Monday, January 28, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie-A Daring Bakers' Challenge

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Lemon Meringue Pie and I go way back to my cooking experiences as a newly-wed eager to show my husband that I was a competent pastry and dessert cook. I spent my days poring over cookbooks, trying all kinds of puddings,pies and cakes. We were eating desserts nearly every night! I was growing in my culinary knowledge, but so was our weight. Desserts then became reserved for special occasions.

Having made many pies over the years, Lemon Meringue wasn't my first one in my early years of baking, but the most memorable one. I remember how easy the crust was to roll out, how easy the filling was to make; in retrospect, too easy! As I pulled this beautiful meringue-topped showpiece out of the oven, my hand hit a hot part of the oven rack and the pie went crashing to the floor. I was inconsolable! Lucky no one was there to see the calamity. The memory has faded now and since that disaster, I have made many pies, but have been very careful in removing them from the oven.

Jen of CanadianBaker chose a very good recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie as the January Daring Bakers' challenge. Every part of the recipe went well. I substituted Meyer lemon juice for the ordinary lemon juice and used caster or superfine sugar for the meringue.Meyer lemons are sweeter than ordinary lemons and work great for desserts and lemonade, but for acidic dishes, stick with regular lemons. If you can't locate caster sugar, whirl granulated sugar in a food processor for a few minutes. Let the dust settle for a minute before removing the sugar from the bowl of the food processor to measure. Other than those substitutions, the recipe remained unchanged. The pie crust recipe was one of the best I've made and the easiest. I couldn't possible give my pie away and even though there are just two of us at home now, we ate the whole thing in two days-even for breakfast!! If the crust got soggy, we didn't notice.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) caster sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Pie recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
Tartlet recipe courtesy of Ripe for Dessert by David Lebovitz, 2003


Tablebread said...

Wow! You piled your meringue up to the ceiling ;) Looks great - congratulations!

scotbrit said...

What a great looking lemon pie! I wouldn't mind having that for breakfast.

Meeta said...

Lovely that thick layer of meringue! Congrats!

Big Boys Oven said...

Looks so complete! I love it!

Deborah said...

Your pie is one of the prettiest I've seen!!

Lynnylu said...

tablebread-thanks-i had a good meringue day.
scotbrit-thanks, i probably gained a few pounds, but it was worth it.
meeta-thanks, i'm pleased the way the meringue whipped up.
bigboysoven-thanks for commenting.

Meryl said...

I didn't even think about eating it for breakfast--what a great idea!

Molly Loves Paris said...

You have the quintessential lemon meringue pie. Maybe it looks just like my Mom's. Well done!

Lesley said...

I have meringue envy, very nice!

Barbara said...

Perfect looking pie. I used to make them when I was young also.

SweetDesigns said...

WOOT!! another mile high Meringue pie ;) I did that too, I just loved mounding it on. It looks wonderful!! Great job!!

skrockodile said...

Glad you didn't drop it this time! You are smarter than I am - I have burned myself 1,000 times taking stuff out of the oven but I never let go and have so many scars to prove it!

Chris said...

Oh - I am in Meringue heaven with your pie!

Andrea said...

Your pie looks wonderful! Lovely meringue.

Dolores said...

Beautiful job with this month's challenge.

Princess of the kitchen said...

Looks just beautiful> Picture perfect!

linda said...

Wonderful pie! So the Meyer lemons didn't make it too sweet?

Anonymous said...


Proud Italian Cook said...

Your pie and your photography are beautiful!!

Anonymous said...

Your pie looks scrumptious! Bravo!

Lynnylu said...

meryl-it's a tasty breakfast, too.
mollylovesparis-it reminds me of my mom's pie, also.
barbara-meringue pies were very popular "back when".
sweet designs-meringue is so beautiful and white.
skrockodile-i have had other kitchen disasters, but dropping pies has ceased.
chris-thanks-yummy meringue!!
delores-thanks for commenting
princess of the kitchen-love your blog name.
linda-i didn't notice the pie being too sweet with the Meyers.
proud italian cook-thanks

breadchick said...

Jen did choose a nice recipe didn't she! Your meringue is really high. Great job on the challenge.

Lori Lynn said...

I especially like the pie on the blue and white plate, classic colors with the lemon yellow. So pretty.

Fruit tart said...

Lovely pie! I think my husband would eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks too.

Lunch Buckets said...

I don't know if I'd ever recover after that kind of drop! Lovely pie :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Wonderful pie!

Jen Yu said...

Oh yum, how gorgeous is THAT?! Great job!!

creampuff said...

Just lovely!

Peabody said...

Now that is the breakfast of champions. Your pie looks great.

Claire said...

Looks great! I didn't find the crust soggy either!

Lynnylu said...

breadchick-jen's recipe was really delicious.
lori lynn-thanks, i collect English blue/white transferware.
fruit tart-my husband cheers me on-probably because he loves desserts!
lunch buckets-it was tough, but time heals all wounds.
jen yu-it's great fun participating in DB.
creampuff-wonderful DB event!
peabody-have had to work harder at the gym since indulging in desserts for breakfast.
claire-the crust held up better than I expected, also.

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