Lemon Meringue Pie (LMP) IS my favourite dessert. I will have it anytime, everytime if its on the menu. So when Jen, the Canadian Baker announced this month's Daring Baker challenge, I had to haul myself out of blogging semi-retirement and bake myself one of my beloved pie.
Weird how I have never attempted to make this myself. I guess I've been of the mind that if a good one could be had very easily, then why bother. LMPs are a staple at Sydney coffee shops and I am very easily pleased. If it's tangy and the meringue has a hint of a crunch, I would be appreciative.
Unfortunately, with all that's going on at home, I didn't get the chance to plan making my LMP out too well. I made it for a little get-together with friends for the Australia Day weekend. I was hoping to make tartlets and pipe the meringue on but I had to resort to just making a large pie and slather the meringue on top hoping this 'free-styling' would at least make the grade.
This pie was a bit tricky as I couldn't make it the night before the barbecue for fear of ending up with a soggy crust. As things panned out the morning of the party, I was still stirring the curd as my guests stood at the door. Oh well. Pile the curd on to the base. Have a little drink and nibbles with guests while waiting for filling to cool down. Whip up the meringue. With another glass of Chardy on hand, chat over the whirring of the stand mixer. Slap the meringue onto the crust with a palette knife (while trying to look competent in front of friends). Bung that pie into the oven. Have another drink and wish for the best....
A sad meringue. That's what I ended up with. It was so sad that it wept.
A few other Daring Bakers seemed to have had this problem. Despite following the suggestion of spreading the meringue right to the crust edge, I didn't escape the little pool of syrup that's been the bane of my fellow Daring Bakers. As for the taste? The crust was OK. It was biscuity but it would have been nice to have something a little bit more buttery, almost short-bread like. The filling was deliciously tart. The balance of sweet and sour was to my liking but there was something wrong with the consistency. It didn't cut smooth when I sliced the pie. Perhaps the 1.5 hours it sat in the fridge after baking just wasn't enough to set it properly. The meringue was well... meringue. I didn't get the crunch on the edges which I love from the LMP coffee-shop versions but my meringue top browned a little too quickly.
All in all, this pie was OK and I enjoyed the experience (albeit hurried and distracted) of making it. I would be trying other recipes, though, and try and get a better consistency for the filling.
Sorry for the lack of photos and for the poor quality of the only one I have. I had guests to entertain and by the time for dessert came around, my hands were already a little bit shaky from one glass of wine too many ;-)
Go and enjoy all the other LMPs out there by the Daring Bakers...
Lemon Meringue Pie
(from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
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 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 (.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.
Daring Bakers Extra Challenge: Free-Style Lemon Tartlets
(from "Ripe for Dessert" by David Lebovitz)
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.