Monday, 28 January 2008

Daring Bakers January Challenge – Lemon Meringue Pie(s)

This month’s culinary challenge was chosen by Jen from The Canadian Baker and I was thrilled when she announced it was to be lemon meringue pie. I love lemon meringue pie and but haven’t eaten one for a number of years. Just thinking of the tangy lemon filling topped with clouds of sweet fluffy meringue takes me right back to my childhood. After dinner on Sundays, my mother would always produce a special homemade dessert and lemon meringue pie was one of my favourites. Unfortunately we didn’t have it all that often as my siblings refused to eat any form of dessert that didn’t include the word ‘chocolate.’ So I was delighted at this months challenge yet also slightly daunted, would I be able to recreate a dish that lived up to my childhood memories?

The lemon pie involves three separate components that are all prepared and then assembled together and baked. A pastry crust, a lemon filling and a meringue topping. We were free to choose the size of the pies we made and I decided to make miniature ones using a muffin tin, rather than a traditional large pie.

The crust came together well and I was able to stamp out my 12 pastry rounds from the first rolling, which was good as it meant I didn’t overwork the dough by having to re-roll it. However, I only used about two-thirds of the pastry and so I rolled the excess into a ball and froze it for future use.

The lemon curd filling involved a little more work, but this was down to the work involved rather than it being difficult. The recipe called for 180ml of lemon juice but I ended up with just under 150ml after juicing my bag of 4 lemons and so had to go with that. It didn’t seem to affect the lemon flavour too much, which was still very prominent. A word of advice when it comes to grating/juicing lemons. If you wash them or have wet hands then remember to dry them before attempting to slice them, or you may suffer the consequences. I attempted to cut a wet lemon in half using a big sharp knife and…well lets just say I ended up cutting something else – ouch! As I made miniature pies I also ended up with too much lemon curd (can you see a pattern emerging?) but I was more than happy about this, as the curd was so wonderfully tangy and bursting with citrus twang that I could quite happily have stood there and eaten the lot on its own, but instead I chose to bottle it and I now have now have a lovely jar of homemade lemon curd in the fridge – yum!

The topping was quick and easy to prepare and I ended up with an absolute mountain of meringue. If you want to make little pies I suggest you halve the meringue recipe below.

I was delighted with how the pies turned out. They stuck slightly to the sides of the tin but I found running a greased knife around the edge before attempting to remove them from the tin helped. I think they look very cute and just the right size for sharing around easily. My pastry could probably have done with a little extra cooking as it wasn’t that crisp, but the meringue topping was lovely and fluffy, their airy bubbles dissolve on your tongue in a matter of moments. My favourite part of the pie, by far, was the lemon curd filling – oh it’s just dreamy! Silky smooth, yet thick so that it coats your tongue and tingles your taste buds with a burst of tangy lemoniness that made me swoon. I think next time I may forgo the meringue and just add extra filling, I can’t praise it enough, I’m salivating just thinking about it. All in all the pies lived up to my childhood memories, although my mum still holds the edge when it comes to pastry. Thanks Jen for choosing such a divine pie.

Check out the Daring Bakers Blog Roll to read about fellow Bakers pies.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10inch pie or lots of mini ones
For the pastry crust
165g cold butter
275g plain flour
50g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
80ml cold water

For the lemon curd filling
475ml water
150g caster sugar
40g cornflour
5 egg yolks
55g butter
180ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest (around 1 lemon)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the meringue topping
5 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
120g caster sugar

For the pastry
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 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 lemon curd
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 meringuePreheat 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, although it’s still delicious eaten the following day too.

43 comments:

Dolores said...

Isn't it funny how the recipes that evoke the strongest childhood memories are often the most intimidating? I'm glad you were able to overcome your fears with this one... your mini pies are adorable!

FoodieFroggy said...

Good idea for these mini-tartlets, they are very cute.

Dharm said...

Your pies look just great! Well Done!

myriam said...

oh next time i have to make little ones like you, too! they look wonderful!

Angela said...

They look wonderful!

Isn't it funny how Lemon Meringue Pie is a childhood memory for so many people? Classic British pud, I guess :)

Babeth said...

congratulations my "daring friend" ;-)
your pie look lovely!!

Katia said...

Your little pies are look very nice. Great idea to use a muffin tin! :)

slush said...

They are adorable. I am loving all the mini pies. Too cute!!

Meeta said...

Cool idea to make these in a muffin pan! They look great! Well done!

Dee Light said...

My favorite!!! Yours look yummy.

marye said...

Fantastic! I love how the little pies came out

Big Boys Oven said...

this is incredible salivating pie, i like it!

lina said...

They look so yummy! Using a muffin tin is a great idea, but how did you ever get them out of it without breaking them? (I'm sure I would.) Great work!

Gigi said...

Fantastic mini pies! They absolutely delicious.

culinography said...

Oh so cute! Great job!

Lesley said...

I love how you did this in a muffin pan. Great idea.

I(dot)J said...

Great job. Looks great!
Iisha

Baking Soda said...

Love the way the pies look in that muffin pan, too cute! I was afraid they wouldn't come out whole but you managed!

Deborah said...

Your mini tarts are lovely!

Annemarie said...

Oh how I loved the curd as well. I would have been happy with twice the amount and twice as large a spoon and nothing else in front of me. The mini pies are just lovely.

S. said...

Ummm... SO CUTE!

I'm in love.

Mary said...

Your little tarts are so cute! I really liked the filling too.

Elle said...

So glad you were daring and went for it this month. Clever of you to make the tarts in muffin tins...adorable. That curd looks so yummy!

Jenny said...

Love these in the cupcake tins! They look sooo cute!

Princess of the kitchen said...

Very pretty tarts. Well done!

Barbara said...

Lemon Meringue Pie is part of my childhood memories too. Your mini ones look delightful.

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on the lemon meringue pie. I'm so glad you got to make a recipe that you remembered so vividly from your youth.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Candace said...

Nice looking mini tartlets!

DaviMack said...

Beautiful - am wishing that I had a muffin tin, so that I could follow your example! Glad it all worked out!

creampuff said...

They're just adorable! Great job!

Lunch Buckets said...

At first I was thinking "how in the world did she get those out of that pan" and then I started thinking about how fun it would be to sit outside with a muffin tin full of mini pies and a fork. But that's just me!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your mini-tartlets look gorgeous! Mmmhh, that last picture is a real torture... Well done!

Cheers,

Rosa

Peabody said...

Your mini pies turned out fabulous...so glad you are a fan of the curd.

Tempered Woman said...

Yeah for CupPies! I agree, the lemon curd was yummy. I was suprised by how many people didn't seem to like it. And I can't believe you even fluted your little guys. Great work~

breadchick said...

Love the little "muffin" tarts!

Claire said...

That looks just wonderful! I'm loving all these mini tarts.

BrineS said...

Great job with the lemon meringue tartlets.

zorra said...

Your LMPs look so cute!

Jen Yu said...

Oh my gosh, how cute are those?! I love the little crusts sitting happily in the tins. Awesome job - they look delicious :)

Cheryl said...

Your little meringue pies are awesome. Your curd color is so beautiful.

Brilynn said...

Everything's cuter in mini form! Looks great!

Anita said...

So cute! I love how they are peeking out of the tins!

Tartelette said...

Fabulous job! That last shot makes me hungry for one all over again!