Monday, January 28, 2008

Two Times the Fun -- the DB Lemon Meringue Pie

One of my earliest cooking memories is watching my grandmother make a lemon meringue pie. I recall standing on a chair next to the stove, watching her putting bits of butter into the lemon filling, and, of course, being the good child I was, asking Why?! Pies are my favorite dessert, and of all the flavors, lemon meringue is the best. So, when Jen from The Canadian Baker announced that the January challenge would be my favorite pie, I was excited. Plus, it didn't hurt that I have 2 Meyer lemon trees in the backyard, just begging to be harvested.

The biggest challenge for me was using different recipes for both the pie crust and the filling, since I've been baking this pie for many years.

Round 1:
The crust took the longest time because of all the waiting for chilling time.

While it wasn't difficult, it did shrink somewhat during baking, in spite of my being very careful not to stretch the dough (new dough, new feel) and using my pie weights. I wasn't thrilled with the texture or the thickness, so it's unlikely I will use it in the future.

The filling came next. Again, straightforward, although many other bakers in this challenge had
issues with the texture.

Finally, I prepared the meringue, being careful to beat it just long enough. Once assembled, the pie went back into the oven for browning. I watched the pie during this part, since I didn't want burnt meringue. The end result produced a delicious pie with no weeping, not even on my part, and it lasted several days in the refrigerator without deteriorating.

All in all, it was a successful challenge, but I just felt I could do better, so I challenged myself to tweak the recipe a bit to improve it.

Round 2:
This time, I used my own pie crust recipe, adding sugar and using half butter and half vegetable shortening for taste and texture. Instead of one pie, I made 6 tarts, deciding on a free-form, sort of flowery design. While the oven was heating, the tart shells were in the freezer.

For the filling, I combined the egg yolks, cold water, sugar, and cornstarch in a pan, then cooked the mixture until thickened. It's a simple method and the egg yolks are cooked without being scrambled. Once thickened, the butter was added in bits, then the remaining ingredients.

I made no changes to the meringue, although I prepared it before I cooked the filling so it would be ready to go.

This time, I piped it onto the tarts, and the final results were even better than round 1, with no weeping, no leaking, no shrinking.

In the end, the two versions tasted exactly the same, although the second one was easier to make and more reliable. Thanks to Jen for a delicious challenge For the recipe, go to Jen's blog site. Check out the results from all the other bakers who were daring enough to try a lemon meringue pie.

PS: After 2 days, these little tarts are still holding their own -- no soggy crust, no oozing of any kind. Only one more left. (Ignore the bite marks)


Anonymous said...

Both versions look wonderful! Meyer lemons are the best, aren't they?

Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" said...


Your pie and tarts are simply gorgeous. I really like your free form flower tartlets. The presentation is very light hearted and made me think of Spring. Great job!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Helene said...

Beautiful job! I love how the minis turned out, almost like daisies!

Deborah said...

I love your experiment. And it's always good to have an easier and more reliable way to do things. They both look amazing!

Angel said...

Fantastic Job!!! I think the tartlets are so cute. Like little flowers just waiting to be devoured.

Naomi Devlin said...

Those little tarts really do look like flowers. I think all the baby tarts were more successful - not so much room for that crazy filling to turn into lava! Although I see you were one of the lucky ones who managed to avoid weeping (meringue and tears). Well done!

Miss Ifi said...

Your big pie and your tartlets look amazing!! Congratulations on a challenge well done.. your crust looks sooo beutiful.. yuum!!

Simona Carini said...

My tartlets also lasted longer than expected without deteriorating. Your pie and tartlets look beautiful.

Dolores said...

Both versions are delightful... and I love the way you compared and contrasted both the methods and the outcome. Great job with this challenge!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Love those little tart. Great job!

Jen Yu said...

Oh my gosh, you have such nice loft in your LMP! And then to go and make tartelettes - wow! Great job!

Molly Loves Paris said...

Oh my gosh! Owning two Meyer Lemon Trees! Those pies must have tasted fantastic. I used Meyer Lemons, but they were $4 per pound. In heaven I think I shall have lemon trees in my back yard, along with fantastic apple trees. Your pies look really yummy. Pies are my favorite desserts also.

Lunch Buckets said...

Yeah, I got some lemon tree jealousy goin' on - but still can admit those are some gorgeous pies. Even if you are a bit of an over-achiever!

Unknown said...

You did a beautiful job. I'm glad to hear about the success of the second curd. I think it would be easier that way. Beautiful results!