First, let me be clear: A lemon chiffon pie is not the same as a lemon meringue pie. You’ve probably had the latter—a baked custard capped with a stiff topping made of egg whites and sugar that’s toasted on top. Lemon chiffon is more like a mousse: There are still whipped egg whites, but you fold them into a sweet, tart curd, making for an airier, creamier pie. Then the whole thing is topped with whipped cream. “I think it’s much better than lemon meringue,” my mother said recently. We were in her kitchen, with my grandmother’s recipe laid out in front of us on the table.

Lemon chiffon was my grandmother Mary Imm’s specialty at the restaurant she and my grandfather Albert owned and ran in the 1950s. It was a diner near the New Holland tractor factory outside Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They catered to the machine workers

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