Monday, January 31, 2011

lemon meringue pie

michael and i are going on vacation in july with his family to maine and as a thank you to his parents, we made them a lemon meringue pie (his step dad's favorite).  i had been meaning to try this recipe out for a while after michael made a lemon blueberry tart one day over the summer.  i just really love lemon curd, or more specifically i love lemons.  given the opportunity i will happily eat a lemon like an orange.  nom nom nom.  anyways, the pie crust recipe i wasn't too crazy with the results compared to the normal recipe my mom taught me.  it tasted good, but i just find the way i learned to be a bit easier.  one day i will make a post about it i hope.  my favorite part of the pie was the meringue of course, because i just love seeing little vanilla bean flecks.  as i near the bottom of my first vanilla extract i made, the more vanilla bean flecks appear in my baking.  it's awesome.  the next vanilla extract jar was made with tahitian vanilla beans & bourbon so i am curious to see if it will taste any different.  i also just ordered some bourbon vanilla beans that i plan to use for the next vanilla extract round with vodka.  basically i just wait for something to go on sale at beanilla and then order 10 of them.  if you haven't checked out beanilla you should as i haven't been able to find a better deal on vanilla beans anywhere else.

i should also mention that there should be more meringue on top of the pie, but i cheated and made 3 mini tarts for michael, my mom and i.  i just couldn't resist.  i found the recipe from the daring baker's blog archive and after reading how many successful pies came out of this recipe it seemed foolproof.

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.

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