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Monday, 28 January 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie - another Daring Bakers' Challenge

After having missed the Christmas Challenge of the Daring Bakers - Yule Log - I was really looking forward to joining in the fun with a lemon meringue pie. However, this pie almost wasn't meant to be. At least I've learned my lesson - never start a challenge without proper preparation, e.g. checking your pantry...

The day had started off with lots of running around in the quest of the perfect wedding dress. After several days spent with a fruitless search, I am now fully convinced that either you have to be willing to spend an insane amount of money or that you have to have a terrible sense of fashion in order to simplify this matter. Not to speak of the odd looks the shop assistants give you once you mention that you're about to tie the knot in a mere three months. Getting married seems not to be for the spontaneous at heart.

Still cursing under my breath, I set to work. There was no time to lose as this pie was to be eaten with a bunch of friends at an Australia Day bbq later in the day. However, I wasn't off to a good start. For the first time ever, I had run out of all-purpose flour without restocking immediately. And the level of the sugar jar was crucially low, too. Now one might think that simply going to the shops would be the sensible thing to do. Unfortunately, a couple of days ago, my handbag got snatched away and I'm still waiting for the replacement bank card to arrive. Meanwhile, I've got to plan ahead and ask my boyfriend for cash after hours. Needless to say, I hadn't been planning ahead and had run out of cash after buying a shirt for him (the only successful thing to come out of my shopping trip).

Thus, things had to be improvised. Feeling a little bad because following the recipe and learning from the experience is the whole reason for our online baking community, I started mixing bread flour, cornstarch, and sifted whole wheat flour - simply hoping for the best. Unfortunately, I hadn't thought of sticking the butter into the freezer so it came out of the fridge still somewhat pliable. This made for a relatively soft pastry so I omitted the ice water altogether out of fear ending up with a floury mush instead of proper shortcrust pastry. Prebaking also didn't work that well with some of the pastry sticking to the foil.

Luckily, when attempting the filling, things finally took a turn for the better. The lack of granulated sugar could be helped with an ample supply of icing sugar; and I successfully cooked the lemon-filling on the stove-top. While waiting for crust and filling to cool, I cleaned the kitchen; and then another obstackle turned up - on my doorstep, literally. Despite Australia Day and despite not being announced at all, two builders stood at the front door, demanding to be let in and to repair our smoke alarm. When the alarm had been checked a week earlier, the guy hadn't bothered to mention that there was something wrong with it and that I had to expect builders turn up basically any time. So, whilst they were busy doing whatever they had to do, I finished cleaning, whipped the meringue, finished the pie, started taking pictures, and we all tried not to feel too awkward and not to be in each other's way too much.

Eventually, I finished the pie and it was very well received at the bbq despite the crumbly crust. The lemon filling was very flavourful, not too sweet and not too tart. Right after cooking, it still had a starchy aftertaste but that vanished once fully cooled and set. The meringue held up nicely for a surprisingly long time; and the only thing I have to improve is making a proper crust. To be perfectly honest, however, if pressed for time and in possession of some good-quality lemon curd, I would probably opt for the short cut I did last month: These tartlettes were made with store-bought butter puff pastry and homemade lemon curd. With only the meringue to prepare, the little beauties took only a couple of minutes to make. However, I'm glad that I did the real thing for the first time - thanks to Jen of The Canadian Baker for choosing such a tasty recipe! Check out the results of the other Daring Bakers here!

Note: After comparing my conversion with the ones The Passionate Cook did, I realized that I used only 250g of flour (which explains that there was no need for any ice water) and I used more cornstarch and more lemon juice for the filling. Considering all this conversion trouble, I consider myself lucky that the crumbly crust was the only shortcoming of this challenge..;-)

33 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

your lemon pies look great! That pastry is nice and flaky! Well done!

Cheers,

Rosa

Meeta said...

Eva, fantastic idea using the Spring form. I really like the thick layer of lemon curd. Just gorgeous! Nice job!

Half Baked said...

Great job on completing the challenge while planning a wedding! Your LMP looks very tasty! Good luck with the dress search:)

Deborah said...

Your pie looks wonderful - even with having to improvise!!

And I just have to mention that I must have been lucky when shopping for my wedding dress - it was the 2nd dress I tried on and I fell in love with it! And it just happened to be one of the more inexpensive dresses in the shop!

Big Boys Oven said...

Lovely.... something I would like to taste!

Nora B. said...

Hi Eva,
I think that your pie looks gorgeous with the springform pan. And the crust looks melt-your-mouth crumbly despite having to improvise.

oh, I missed the Australia day bbq. Hope that you and T didn't have to leave early like last year, he never stopped talking about that ;-)

breadchick said...

Crumbly crust or not, your challenge pie looks great!!

Eva said...

Thanks, Rosa, I didn't expect any nice comments about my crumbly crust!

Thanks, Meeta, I thought the recipe managed to get the amounts of curd and meringue just right!

Half-Baked - I hope your wishes will help with the dress search - I need a lucky streak now!

Deborah, I envy you! This only happened to me when I was unconsciously grabbing the most expensive dress of the shop...

Thanks Big Boys Oven, but it's all gone already..;-)

Thanks Nora, I had a few doubts about the crust (the raw dough was quite tasteless) but now I think that the whole wheat flour provides a nice nutty flavour to balance all the sugar!
BTW, T still talks about it but this time we could stay until the end!

Eva said...

Thanks, Breadchick, so nice to hear that!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Eva this would be a perfect bbq pie at my house! So this crust that was crumbly had no water in it? Incredible.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Eva, I really thought you had altogether substituted a graham cracker crust for the base. That is what it looks like to me...not bad at all! Glad you overcame all of your challenges to make a beautiful pie!

ostwestwind said...

So hat ein perfekter Pie auszusehen!

Im Übrigen hilft mir immer diese Umrechnungstabelle

Eva said...

Mykitcheninhalfcups - I've presented the pie to my engineering friends and these guys - never cooking themselves - are easy to please..;-)

Gretchen - It actually pretty much tasted like that! Maybe I should try it that way, next time!

Vielen Dank, Ostwestwind! Diese Tabelle kann ich gut brauchen! Warum jemand aber lieber in Tassen misst, wird mir fuer immer ein Raetsel bleiben...

Rachel said...

Can I say it looks amazing...

Katy said...

Congratulations on the pie, and on your upcoming wedding! I actually think that crust looks awesome -- kind of like a crumbly cheesecake crust, yum!

Warda said...

It looks scrumptious using a springform! Well done Eva!

Merav said...

Your pie looks picture perfect! The tall layer of meringue is divine!

Canadian Baker said...

Your pie looks beautiful! Thanks for participating!

Amy said...

The swirls and curvy peaks on top of the meringue are beautiful. Great job!

ejm said...

I think you're brilliant to have managed to make the crust with bread flour! And you used ALL the butter called for in the recipe in the pastry, basically making shortbread?

I've always loved lemon curd with shortbread so I can imagine that your pie was delicious.

-Elizabeth

P.S. Have you gone to a dressmaker to see how much it might cost to have a dress made? It might turn out to be much more affordable, much less time consuming in the long run, not to mention that you'd have the fabric and pattern you like. I had my wedding dress made and paid a fraction of the price that it would have cost to buy a dress ready made. I went to a dressmaker, who designed the pattern after consulting with me (although I probably could have found a pattern in a book - "Vogue" patterns are very reliable) and then with her recommendation about how much fabric was required, went to a store she recommended to buy good quality silk. The total cost also included fittings, sewing the dress. The dressmaker was very good and not horribly expensive; she had just graduated from dressmaking school. Comparable dresses that I tried on in actual shops cost 3 and 4 times as much (and they weren't sewn as well) Most dressmakers will know where the good fabric stores are.

Gabi said...

Well it turned out beautiful despite your challenges. Nice job!
xoxo

Tartelette said...

You did a fabulous job! I love the idea of the springform pie for the crust. Beautimus!!

Eva said...

Thanks Rachel!

Thank you, Katy! I've actually never made a crumb crust myself but you could be right.

Warda - it was done out of necessity ( I don't have a pie dish) but I'm glad that many people seem to like it!

Thanks Merav, I'm a great fan of meringue, too!

Thanks for such a great challenge, Jen!

Glad you like it, Amy! I thought about improvising a piping bag but in the end that was all I could manage...

Thanks Elizabeth! Not sure if I can really recommend that method but the inclusion of wholemeal wheat flour certainly added a nice nutty flavour! Not sure if I should have omitted some butter in favour of ice water?
Thanks for all your wedding dress tips! Unfortunately, I've only found very experienced and therefore not really cheap seamstresses. They make beautiful clothes though... I'll try to get something good and cheap at the sales this weekend - wish me luck..;-)

Thanks Gabi, it was indeed quite a challenge in time management...

Thanks Tartelette, a compliment from you is always appreciated!

Lis said...

aww.. well I hope you find that perfect wedding dress! :)

Congrats, btw!

Lovely pie.. I like the look of the crumbly crust.. makes me think of cheesecake crust and that's always a good thing. hee!

xoxo

Jenny said...

Have you tried resale shops for dresses? A good dress plus a good seamstress would be less expensive and not suffer from the long time period a lot of dress shops require.

Anyway, I digress. I like the pie in a springform pan, makes it more like a torte!

Eva said...

Thanks, Lis, I'll give the dress search one more go and that'll have to be enough...

Hi, Jenny, I did have a look into that but unfortunately most of the dresses had just as much meringue around as this pie..;-) For some reason most brides seem to prefer ball gown styles but I just don't feel like myself in such a huge dress...

Peabody said...

Your pie turned out beautifully!!!

Sheltie Girl said...

Your tarts turned out beautifully and I personally love the flaky crust.

I'm sorry your handbag was snatched and I hope you are getting things back to normal.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Eva said...

Thank you Peabody!

Thanks Sheltie Girl, glad to hear that!
I still haven't gotten all my cards and stuff back (it always takes much longer than they tell you...) but I'm working on it...

Y said...

You're getting married? Congrats! :)

Your pie looks lovely despite all the disasters that occured left right and center!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Eva, I am a bit slow - didn't see your LMP til I came to check out the Bread Baking Day roundup, but it looks soooo good - nice thick layers of filling that you can sink your teeth into .. yum!

Eva said...

Thanks, Y! The preparations still keep me busy but at least I've got my dress!

Hi Cakelaw, yes same with me, I didn't have enough time to look at all the other LMPs..:-(

Claire said...

The way the crust set makes it look like a cheesecake! Either way this is a wonderful pie. Glad everyone enjoyed it!