Monday, January 28, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie for the Daring Bakers

We never made lemon meringue pie when I was in alimentary school. We made tarts with puckery sour lemon curd, and they were swell, but the whole Serious French Pastry Establishment really has very little kind to say about puddings and fillings made with cornstarch and water. How wrong they are. These sweet little pies are adorable, and great fun to make. I am so grateful to the Daring Bakers for challenging me once again to try something I have never done before. This week was also the first time I ever went ice skating or Norwegian folk dancing. All three of these new activities involve twirling exhilarating weightlessness—Just look at those swirly little peaks.

This is a recipe that benefits especially from being made in the smallest pans for which you have the patience. The filling is quite sweet, and still plenty puckery, so a high crust ratio is just the bee’s knees. I made two thirds of the recipe for the filling and still had lemon filling and meringue left over. I piped the leftover meringue into kisses and baked them in a very slow oven overnight to serve alongside glasses of lemon parfait. Here is the recipe. My comments are in square brackets.

Lemon Meringue Pie

[I made two 5-inch pies and seven tiny tartlettes]

Recipe from: Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver.

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (170 gram) 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 (50 gram) butter
3/4 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
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) granulated 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 (0.3 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 [I just prebaked the crusts without any lining. The smaller your tarts, the more you can get away with].

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) [a little higher I think—I baked these at 400]. 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 [in the top third of the oven], or until golden [ideally, you should have a contrast of dark tips and white valleys]. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust [you can even have them while they are still warm. Yummy!].



Blogger Miriam Segura-Harrison said...

ooo these look delightful!

3:57 PM  
Blogger ostwestwind said...

They look wonderfull appetizing!

4:31 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

miriam and ostwestwind,

thanks! I am so glad I made these!

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, they look pretty! Good job :)

11:27 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

those really look lovely!!

12:07 PM  
Blogger Beth G. @SweetLifeKitchen said...

They are gorgeous! Great job!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Your littlepies look delicious. I learnt one thing toady, that is that small is beautiful and more manageable and easier to eat.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Colette said...

The meringue looks really beautiful.

12:58 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

maryann, carrie, beth g., aparna, and colette,

many thanks, I think I am going to make these again very soon, maybe with kaffir lime juice. Also, I will halve the filling and meringue, and make a sour cream crust (recipe to follow).

1:46 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

These look so wonderful!

4:22 PM  
Blogger Chou said...

I love your meringue! Very true about the crust to filling ration: it really depends on the pie.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Fabulous tartlets! love the meringue peaks!

10:47 PM  
Blogger Deeba PAB said...

Lovely looking the kisses! Yes, they were plenty puckery, a great challenge & not quite my dream finale! Enjoyed the challenge, even though my pie was wobbly & watery...but IO had a great time! Your pies are ever so sweet!!

10:54 PM  
Blogger Mother Bliss said...

Oh my goodness, your tarts look soooo good! They look too good to eat!

1:17 AM  
Blogger sher said...

Can I adopt those little darlings? Of course, I'll eat them, because how could I resist? Your meringue is so pretty.

2:46 AM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

deborah and rachel,
thanks so much!
thanks, yes, this works very well when you increase the crust ratio.
passionate baker,
sorry your filling went wobbly--I hope you'll try again.
mother bliss,
NOTHING is "too good to eat"!!! :)
give them a good and loving home!

11:21 AM  
Blogger Dolores said...

Great job... you've got some beautiful bite sized tarts. I'm glad you enjoyed experimenting with a new recipe.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Angel said...

Your tarts looks so darling. The piping looks so perfect. Now I'm going to try and make some this weekend. They are too cute to not try.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Sandra Le Petrin said...

Oh they are just perfect!
I'm french and I was very surprised with the lemon cream recipe. If you wanna make a lemon curd, you should use butter but if you wanna make a lemon cream, you make a creme patissiere using egg yolks and cornstarch and you substitute the milk with lemon juice.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your lemon tarts look amazingly beautiful! Great job!



8:22 AM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

very interesting, thanks.

you are so kind!

8:25 AM  
Blogger Jen Yu said...

Those tarts are simply dazzling! I love the look of them - beautiful :)

2:30 PM  
Blogger Laura Rebecca said...

Very, very pretty -- I love the little peaks!

5:25 PM  
Blogger Helene said...

Looks gorgeous! The French are all over shortbread crusts with lemon curds, I could not get enough growing up. The tall peaks of meringue always symbolized America for me! The minis are just darling!

11:20 PM  
Blogger Lunch Buckets said...

Those are just crazy cute. Good work!

4:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Glad you got to try something new...great job!

5:28 PM  
Blogger creampuff said...

Oh, my! That curd looks glorious!

5:49 PM  

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