Lemon Meringue Pie
Or in my case Lemon Meringue Tartelettes…yep, can’t escape that nickname but to my defense Jen from The Canadian Baker and hostess for this month Daring Bakers' challenge had given us the option to make several tartelettes instead of one large pie. Be prepared to bathe in deliciously tart lemon curd and come out all sticky of meringue as 450 Daring Bakers got all sticky gooey once more just for you….and to overcome their fears, baking issues or just to have some fun!
Although this was not my first lemon meringue pie, it was fun to use someone else’s recipe for crust and curd and compare them with the ones I constantly use. No big challenge but I was so tired the day I made it that I really did not pay close attention and followed the recipe blindly. Hint to those DB who have to use violent threats to themselves to follow a recipe to a "t"…do it when you can barely stand on your feet from exhaustion, physical or mental. Mine was mental so I went ahead and dove in.
The crust turned out ok, not my favorite but very good. I like mine flaky with good ole Crisco. Since my mother in law gave me her recipe, I just think this is the best (and not too many worries for my arteries I use the non trans-fat one that came out a couple of years ago). This one did the trick, except that being on auto-drive that evening I added the whole measurement of cold water to the flour mixture instead of my usual a few tablespoons at a time until it comes together. Oopps…dough was wet…Wrapped it up, parked it in the fridge for an hour, with the absolutely faith (that means all digits crossed here) that the flour and butter would work their magic and tame their thirst with the extra moisture. Worked! People, never fondle your dough too much no matter how soft and shiny it is or you will pay the price of tough and too elastic a piece to work with! After that a familiar scene happened: roll the dough, cut rounds, fill tartelettes molds, cover with parchment paper, fill with dry beans, blind bake and let cool. Oven on, tired Tartelette…I almost forgot they were in when the neighbors gathering for drinks started to wonder what I was baking! I had forgotten we had planned a game of Scrabble.
On to the curd….now I had an audience…ahahahah!!!! Most likely they will be too invested in the game to notice if I mess up! It wa the first time I used a curd recipe that involved water and which method was slightly unsual (see the recipe below). I have been spoiled by the lemon curd in Alice Medrich’s book on low fat dessert and the fantabulous full fat lemon cream from Pierre Herme. But eh! I am always willing to try something new for my lovely Daring Bakers!! Everything went smoothly and the curd turned out smooth and tart, just like I love it. I remembered the good old advice from Harold McGee not to stir the cornstarch mixture too vigorously and not to cook it passed boiling or it will reverse its thickening properties…amazing given I was completely distracted by C. challenging B. about a word during our Scrabble game. Kids……!
The meringue part….delicious. Again, of where there is fluffy sugar topping there usually is a happy Tartelette. The recipe instructed us to use the oven for that part, but my oven was crowded with pizza when that part came up so I "had" to use the blowtorch (another excuse to play with fire) and for the kids to be convinced I had magical powers!! I first played with it on the tartelettes like I had done previously on lime meringue cupcakes and then I just used a plain tip and a large star tips and did the minis with them…and they kind of looked like cupcakes after all. I think I lost at Scrabble but I took the prize for eating the most of the mini lemon meringue pies in one sitting. What can I say…I love anything with lemons!
Will I make this particular lemon meringue pie again? Actually I did a couple of times for a friend and my mother in law and everybody enjoyed it. For us? Probably, not so much for the crust but the curd was really tart…which I love, so I will make sure to serve it to people who share the same fancy. The meringue was not overly, cloyingly sweet so it will be used again for other tarts.
Be sure to check my fellow Daring Bakers' posts popping out there everywhere and thanks Jen for a yummy recipe!
Lemon Meringue Pie: recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie. I made four 3.5-inch ones and twelve 2-inch minis.
For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
For 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 ⅛ 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 ½ 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.
For 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.
For 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.
And remember that you have until 4pm today to get the chance to get yourself a box of canneles!