Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie - week 29 of 52

Lemon meringue pie is one of my favourite desserts – I love sweet tartness of the lemon curd and the light fluffy meringue. I don’t have time to make these so the supermarket version is a substitute for homemade. However, the supermarket pies always seem to have some sort of artificial “gluiness” about the curd and the meringue not quite fluffy enough and a little tough.

This week’s recipe is courtesy of Anna Olsen and definitely one of my favourite from the foodie experiment so far! The lemon curd was fresh and tart, the pie crust a little crunchy & flakey and the meringue light as air that melts in your mouth! This recipe takes a little time so if you’re planning on serving for dessert after dinner, I would suggest starting to make it in the morning – there are many steps so patience is definitely required!

A couple of tips:

- Although Anna suggests using two knives to cut butter into the flour for the crust, I suggest getting a pastry blender, otherwise you will be at it for a while
- Keep an eye on the lemon filling while it is cooking, because it goes from thin and watery to thick very quickly! You don’t want the filling to stick to the pot
- I decreased the amount of sugar to 1 cup as I like my filling a little more tart than sweet
- When making the meringue use room temperature egg whites to get a lot of volume (cold egg whites don’t beat as well)
- I left out cornstarch from the meringue – I wasn’t sure how it was going to blend into the meringue (was it going to get lumpy?)
- I used superfine sugar vs regular granulated for the meringue - it will dissolve much more easily

I will definitely be making this pie again – this one’s a keeper!

Bon appétit!

Lemon Meringue Pie – courtesy of Anna Olsen


Rating (out of 5 stars) *****

Makes 1 x 9-inch pie

For crust
• 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 Tbsp sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• 2/3 cup unsalted butter, diced and chilled
• 1 large egg
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice

For filling
• 1 ¼ cups sugar
• 1 ½ cups water
• 5 Tbsp cornstarch
• 5 large egg yolks
• dash salt
• 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
• ½ cup fresh lemon juice
• 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

For meringue
• 5 large egg whites
• ½ tsp cream of tartar
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 Tbsp cornstarch

1. For crust, combine flour, sugar and salt. Cut in chilled butter until a rough crumbly texture and little bits of butter are still visible. In a small bowl, whisk egg and lemon juice. Pour all at once into flour mixture and combine just until dough comes together. Shape dough into a disc and chill for at least one hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400 °F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to just less than ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle a 9-inch pie shell with flour and line with dough. Tuck in rough edges and crimp (pinch) with your fingers. Put pie shell in freezer just for 10 minutes to rest and firm up. Once chilled, line pastry with aluminum foil (and have foil hang over crust edges to protect it) and weigh down with pie weights, dried beans or raw rice. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 °F and bake 15 minutes more. Remove aluminum foil and weights and bake 10 minutes more, to dry out center of the shell. Cool completely before filling.

3. For filling, whisk sugar, water, and cornstarch in a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Whisk in egg yolks and salt and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Increase heat to medium and, still whisking, cook until filling becomes glossy and thick, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and butter until butter dissolves. Pour immediately into cooled pie shell and let cool 15 minutes. Chill completely before finishing with meringue, about 4 hours.

4. For meringue, preheat oven to 350 °F. Whip egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. While whipping, gradually pour in sugar and whip on one speed less than highest until whites hold a stiff peak (the meringue stands upright when whisk is lifted). Whisk in cornstarch and dollop over chilled lemon filling. Use sweeping motions with your spatula to create swirls and peaks that look so enticing once browned. Bake pie for 10 minutes, just until meringue browns lightly. Let pie cool or chill until ready to slice

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