Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Baker's Challenge: Lemon Meringue Pie

Finally I have something to post. Not that I have been deliberately avoiding my blog, but after the diabetic coma I was in post-holidays, I had to take a break from the baking. Plus, my arse wasn't getting any smaller. Or my husband's. Or my toddler's.

But the Daring Bakers call, and the call for the month was a Lemon Meringue Pie. Now, when I found out it was a lemon meringue pie, although I LOVE lemon meringue pie, I was a touch disappointed just because a) I have made these and find them rather simple to make and b) I think of LMP as a summertime dessert, not something for the 5 degree weather we've been enduring. But, when it's my turn to choose a challenge, I'm sure I'll come up with something that won't be everyone's cup o tea. And plus, now I have lemon meringue pie in the house, and that's never a bad thing.

I made tartlets instead of a pie, since I had some cute tartlet pans and have never made Lemon Meringue Tarts.

So I made the dough (thank God for the food processor) which was super easy to make and roll. I made my crusts first, they turned out just perfect.

Then I completed the filling, and there again, it came together perfectly. I think the trick to lemon curd is to know when the it is thick "enough" but not too thick while it is cooking on the stove. If it gets too thick, it gets glumpy and chewy. I look for a runny pudding consistency.

So I filled the tarts, made a gorgeous meringue, piped the meringue, everything was going along swimmingly. My children were on their stools saying "oooh, ice cream, ice cream!"...anything fluffy white and swirled equals ice cream in their worlds.

Before baking, I recalled that many of the Daring Bakers were having a problem with this lemon curd actually setting. Many said it was too runny even after being baked. So I looked at the baking time suggested, then looked at my traditional LMP recipe's baking time, which was much longer but at a lower temperature (300 degrees F). So, dummy that I am, I thought it would be a good idea to do the longer bake at a lower temperature.

Well, they baked up beautifully, they taste great, but the meringue hardened and cracked. LMP is NOT supposed to have hardened and cracked meringue. And no LMP that I've ever made has turned out that way. I simply had them in the oven too long, and I think that since I had a lot less meringue on each tartlet than I would have had on a whole pie, the meringue hardened. It kind of tastes like a meringue cookie on top of the lemon curd. But the lemon curd cooked beautifully, and the cookie-esque crust tastes delicious. Lesson learned, next time don't listen to the other people, just follow the recipe as is.

Speaking of which, here is the recipe:
Check out the other results of the Daring Bakers here.

Lemon Meringue Pie
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.

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.


FoodieFroggy said...

They look beautiful ! A Cracked meringue ? Who cares !

Nikki57 said...

Meringue cookies on top sound good to me!

Katie said...

You got a great swirl on the top of your meringue. I expect the contrast of cripsy topping and fluffy meringue underneath was great.

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

The tartlets look great and I wouldn't care about crackd meringue :-) I have to admit that I was also a bit disappointed as I don't think that the recipe was challenging enough, but in the end it was fun anyway.

glamah16 said...

Looks mighty good to me. You have to butter those tins!

Katia said...

I know you did not intend on the meringue crystalizing atthe edges- but it looks very yummy nonetheless. I love the edges when they are a little chewy and caramelized. The little tarts look great!

LP said...

Well you may not love Lemon Meringue, but it seems to like you just fine. Just lovely looking!

Lesley said...

Yes, buttering the tartlet tins would work great (I had some sticking issues). I didn't think it would be necessary because of the buttery crust, but helas...

And I do love Lemon Meringue misgiving was that I have made them many times before and was looking for something new. SO I tried the tartlets and look what happened!

Angel said...

I think your tartletts look cute and tasty. I'm glad you decided to do the challenge even if not one of your favorites.

Kevin said...

A crisp cookie meringue topping sounds good as well.

S. said...

Looks gorgeous! And I feel you on the whole 'not a favorite' thing. But DBers have to do what DBers have to do ; )

Carla said...

Beautiful! Even though you said the meringue cracked, I love the caramel color that you got all over.

Laura Rebecca said...

Count me in with all the people who love your meringue swirl -- so lovely! (And, mmm, a meringue cookie on top of the lemon curd sounds like a great variation.)

Beth G. said...

WOW! Your meringue swirl is stunning!

Tracy said...

I actually think that meringue looks great. It reminds me of a perfectly toasted marshmallow! After seeing yours and all of the other Daring Bakers tartlets, I really want some tartlet pans of my own.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Lesley, you do make me smile. My first few challenges, I thought I knew better. Finally I've wised up. Now I can say following the recipe has truly brought me great learning and great experience but not always perfection.
Great meringue!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great job! Your meringue topping looks wonderful!



Half Baked said...

Your LMP tartlettes look beautiful! Nice job!

Maryann said...

Hi Lesley!Cracked, schmacked..haha They look fine :)

Deborah said...

I think it looks wonderful - despite the cracked meringue!

Annemarie said...

I'd be interested to hear what your normal LMP recipe is. They look lovely and, frankly, as long as the curd is good you're onto a winner. Hope it wasn't too tart for the little ones - I made a 3 year old cry by thinking she was getting something sugary and sweet and wonderful.

KayKat said...

Ya, this pie definitely didn't scrimp on the eggs or butter, but it was a blast to make, huh? Yours looks great, congratulations!

Dhanggit said...

oh my i love those meringue!!they look deliciously crispy :-)

BC said...

Meringue cookie topping sounds very good!

BitterSweet said...

Hey, I see nothing wrong with extra-crunchy meringue. It adds interest and texture to the dish, right? ;) Nice job on the challenge!

Dolores said...

I'm with those intrigued by the crunchy meringue... even if it was an accident, it *sounds* good. Great job with January's challenge!

Peabody said...

Looks like you did a great job.

michelle said...

Now that's some serious meringue! Great job! The crack just adds character! ;)

Tartelette said...

You are going to think I am crazy but I wished I had a post in the oven for hard favorite to eat from the shops back home. Great job on the challenge, as always!

Lunch Buckets said...

I like it! Cracks means it's crisp :)

Quellia said...

Beautiful looking tarts!
How did your children like the "ice cream"?

Claire said...

Your meringue oes look like ice cream!!!

Anita said...

That's a beautiful meringue! And yes, just because it's cracked doesn't mean you can't turn it into another just as delicious dessert!

creampuff said...

We're so glad that you made it back for the challenge! Beautiful pie!