When I joined the Daring Bakers in September I was slightly worried that the challenges put forward might be too tasking to fit into my crazy schedule, but so far, the hosts have been very benign. The good thing also is that so far, I haven't had to make anything I didn't enjoy, so of course I approached it with a bit more enthusiasm than I would, say, beetroot tartlets.
This month's challenge was lemon meringue pie - I have actually made one before, albeit with a completely different recipe. I also had the problem of the meringue sweating not even an hour into its short life, which didn't matter taste wise, but wasn't a pretty sight. Not this time. The pie held its shape for hours (well, until we couldn't hold back any more and had to polish it off) and I was thoroughly impressed as my daughter declared her love for it - anything involving lemon and peel is not necessarily something that ranks high up the list of children's favourite food, but maybe that's just a sign of her growing up.
Jen's (Canadian Baker) recipe was very different from what I used the first time round and I have to say I enjoyed it much more. My original version used tons of eggs and cream for the filling, whereas this pie here works entirely with water, cornstarch and lemon juice and, well, some sugar and some yolks. But it's such a lean version it's almost too healthy to eat... tastes much lighter and before you know it you've had three slices and you don't even worry about it ending up on your hips. Definitely a keeper!
PS: The below recipe is almost a straight copy from the challenge, with the cup measures converted into metric weights. Also, my meringue was brown after just 6 or 7 minutes, so I have adjusted the time accordingly.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust:
180 g (¾ cup) cold butter; cut into ½-inch
(1.2 cm) pieces
340 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
60 g (¼ cup) granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
80 ml (⅓ cup) ice water
For the Filling:
475 ml (2 cups) water
220 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
70 g (½ cup) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
60 g (¼ cup) butter
150 ml (¾ cup) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
150 g (¾ cup) granulated sugar
For 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 ⅛ inch (3 mm). 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 ½ 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.
For 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.
For 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 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
Pie recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
Tartlet recipe courtesy of Ripe for Dessert by David Lebovitz, 2003