Thursday, January 31, 2008

Daring Bakers - Lemon Meringue


I don't officially start with the Daring Bakers until February. But I checked to see what everybody did for January and just had to do it myself. January's choice was lemon meringue pie. I had been meaning to make a lemon pie anyway. After all, last week was National Pie Day and I just happen to have a laden lemon tree in my back yard. Also, I had never made a meringue pie before because I wasn't too interested in making meringue. But that's the beauty of the challenges - they challenge!
How the Daring Bakers work is that every month a challenge is given. Someone gets to select a recipe that everyone has to make. They all have to make THE SAME recipe and then document it on their blog. All blogs have to be posted on a certain date.

I was at a bit of an advantage because I looked at other participant's blogs and read about their trials and errors. I also knew there were tricks to meringue so that it wouldn't weep.
I made the crust first. I altered the recipe a bit because I used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. I've just been using whole wheat in pretty much everything these days. I found the crust to be the biggest challenge because I found it excessively crumbly. But using my Pampered Chef Bakers Mat and Bakers Roller, I managed to get a crust the size of my PC Stoneware Pie Plate. I don't own any pie weights, so I used beans. Then I covered the rim with the Pie Crust Shield and baked it.
Everyone said it was important that the crust be completely cooled. So that is why I made it after work and before I went to the gym. I took the extra crust and put jam on it and baked that. My grandma used to do that for us when I was kid and so I still do it as an adult.

I came home and went and picked some lemons. I knew from the internet that the key to the prevention of 'weeping' was that the pie filling should be hot when the meringue was put on top of it. That way it starts to cook the underside of the meringue and I guess helps to seal for moisture. So I decided I would need to have everything ready and quickly do the filling and meringue. I separated my eggs with my Egg Separator and had both parts ready. Then I got all the other ingredients ready. This included juicing and zesting the lemons. Oh, how I love my Pampered Chef tools. Used my Juicer and my Microplane.








After getting the meringue items ready (including the mixer, etc.), I started the filling on the stove. I had read that others found their fillings too runny, so I tried to keep it cooking and thickening as long as I could. At the point that you add the butter, I was stirring it with my left hand and had started whipping the meringue with my right. I decided to only use half a cup of lemon juice since others had complained about the runny filling. As I finished the both the meringue and the filling, I poured the filling into the crust and then immediately topped it with my meringue. Then into the oven.

I'm pretty impressed with my finished meringue.

Some others had commented that they had never made a lemon curd before. I actually have a really easy recipe that is done in the microwave. So I'm adding that microwave lemon curd post. Of course, that curd is a spreadable curd for scones, etc. So it isn't supposed to be 'stand up' thick.

Next Day Taste Test -
Well I guess I might have goofed. I had let the pie cool about half way, but not completely, when I put it in the frig for the night. The pie needed to cool and set before serving. Today I opened the frig to find that the meringue had shrunk and cracked. I cut myself a piece (good breakfast, huh) and found that my filling was also runny. Even with the less lemon juice and cooking it as long as I did. The taste was great, though. So, overall, I think that my product was good, it was the recipe that wasn't. I base this on all the other blogs I've been reading with similar results. So I will venture to make lemon meringue pie in the future, but with a new recipe.
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