When I saw that the recipe for the month was lemon meringue pie I thought terrific, that will be easy. But I wasn't at it long before it didn't really seem that way. The problem was that I got ahead of myself. When I had the dough made and in the refrigerator I began the filling. Well I should have made the pie crust in the morning so that it was properly cooled by the time I wanted to put the filling into it. So in the end, when we had guests waiting for pie it hadn't yet chilled enough in the refrigerator and was a bit sloppy to get out. But we all enjoyed it anyway.
I used a very large Emile Henri pie plate that I bought at Carrefour just outside of Paris for about $12, which is an absolute steal. Getting it home was not easy, and I accidently chipped it a few months ago (which pained me, but oh well). It measures 10 inches on the bottom. Now I don't know what they measure when they say the size of a pie plate, but I think this pie plate could have held twice the filling and been okay. Communicating exactly is so difficult.
I actually had a near disaster with the meringue. The egg whites were most definitely at room temperature so they whipped up faster than expected and just as I was about to add the sugar a daughter walked into the room eager to tell me something. When I finally turned back to the mixer to add the sugar the whites were done. So I quickly added the sugar, but I didn't want to over mix. So the results of that was that the sugar was just a bit crunching to the taste in the meringue. We all noted this when eating the pie, but we didn't think it was such a bad thing.
We didn't have a full compliment of eaters because it was soooooo cold outside. I totally understood. So it was Riley and I and our most epicurean friends Ken and Marilyn. We all agreed that the pie was delicious, but it did not get the mmmmmmms that the bostini cream pie got. Partly because everyone preferred my usual pie crust, and partly for some other reason that we couldn't think of at the time. The next day a had just a taste of the pie to think about it and I realized that what made the pie unusual to the taste was the vanilla. Nothing wrong with it, but when added to a pie that you've eaten many times before with out vanilla it is a bit unusual and puzzling to the taste.
Recipe evaluation: It really was very tasty, and with correct timing - get the crust all made ahead of time - it wasn't that hard to make. I had been very wary of using 1/2 cup of cornflour, but it didn't cause any problem. I liked how the crust handled in rolling it out, but I would maybe add just a tad more salt. It was just a little lacking in flavor. When we ate the pie before it was completely chilled the filling was a bit more pudding like than desired and their was a little bit of runniness of the pie. But when it was good and chilled the next day these problems were gone. I don't think I would ever add the vanilla again. I cooked the pie at 325 degrees because I really thought 375 was too hot. It just wasn't my thing to chance burning the pie after all my efforts. My pie plate seemed a bit large, so I would just try another one or increase the filling. I didn't use all of the pie crust. In my opinion that was enough for a two crust 9 inch pie. I used maybe 3/5 of the dough and made a small tart shell with the rest of the dough. I didn't make the little tartlets and I would like to in the future. They sounded so cute.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust: use only 3/5 if you don't want a heavy crust
• 3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
• 2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour (6 ounces)
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar (3 Tbl)
• 1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt (same)
• 1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water (3.5 tbl)
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:
1. Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan.
2. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes.
3. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
4. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick.
5. 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.
6. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated.
7. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined.
8. Pour into the prepared crust.
9. 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 325ºF . 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.