70s. Rather than trying to create a flaky crust without whole wheat, the recipe features a delicate meringue, made of egg whites and sugar.
What Is Lemon Angel Pie?
Lemon Angel Pie is a Gluten Free Pie recipe that was popularized in America and Canada in the 60s and 70s.
Lemon Angel Pie offers the best of both worlds, a pavlova-style meringue crust and flavours of a classic Lemon Meringue Pie.
Some fans of this gluten free pie actually describe it as an “upside down Lemon Meringue Pie.” The meringue has been taken from the top and transformed into a crust on the bottom. The lemon curd has been folded into fluffy whipped cream.
Are you a lover of classic Lemon Meringue Pie recipes but looking for a gluten free option that offers the same sweet citrus and fluffy meringue? Our classic Lemon Angle Pie recipe will be your new go to dessert!
My Family Loves Gluten Free Lemon Angel Pie
Both of my parents have an interesting obsession with lemon desserts.
My dad’s mother would make my father a lemon meringue pie every year to celebrate his birthday. Unlike most kids, he preferred lemon and meringue desserts to more classic chocolate or vanilla sponge cakes. He also crave lemon shortbread squares at Christmas.
I chatted with my mom, Janice, about her families favourite gluten free pie recipe, “Lemon Angel Pie was a very popular dessert when I was growing up. Your grandmother was a fantastic cook and baker and was on the cutting edge in the kitchen. She bought lots of cook books, watched Julia Child on TV and the Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr every week.”
Janice added, “She bought a ceramic fondue pot before it was trendy and a mixer akin to todays Kitchen Aid with all its attachments. She made all of her appetizers and desserts and sandwiches for her Bridge Club Socials at home. The only item I remember mom actually buying was Petit Fours as an added decorative touch to the selection of desserts she would serve.”
So what were my grandma Virtue’s favourites dessert recipes? Janice shared, “She loved making Lemon Angel Pie, Grasshopper Pie, Apple Pie, Double Chocolate Cake with the seven minute white icing in the middle and the mocha frosting on top. Mom also made fresh preserves for the family and all the festive goodies and Toffee Pudding at Christmas.”
Like many stay at home moms in the 60s and 70s, my grandma’s cooking was a labour of love. “She consistently created innovative meals for our family of 7 because people didn’t really go out to restaurants like they do now. Also, large families like ours were never invited out to anyone’s home because there were just not enough seats around the table for everyone. The average Canadian home at the time was a family of four kids and two parents,” said Janice.
So when would my grandma make her famous gluten free pie? “Mom would make Lemon Angel Pie often for Easter, but honestly she made it mainly in the hotter months as it is a refrigerated pie and enjoyed cold. Because it is prepared with fresh lemons, they were more plentiful at grocery stores between the spring and fall. Mom never served a slice with fruit or ice cream as she believed it was delicious enough on its own!”
How To Bake The Best Meringue
If you’ve never made homemade meringue don’t worry. Baking meringue requires scientific know how even for the most seasoned baker. Instead of relying on leavening agents like sourdough starter, yeast, baking soda or baking powder, meringue requires stiff peak whipped egg whites.
Here are our tips on making the best meringue for Gluten Free Pie:
- Room temperature egg whites are much easier to whisk, so before you begin, place refrigerated eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for a few minutes.
- Slow and steady whisking is a must. Unless you want an arm workout, use an electric eggbeater. Don’t rush and switch to the fastest setting. Start on the lowest speed until the egg whites turn opaque, then slowly speed up. Egg white contains chains of proteins that need to stretch slowly so they trap air. If you beat them too fast you’ll risk breaking some of the protein chains permanently, making an unstable foam that’s likely to collapse when you add sugar.
- Use a clean stainless steal bowl to whip your egg whites. Plastic bowls or vessels that aren not thoroughly cleaned may contain grease, which impedes the egg white proteins from forming those necessary chains. Similarly, if you crack egg whites into the bowl and a yolk breaks, don’t panic. Use a small spoon to remove the yolk to ensure your meringue reaches the hard peak stage.
- Classic meringue recipes include just two ingredients: egg white and white sugar. Many recipes also call for the addition of cream of tartar, an acid which helps strengthen the structure and prevent over whisking. We’ve used cream of tartar in our Lemon Angel Pie recipe to help you achieve the best results.
- Bake low and slow in the oven. To achieve the best meringue you want to bake at a low temperature, between 250-300F. Bake meringue for at least an hour and you’ll avoid burning and they’ll crisp up nicely.
How To Bake The Best Lemon Curd
Lemon curd is one of my favourite sweet indulgences. You can buy lemon curd in a jar at your grocery store where they sell jams and jellies. Making homemade lemon curd is so much better as you’ll be using fresh ingredients and will avoid eating unnecessary stabilizers, which produce a lower quality product.
Lemon curd is traditionally served at High Tea, slathered on scones with clotted cream and berry jam. Most people are familiar with curd as its the filling featured in Lemon Meringue Pie recipes.
Lemon curd is a colloidal dispersion, similar to mayonnaise. The fat in the egg yolk is attracted to the acid in the lemon juice and when agitated with a whisk, transforms two liquids into a solid gel after cooling.
Here are our tips on making the best lemon curd for Gluten Free Pie:
- Use a double boiler. A double boiler is essentially a pot filled with water that is heated over the stove with an additional pot or large stainless steel bowl siting on top. Once the water in the pot boils the steam heats the underside bowl containing your egg yolk mixture. Since steam only reaches 212F it allows you to control the temperature so the yolk doesn’t overcook and curdle. We do not suggest making lemon curd in a pot directly over the stove for this reason.
- Don’t stop whisking! Once you have added all of the lemon curd ingredients to the bowl make sure to consistently whisk, just like you would when making a homemade mayonnaise. The fat in the yolk and acid in the lemon juice require constant agitation to transform into the thick pudding you’re looking to create.
- How to fix runny lemon curd. If you’re curd is still thin you can try this hack. Whisk in a bit more cold butter. The addition of extra fat will help the curd stay firm as it cools.
- Why is my lemon curd not setting? It’s usually too thin if it hasn’t been heated for long enough. First let the curd to cool completely, watching for it to thicken as it cools. If it remains runny, allow more steam to heat the bottom of your bowl for a little longer.
Tips on Making Gluten Free Pie
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the science behind lemon curd and meringue you’re ready to make our favourite Gluten Free Pie recipe.
Janice offers a few tips on how to master my family’s Lemon Angle Pie recipe:
- Keep the lemon curd at room temperature. Many Lemon Angel Pie recipes instruct you to store the cooked curd in the fridge before filling the meringue crust. Once the curd becomes cold it is more challenging to spread as it hardens into a thick paste. While your meringue crust is baking, simply leave the curd in a bowl on your kitchen counter, covered in plastic wrap to ensure it doesn’t dry out. The lemon curd will be much easier to fold into the whipped cream later.
- Use a pallet knife to shape the gluten free pie crust. After you have scooped your meringue into the greased pie plate, use a flat icing knife to help create shape to the crust. Janice likes to create attractive waves by pulling the stiff whipped egg whites to the top of the rim of the pie plate.
- Leave your oven door open after baking. Once you peak into the oven and realize your meringue has finished baking don’t remove it immediately and place it on your stove as the dramatic temperature change will cause the crust to crack. Instead, simply turn off your oven and leave the door ajar for up to an hour. Once completely cool the Lemon Angle Pie meringue crust will hold its shape perfectly.
- Save some lemon zest. We love to decorate this gluten free pie with fresh lemon zest. It contrasts nicely with the white whipped cream topping.
What To Serve with Gluten Free Pie
My grandmother was adamant about serving Lemon Angle Pie all on its own.
If it’s your first time tasting this classic gluten free pie recipe we do suggest enjoying your first fork full all on its own. You’ll taste creamy and cold whipped cream, tart lemon curd and a crunchy and chewy meringue crust.
I love serving Lemon Angel Pie with fresh summer berries, simple cookies like shortbread or a scoop of lemon or vanilla ice cream.
Storing Lemon Angel Pie
Lemon Angle Pie is the perfect gluten free pie to enjoy in the summer as it requires refrigeration.
Only remove the Lemon Angel Pie from the fridge moments before you’re hoping to slice and serve it. This ensures the whipped cream does not melt and your guests enjoy the desired cool consistency.
If you have any leftover Gluten Free Pie, cover it in plastic wrap and enjoy within 2-3 days.
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Best Gluten Free Lemon Angel Pie Recipe
Lemon Angel Pie
- Pie plate
- Egg beaters
- Double boiler
- 4 eggs separated
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar divided
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or egg beater in a large metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until white and fluffy, 5-6 minutes.
- Slowly add 1 cup white sugar and cream of tartar. Beat egg white until it reaches a stiff peak and is glossy.
- Pour meringue into a buttered 9 inch deep-dish pie plate. Using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula, pull the meringue up the sides of the pie plate so it looks like a crust and will hold the filling after being baked.
- Bake Lemon Angel Pie crust meringue at 300F for 45-60 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven.
- Once the pie crust is fully cooked, turn the oven off and leave the door ajar. Let the pie crust cool to room temperature before removing. This slow cooling down process ensures the meringue does not crack from a sudden change in temperature.
- Meanwhile, beat 4 egg yolks in the top of a double boiler. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
- Whisk lemon curd over double boiler until cooked into a thickened sauce, approximately 4-5 minutes. Cover curd with saran wrap and rest at room temperature in your kitchen. Do not place lemon curd in the fridge as it will get hard and make it challenging to incorporate into the whipped cream later.
- In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or egg beater in a large metal mixing bowl, whip whipping cream with vanilla until stiff.
- Gently fold lemon curd into half of the whipped cream.
- Pour lemon curd mixture into meringue pie shell. Top with remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
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