Another month has come and gone so it's time for another installment of the Daring Baker challenge. Not familiar with the Daring Bakers? Well, we're a group of food bloggers who, once a month, make the exact same recipe and then blog about our experience with the recipe. Whether the experience is good, bad or somewhere in between, I always learn something new. A different baker plays host each month and chooses the recipe for the group to bake. Our hostess Jen of the Canadian Baker chose a classic lemon meringue pie for this month's challenge.
Now, if you're a regular reader of my little blog you may already know how much I adore lemons. With the relatively mild San Francisco climate my backyard tree provides me with meyer lemons all year round. So of course I would be making my lemon meringue pie with meyer lemons.
The crust was quick and easy even without using a food processor. I decided to use a 10-inch tart pan instead of a pie dish. Since my tart had a slimmer profile than a pie, I cut back on the amount of meringue. I think a pie could've handled a lofty, towering cloud of meringue, but I felt my tart only needed a small swirl of meringue.
Some of the bakers had some trouble getting their lemon filling to thicken so I was a bit concerned about making the filling. Even though meyer lemons are sweeter than other lemons, I still used the full amount of sugar in the recipe because I didn't want to mess with the proportions of sugar to eggs to cornstarch to lemon juice. Thankfully I had no problems with my filling at all. In fact, I had the opposite issue. I felt that the filling was a bit too stiff. If I had cut back on the sugar, I think it would've been even stiffer since sugar is considered a liquid ingredient. I could probably cut back a tiny bit on the cornstarch next time and still have nice clean slices that would hold their shape. But that was my only quibble with the recipe. Despite being too stiff, the lemon filling had a nice fresh and tart lemony flavor that went really well the butter crisp crust and sweet fluffy meringue.
I had some dough, filling and meringue left over so I made a couple small tarts. I decided to pipe the meringue tall and pointy. I also dug out my mini blow torch to brown the meringue. I'm no pyromaniac but taking a blow torch to your food is fun. A big thank you to hostess Jen for a fun challenge, to Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for starting this baking group, and to all the Daring Bakers who share, teach, learn, aspire and inspire.
Lemon Meringue Pie
From Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
(Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie)
~I guess mine would be a lemon meringue tart not a pie~
For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ 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
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) 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 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 ½ inches (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with 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 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.