Monday, January 28, 2008

Attack of the Pie!

So excited was I to cut into this pie, that I forgot to take a photo of it before the knife went in. Oops! It's too bad, too, because it all went downhill once I took out a slice! :) The Daring Bakers that got started early in the month warned us of weepy meringue or oozy filling... so I knew to prepare myself. What's interesting is that I was most worried about the meringue... I have way less experience with it. The curd, I thought, would be my friend, as I'd had a great time with the Alice Waters' curd I'd made around Christmas. Boy, was I fooled. :)
Before I get to the sordid details, I'd like to thank Jen of The Canadian Baker for choosing this month's theme. This pie was a lovely, bright way to brave our way through Winter. My pie might have looked a mess, but it was seriously delicious. Thanks, Jen!!

Now, on to the pie! I focused on the crust. I haven't had much luck making my own crust, so I had big, strong hopes that this one would work out. Let me tell you, I could have snacked on the raw pie crust all afternoon! It was sweet and tasty and just the right texture. After it's various rests, it baked up like a dream! I set it aside and went shopping. (What better way to let something cool?)

The instructions for the curd were different in nature than I was used to, but it came together nicely (or so I thought). I whisked and stirred and poured it into the cooled crust and sat it aside. (I don't think I went shopping... maybe played xbox?) When I felt like it was cool enough, I moved onto the meringue. I'd let my whites come to room temperature (for once - I almost never remember to do that) and added the extras and got foamy. Once it was ready, I "piled" it on, just like the recipe requested. Now, it started off taller, but I spent so much time decoratively smearing it around that it lost a little of its oomph. Let that be a lesson to you! :)

Once it baked to a nice golden hue, I set aside and got to making dinner. We had dinner and watched the NHL all-star game and I could barely contain myself - I WANTED PIE! Dave and I rushed out and cut into it (and it wasn't until after I cut into it that I realized I hadn't taken a picture of it!) and I could tell something wasn't quite right. It didn't put up as much fight as I'd thought it should... and when I pulled that first slice out, and saw how oozy it was... Bummer. The meringue held its shape, but the filling squirmed right out like the blob in that movie... The Blob... (lol)... not a total loss, we just spooned the filling onto our plates and dug in! A spoonful of tart filling, topped with airy meringue along with the yummy crust... heavenly. I have no other words. Yah, it didn't look like it was supposed to, but everything came together to make one delicious pie. What I will also take from this is that I needn't be worried about making my own crust OR meringue. (I just need to make sure I save these recipes in a good place!)

Thanks again to Jen and to all of the Daring Bakers. I am so happy to be a part of this supportive, hysterical, friendly bunch! Please take a trip around the Internet to see all of their amazing pies, tarts, and tartelettes!

Lemon Meringue Pie

(from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 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
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make 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 1/8 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 1/2 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.

To Make 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.

To Make 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.


Butta Buns said...

I'm chuckling at your title because I feel the same way! Mmmmm, the picture of the filling spilling into your pie pan is heavenly. I wouldn't be upset either and just start spooning it all up.

Deborah said...

I wonder what it is that made some of the fillings runny and some not. Mine stayed firm, but I don't know what I did differently!! Your pie does look great!

glamah16 said...

Its weird how these fillings vary!Nevertheless I'm sure it was good.

DaviMack said...

It's all about the flavor anyway, when it comes down to it. Good job anyway, and glad you had the sense to eat it no matter what it looked like!

Claire said...

Too bad the filling didn't hold. Strange how the textures vary from people to people. The outside looks wonderful.

I(dot)J said...

What saved me was 'not reading the recipe all the way through' (funny huh?) Basically I made the filling before the crust was even done 'chillin' in the fridge. So by the time it went into the oven and cooled completely, the filling (and meringue at this point) were all room temperature.
Still, good job.

chou said...

At least it tasted good, right!? I love your writing, it's like sitting with you over a cup of cocoa and laughing our heads off. :) BTW, I went to a great restaurant in Herndon over Christmas (Sweet Basil Kitchen). Yummy.

Tanya said...

I'm guessing that the problem with the runny curd is that the recipe says to chill to room temperature. I wound up chilling mine overnight and then not having time to warm it up again, and it set firmly. My meringue wouldn't shape nicely though!

Melanie said...

Runny or not - your pie looks great!! I had the watery effect on mine, darn it...better luck next time, I guess!

Miss Ifi said...

awww.. but the pie looked soo pretty. Still... CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR CHALLENGE!

Tartelette said...

I am bringing my spoon! It looks yummy to me, there is nothing better than a pool of lemon curd!
Great job!

joey said...

This is exactly how my pie turned out! Heehee...I felt I was reading my own words! :)

Mark said...

Hi Katie,

I can not find a contact email on your site, so I am leaving a comment instead.

A reader at Culinate has nominated you to enter into our Death by Chocolate contest for a trip to Napa in Feb. If you want to particpate, please feel free to go directly to the enter page, or feel free to send me an email at and I can send you info about the event and the food blogger contest portion.



wmpe said...

Your pie photos look great. I am glad it tasted great, too. Wendy

MamaB said...

My pie turned out the same way, I think I cooked the cornstarch to much at the beginning. But it sure did taste good.

Angel said...

Great job on your pie. I loved the taste of this months challenge. Great Job!!

Cheryl said...

You did a great job. And yes, I really do think we were separated at birth, we have so much in common. And I was watching the NHL all Star game too while doing this challenge.

Lunch Buckets said...

Looks aren't everything!

Jenny said...

My theory about the filling is the amount of time it was cooked, but who can tell. :)

Dolores said...

So you eat it from a bowl with a spoon, not from a plate with a fork... Just enjoy it! :)

Kristen said...

That looks delicious...attacking pie or not!

sher said...

It looks great to me, because I remember how delicious it was! I've always loved a sauce--and that's what it was!