28 January 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie

Time again for the Daring Bakers Challenge! This one was more my speed - a pie. But not just any pie, oh no. This challenge was Lemon Meringue: that classic bottom crust pie with a smooth lemon filling and fluffy high-to-the-sky meringue. This challenge was hosted by Jenn over at The Canadian Baker, and I couldn't wait to give it a try. I've made a pie or two in my day, but never lemon meringue (key lime yes, chocolate pudding yes, but meringue? not exactly).

Now I must admit: I am not a fan of citrus curds. To me, there is an odd metallicy taste that I just can't palate. But with this pie? No problems at all. I think the reason is that I was measuring my vanilla over the bowl of filling, and accidently over-poured (probably more like 2 tsp. in mine). It actually brought out a much warmer flavor in the lemon filling, and cut out any of that weird slightly-metallic taste I usually detect. Yay! Just goes to prove: mistakes are sometimes in one's favor.

A lot of fellow bakers had problems with the curd not setting, and I must admit - mine spent many hours in the fridge (then freezer) to get it thickened up. I made the free-form tarts, which really needed a thicker filling, but it seemed to work okay. The filling layer was rather lacking in height but I piped on enough meringue to make up for it :) I personally rather liked this pie, I think because of my vanilla oopsie and also because the meringue (to me anyway) was rather good. And no weeping meringue, which is always nice!

And I'm apologizing now for the terrible pictures! I refused to use my flash but it was dark dark dark outside when I finished these tarts, so my pics are off-colored and a wee bit grainy. I promise to use daylight to my full advantage next time.

Lemon Meringue Pie
(from Wanda's Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver)

For the Crust:
3/4 c. cold butter; cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. ice water
For the Filling:
2 c. water
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. 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.

Free-Style Lemon Tartlets
Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF.
Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks. Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.


Deborah said...

I love the picture where the curd is seeping out - it looks so delicious!

Jen said...

Looks great! Nice work on the challenge for this month.

Jen said...

Looks great! Nice work on this month's challenge.

Anonymous said...

Great looking free-form tarts!

Gretchen Noelle said...

How great that you were able to make a lemon meringue then! Citrus curd...first time I made one and i am dreaming up more ideas now! yum! Your pie looks very nice!

Emily said...

Your pics look fine, girly!
I think yours looks extra delicious, maybe because of your meringue. It's so swirly looking.

Anonymous said...

Great job on this month's challenge!

Dagmar said...

The tartlets look great! And as you say, sometimes mistakes are in your favour! :-)

Anonymous said...

How nice that your curd was surprisingly to your liking -- here's to happy accidents!

Erin said...

Looks gorgeous!

T’s Treats said...

I see nothing wrong with your pictures, they are beautiful!! I must figure out how you all take suck fantastic pictures. Your tarts look great, I am so going to have to try the free form tarts ;)

Dianne's Dishes said...

Your meringue looks fabulous! :)

Carla said...

Yum! And I totally understand about not wanting to use the flash but your pics, with the flash, look great!

kate said...

love your swirly meringue!


Jenny said...

Beautiful pie! Looks delicious!

Dolores said...

I have the same issues you do with metallic curd; thanks for the vanilla tip! And I'm with Deborah... the oozing curd caught my attention... yum!

Big Boys Oven said...

oh look so thin and yet so gorgeous, I am really drooling about it!

Jenny said...

Your tarts look lovely, even in the dark.

Phoenix Ascending said...

Very nice tarts. Congrats on your challenge.

Sarah said...

Looks great. Congrats on your second challenge!

Peabody said...

I love the swirls of your meringue.

breadchick said...

Seeping out curd or not, the tarts look delicious. Great job on the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Your meringue looks gorgeous!

Fruit tart said...

I love your piped meringue!

Lunch Buckets said...


Jen Yu said...

I think the tarts look terrific! Very delicious photos - especially with the oozing curd.... :)

creampuff said...

Interesting point on the vanilla. I'll have to try "overpouring" next time. Nice job!

Unknown said...

So cute...it's like little lemon meringue pie crackers! So fun!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job!