Monday, 28 January 2008
I "HEART" Lemon Meringue Pie
From the time I could appreciate the niceties of life, Lemon Meringue Pie has been one of my most favouritest things! (Yes, I know, that's really not a word) I have fond memories of racing home from school at lunch time, absolutely starved, and discovering to my delight that my mother had made a delicious Lemon Meringue Pie for our dessert. Anything else on the menu paled in comparison. Served ice cold and sitting on our plates in lovely thick slices, it's delicious lemony filling all covered in a sticky, sweet mountain of lucious browned merigue, it was all we could do to wait until dessert to dig in. This was a real treat for us, as we usually only had dessert for special occasions. Mind you lemon pie made any occasion special in our books!
Until I became an adult and ventured out into the world, this was Lemon Meringue pie to me. Yes, I'm ashamed to say . . . it came in a box. This was the only kind my mother ever made. I didn't know there was any other kind. When she made it, it was a rare treat, and oh how I loved to be invited to scrape the pot clean when she was done! (A very rare occurence when you are one of three children vying for the honour!) My brother, being the youngest did not get his in a pie. My mother thought that pastry was too hard for a young stomach to digest, and so he got a bit of the filling mixed with some milk into a creamy pudding and served up in a little coloured melamine bowl.
As a young newly wed, I can remember making a Lemon Meringue Pie for my dear husband for the very first time. I was so proud of it . . . and so very dissappointed when, after one bite, he declared to me that this was not lemon meringue pie! What the heck???? His mother had always made her lemon pies from scratch and this was definitely not it! Thankfully, my mother in law was kind enough to write down all her recipes for me in a little pink flowered notebook, so I was soon able to produce a lemon pie for him that fulfilled his idea of what a Lemon Meringue Pie was, but sadly . . . it did not fit in with my recollections or fill my desires for a lemon pie. Her's , while nicely flavoured with lemon, was far too sweet for my tastes. There was none of that delightful lemony tang that I loved so much. It was back to the mixes for me, although I did make an occasional one like my mother in law's just to please the other half of the equation.
I was delighted this month to find out that the Daring Baker's Challenge for the month was Lemon Meringue Pie, but could it, would it, how could it possibly come even close to the one my mother used to create from that lovely little yellow and blue box?
As usual I left the challenge to the last minute. I kept buying lemons and then they would get used for something else . . . or I would be so busy at work that I didn't have enough time to spend at home to make one. Finally today I had the whole day to spend, and enough lemons in the house to do it, and so I got stuck in to the challenge. I have to say I am more than pleased with the results! This pie is fabulous! I'm not sure if this is an insult or not, but it is very close to the ones my mother used to make. Actually, if anything, it's even better!!! (and that is saying a lot!)
The recipe was very easy to follow and I really enjoyed making it. To be perfectly honest the glutton in me could not even wait for it to cool down before digging in to it's lucious lemon goodness! As you can clearly see I chose to make four individual pies. (In all truth each one was quite enough to satisfy two appetites as, I could barely get past half of the one I started and had to give it to Todd to finish)
Many thanks to Jen of The Canadian Baker for this most delicious and satisfying challenge. They say the proof is in the eating . . .
I think I'd rate this one a success! Thanks Jen for a most enjoyable way to spend a cold sunny day in January . One down, only three pies to go . . . now where's my fork?
*Lemon Meringue Pie*
from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie or 6 tartlets
For the Crust:
175 grs - 3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
250 grs - 2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
50 grs - 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
200 grs - 1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
60 grs - 1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
60 grs - 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest1 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) salt1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
150 grs - 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. (I confess, I did not do it this way. I brought the water to a boil in the kettle. I mixed the cornstarch and sugar together in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Once they were well mixed I whisked in the hot water, and then proceeded as stated in the rest of the recipe instructions)
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.