Monday, January 28, 2008

Pie in the Sky - A Daring Baker's Challenge

Being a Daring Baker and all I participated in this month’s challenge of Lemon Meringue Pie other wise known as Ferengi Pie in our geeky household. This kind of pie is also known as Calf Slobber Pie in my mom’s house … I guess that makes sense as we’ve always raised cattle and meringue looks a lot like baby calf slobbers. We’re an odd bunch around here.

I’ve made my fair share of lemon pies in the past but this recipe was a first. I loved, with a deep and lasting passion, the pie crust in the recipe. It was A) easy-peasy, B) a dream to roll out, and C) didn’t melt during blind baking. I will be keeping this crust recipe in my archives for the many pies of the future.

The filling went together as planned. The one serious glitch in the whole procedure was my lovely husband jumping in to snag a “taste” at very inopportune occasions, i.e. the raw but warmed egg yolks with just a touch of the cornstarch mixture. That totally threw me off my game. The filling seemed to be thicker than wallpaper paste but not so grasshopper!

The actual meringue was a beautiful thing to behold. In fact it was my son’s favorite thing about the whole process. You just can’t beat a comment like, “Gee, Mom, is that alien pie?!?” That’s a mighty big compliment from a 9-year-old. Once baked the whole pie was a veritable picture of a country diner’s pie special of the day.

Alas, for all this pie’s exterior beauty, once cut the filling was a tad bit runny. I blame it on the family’s haste to take a bite, honestly. The bloody thing wasn’t even room temp yet! That not withstanding, we enjoyed it but thought that lemon tart was more our style. Meringue is cool to look at and little crispy ones are fun to eat but meringue on pie, well, just not for us after all.

Many thanks to Jen of the Canadian Baker blog for this month’s selection. I am in your debt for introducing me to a fabulous pie crust that I will use from now on. Bake on!

Lemon Meringue Pie
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.


Foodie Froggy said...

I don't understand why there are no comments here : your pie is absolutely gorgeous ! It is one of the nicest this month !

ostwestwind said...

I am impressed: What a great looking pie, congraturlations

Dharm said...

Ah Kim... Hmmm lovely your pie looks!! I'm not only a Trekkie but a Star Wars geek too! May the Force be with you and Live long and prosper!

Carla said...

I agree about the crust. It was really easy and almost like a shortbread. Super delicious. Your pie looks gorgeous!

DawnsRecipes said...

Alien pie! Love the comment from your son! I thought mine looked like something from Whoville!

Deborah said...

It's so good that you found a great pie crust from this challenge. Your finished pie looks great!

DK said...

Your Crust is an absolute winner! I am yet to learn to flute the crusts properly! Yours luk so perfect.Lovely luking pie :)

Colette said...

I can't get over how beautiful you pie crust looks! Beautiful job!

Andreia Sousa said...


Tanks for your nice comment on my pie. Your's is lovely. Well done!

Suzana said...

Kim, your pie looks awesome! I know all about hubbies who show up in the kitchen just NOT to help!! Wished I could send you some lemons - I don't know anymore what to do with all I have atm!
Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a nice comment. :)

CB said...

Your pie looks fab! Love how perfect your fluting is. Great job!

Quellia said...

Your pie is lovely, with that wonderful edge to the crust. Nice work!

Anonymous said...

Your calf's slobber pie is gorgeous! :)

glamah16 said...

Really great job! Its nice when the household gets into it and appreciates the efforts.

KayKat said...

I *love* the crust, absolutely love it, looks so awesome!

Half Baked said...

I think you pie is beautiful. Nice job!

Andrea said...

That is just gorgeous!! You did a lovely job on the pie!

Ferengi pie...teehee! :-)

Dolores said...

Beautiful job this month Kim... I love the care you took with forming the pie crust. And thanks also for the vocabulary lesson. :)

Maggie said...

thanks for your nice comments on my blog! Your pie looks really great, nice fluting.

Big Boys Oven said...

your pie look so adoring! must be delicous!

Lunch Buckets said...

I loved the crust too - and your pie looks perfect!

Claire said...

Beautiful! Alien...don't know about that. I, too, loved this crust. It appears that some people did have melting with theirs, but mine turned out great...just liked yours!

creampuff said...

Such beautiful pictures and such a pretty pie!

eatme_delicious said...

Beautiful pie! I need to try and get my crust to turn out like yours!

Cynthia (View from the Kitchen) said...

That's beautiful. I really love the way you tweaked your crust on the pie. Lovely!