Monday, January 28, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie...Do I Dare?

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(please excuse the horrific lighting…by the time I finished this pie the sun had set…forcing me to use creepy indoor lighting)

After missing last month’s Daring Bakers challenge, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss the next one. Since joining this lovable bunch of bakers, I have been able to exercise my baking muscles to churn out such things as Sticky Buns, Bostini Cream Pie, and Tender Potato Bread. Each challenge brought about new knowledge of baking techniques and tips (with over 300 Daring Bakers in your support network, there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared!). So I was looking forward to getting back in the swing of things this month.

And this month’s challenge is…Lemon Meringue Pie. Zoiks.

You have to understand a few things about me and this dessert…number one being, well, simply put, I don’t actually enjoy eating it. Second, I am not a big fan of meringue…at all…ever. Suffice to say I have never made, nor thought of making, this dessert. I have never made meringue either! And egg whites are an old nemesis of mine...

But that is why I joined this group…not to bake what I have baked a hundred times before, but to conquer things that I have never baked before…things I would never even think of baking…things that make shiver and shake and yet, as any Daring Baker would, still swagger into the kitchen, Microplane zester in one hand, citrus reamer in the other, to look that lemon in the eye and whip those egg whites into shape.

And that’s what I did. Sort of.

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Bumps in the road are part of every challenge, and as I was already expecting, this one yielded more bumps than usual for me. First, the crust. Working with crust or pastry of any kind, or any ingredient that needs to be “chilled” is a major challenge in my kitchen, whose heat and humidity are off the charts. You need to work very, very fast, and “chill” things in the freezer instead of the fridge. My crust, which stuck and tore all over, turned out to be quite literally a patch-up job at best. Of course, you couldn't see that once the filling was in ;)

So, the filling. It seemed to come together like a charm…thickening quickly and blooming into a beautiful shade of yellow. I poured it into the pre-baked and cooled crust and hoped for the best.

I started on the meringue, my knees knocking a bit. How challenging is it to do something you feel is your weakness, at the same time knowing you won’t enjoy eating it? Very. But, as is often the case when I push myself to do something out of my ordinary circle of things, I was pleasantly surprised. I like making meringue! Watching the egg whites magically turn pearlescent as you add the sugar. Piling mounds of sticky, cloud-like pillows onto the pie. Swatting at it with a spatula to coax peaks and swirls out of its surface. Then seeing it get all toasty in the oven. Like toasted marshmallows. It’s a very bibbity-bobbity-boo moment (it’ll do magic believe it or not!).

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Don’t let the swirly, toasty peaks fool you though. Beneath their peaceful exterior lie a filling that just wouldn't set. Yes, hiding sneakily beneath the surface, waiting to surprise me when I tried to slice the pie for my guests! Criminy. If you have any suggestions for me they will be much appreciated! Should I have let the pie and filling set in the fridge before adding the meringue? Should I have cooked it for longer and thickened it up more? Help wanted :) It was much better after a night in the fridge as it firmed up some…

From the taste testers: The pie was enjoyed by my mom, who loved it. I gave some to my best friend K and she liked it but thought it was a little too tart (although she did liken it in general to her grandma’s lemon meringue pie…thrill!). C thought it was too tart as well. My kind guests said they liked it but I'm not sure if they were just trying to be being polite to my runny pie...

Me? As someone who doesn’t really enjoy lemon meringue pie, I am the worst judge of all. I thought it tasted like, well, like lemon meringue pie…something I still don’t really love, but something I now know I can make :)

Thanks to Jen the Canadian Baker for choosing this challenge and giving me the opportunity to make something I wouldn’t have made otherwise! I think I can finally distinguish between “soft peaks” and “stiff peaks”…yay! :) Jen, you don’t know how long I have been agonizing over the difference…so from the bottom of my heart…thank you!

You can find the original recipe here. Check out the other fabulous creations from the Daring Bakers here!

86 comments:

Manggy said...

Hi joey! You have nothing to apologize for the photograph. I for one welcome variety in ambience! It's so retro, and has a feel like those 70's food photos, except not ghastly :) It has a golden glow which is kinda magical!

I just read from Tartelette that Harold McGee says if you stir cornstarch after it has boiled, it will reduce the thickening power. Which just goes to show I learn something new everyday :) In our climate, though, I would almost always refrigerate something that is meant to set. Things just work differently in our fair land :p Either that, or I would rely on full-fat (no water) lemon curds, as they can hold their shape extremely well in our climate.

Tempered Woman said...

Well I think your pie looks lovely- great job. I have to say I also really enjoyed making the meringue- it's so much darn fun to decorate with! As far as the filling goes- I think there have been quite a few people who had trouble with it turning out runny. I really ended up working mine for a very (ohsoVery) long time. So maybe it just needed some more time for the cornstarch to work its magic. And I'm partial to tart lemon meringue so I really liked this filling. Hope next month is something you'll actually enjoy eating after all that hard work!

Kasia said...

:) As a big fan of lemons (and oranges) can only say: looks delicious...

As a poor baker will say - 'bravo!'

Meeta said...

Brilliant piece of work Joey!I love the way your meringue glistens in the last picture. Well done!

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Great job...Your pie looks amazing. Too bad about the lemon curd not setting.

~Amber~ said...

Your pie looks great, wonderful job on the meringue! Congratulations on completing the challenge

[url]http://amberskitchen.blogspot.com[/url]

culinography said...

I love making meringue, too!

Looks wonderful in spite of it all, Joey!

Jerry said...

It has such a nice golden brown too it and it looks like a cloud! Great Job!

April said...

Your pie looks wonderful!

Katrina said...

Your meringue looks perfect! I've always loved how those golden brown peaks and swirls rise from the shiny white billowy cloud. I can't remember if I've ever made merengue (the last time I baked was almost two decades ago!), but I do remember enjoying beating egg whites. Watching clear, syrupy liquid turn into a white foam that can hold its shape is magical!

Veron said...

Your pie still looks awesome horrible lighting and all. I'm not big on lemon meringue pie either but this was pretty tasty!

Gretchen Noelle said...

How great that you were able to make something you probably would not have venture to do! After doing tartlettes and one big one, I would vote for the smaller pies...the large one seems too jiggly and the little ones, even a little runny were fine that way. Good thing the humidity didn't get to your meringue - it looks great!

Dhanggit said...

hi joey, we have the same problem too on taking photos..i literally need to cook & bake them in the morning to be sure with the lighting..

as for my LMP, im lucky it's hubby's fave..so he will definitely enjoy whether the custard is runny or meringue is sogging LOL but your LMP looks absolutely delicious!

glamah16 said...

My favorite part was the whole making of the Meringue as well.

Nemmie said...

Looks great! Even though it was runny (and boy, sounds like it was for most of us), it really was the best-tasting lemon curd I've ever made. And your pics are gorgeous, no worries :)

Katie B. said...

Your pie looks terrific! You and I can start a Runny Filling Support Group! :)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I'm sorry that you had problems with the pie. It does look beautiful, though. The pictures are lovely.

Lesley said...

Looks gorgeous to me!

Suzana said...

Joey, despite being slightly runny, the pie looks good. I'm afraid I'm no help to the runny filling, mine was very much like yours. Can I join the Runny Filling Support Group too? pretty please. ;)

Tartelette said...

Beautiful job! Stirring the cornstarch too vigourously and cookig it past the boiling point will reduce its thickening ability. You did a fabulous work with the meringue!

Dolores said...

It's an added challenge to spend time and energy on a baking project you know you're not going to enjoy... and you stepped up to that challenge admirably. Great job!

I(dot)J said...

Great job. Looks great!
Iisha

Lynnylu said...

Looks great! Nice puffy meringue.

DaviMack said...

the lighting's not all that bad - and it sounds like the whole thing was a success despite being tart (which is how it should be, I think), which is even better!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your pie looks beautiful. Good work, especially on the meringue. I love the little licks of it all over the top. My filling never set, either.

bbaking said...

I rather like the lighting, it gives it a "lemony glow".

The peaks on the meringue look fantastic!

kellypea said...

Hmmm...posted a response and got a strange error message from Blogger. The attack of the DB-ers! w00t!

Anyway, totally, classically perfect looking pie! I grew up around LMPs or I most likely wouldn't have ever made one, either. Very nice job!

DK said...

The meringue luks so elegant!I was so famished at the end of the whole thing that I forgot to even decorate!

Brave Sir Robin said...

The filling should be hot when you spread the meringue. That is usually the culprit.

Check out Alton Brown's Lemon Meringue pie episode.

(It should be on You tube)

Picture looked great to me, and the peaks on the meringue looked perfect!

Deborah said...

Your meringue looks absolutely perfect!

Barbara said...

I Love Lemon Meringue Pie so I'll have your share Joey. Looks fab.

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

It looks to me like you had nothing to be scared about. Knees knocking, haha. You did great and the photo looks lovely, well done.

Angela from A Spoonful of Sugar said...

I actually really like the lighting in the photo :)

I know your filling was runny--mine, too!--but your pie still looks awesome.

When I've made LMP in the past, I've made a lemon curd first and then thickened it with a slurry of cornflour and water at the very end of cooking. That allows you to avoid overheating or overstirring the cornflour.

Christina said...

Joey, I completely understand creepy indoor lighting (I even have those "natural lighting" light bulbs, but it doesn't seem to help...), but it doesn't deter from how stellar your pie looks! Great job.

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

creampuff said...

Kudos to you for attempting that crust! I think your pie is adorable!!!

Joey Biscotti said...

creepy indoor lighting or not, your pie looks great!

Kim Stone said...

Lovely job! Your pie is picture perfect.

Jigginjessica said...

Even with poor evening lighting it still looks great! Your meringue looks excellent!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Manggy! Thanks! :) Yeah, I guess the lighting does make for a refreshing change of pace :) Thanks for passing on the tips on the cornstarch and setting…yes, I had a feeling I should have refrigerated it for a while. With the heat here I felt like sticking my head into the fridge as well!

Hi Tempered Woman! Thank you :) I did eat bits of the pie…not too bad but still not my favorite dessert :) Still too “lemony” for me, although my mom (who love LMP and Key Lime Pie) loved it to bits! The meringue was indeed fun to work with…although I have to confess, I still don’t eat it either!

Hi Kasia! Thank you! :) I’m sure you would have enjoyed this dessert then :)

Thanks so much Meeta! I like that last picture too :)

Hi Judy! Well, you win some, you lose some…and when you’ve got runny filling, well, that’s what’s spoons are for ;)

Thank you Amber!

Thanks Culinography! So strange that I enjoy making it but not eating it…heehee :)

Hi Jerry! Thanks! I love the way it looks “cloud-like” too :)

Thanks April :)

Hi Katrina! Thanks :) I agree, meringue is quite magical to make…I feel bad that I don’t enjoy eating it as much as I like watching it come together. I guess I’m just going to have to find some meringue lovers out there to eat whatever I make! ;)

Hi Veron! Thank you! I tried my best :) Yup, it was pretty tasty and the pie in general got good reviews from the LMP-lovers in my life :)

Hi Gretchen Noelle! I looked at it like a big challenge…which is was for me! And I’m so glad I did it :) And there is something so domestic goddess-y about having this classic, fluffy-peaked pie at the table!

Hi Dhanggit! Ah! You are familiar with the “cook everything early in the day” situation I see! ;)

Hi Glamah16! I loved that! :)

Hi Nemmie! Thank you :) Going to check out the DBers posts for how they avoid the runny filling, although I have some pretty good tips already here in the comments :)

Hi Katie B! Hahaha! Yes, a support group sounds great! We can hold hands over running filling and scoop it up with spoons! :)

Hi Stickygooeycreamychewy! Thank you :)

Thanks Lesley!

Hi Suzana! Yes you can definitely join the Runny Filling Support Group! :)

Hi Helen! Thank you :) And thanks so much for the pointer on the filling :)

Hi Dolores! Thank you :) It was a big challenge for me but I’m so glad I went for it!

Thanks Lisha :)

Hi Lynnylu! Thank you!

Hello Davimack! Yes, I guess it really was supposed to be tart…the very thing my mom loved so much about it :)

Hi there Cookie Baker Lynn! Sorry to hear about your filling too!

Hi Bbaking! “Lemony Glow”…I like that :) Thanks!

Hi Kellypea! Thanks! I do like how it kinda looks like it’s from a diner :)

Hi DK! Haha! That is too funny :)

Hello Brave Sir Robin! Thanks for the tip…will check it out!

Hi Deborah! Thank you :)

Hi Barbara! Wish you were here (or I was there) so I could share this pie with you! :)

Hello Baker & Curry Maker! Thank goodness the meringue turned out! Hehe :)

Hi Angela! Thank you :) I had to run around to different spots in my flat to figure out which was the most decent :) Thanks for the tips for the filling!

Hi Christina! Sigh…nothing beats natural light! :)

Hi Ivonne! Thank you :) The crust didn’t turn out too bad since all the “patch ups” were covered :) It was difficult though to handle it as it seemed to be “melting” after only minute out of the fridge!

Hi Joey Biscotti! Thank you!

Thanks Kim Stone! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jigginjessica! Thanks for your kind comment :)

cerisegourmand said...

My curd didnt set too well either! But I still loved the overall taste of the LMP! Great job!

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

While you may have had trouble with your curd, your meringue looks great! Lots of great spikes and texture.

Jen Tan said...

hey joey! if you hadn't mentioned the faults and flaws of this pie...I would have just thought it was perfect..as it does look so =)

I too don't like meringue anything...but I bet this would be a fun project to make!

You're a fabulous daring baker!!!

Big Boys Oven said...

I am drooling now....your LMP is so spectacular!

Princess of the kitchen said...

Your meringue looks fantastic. Great job

Miss Ifi said...

We are Daring Bakers because we go to uncharted territory and learn new things, so I am glad that even though you didn't really liked the lemon meringue pie challenge you tried it out, and see?? you discovered that you love making meringue (I love it too.. I don't love eating it, just making it).. so congratulations DARING BAKER!!!

mtan said...

I love the color of your meringue, the lightly brown peaks, riotous curls. Hopefully the next time you try this the filling sets, but at least it tastes tart like lemon should! I'm partial to tart tasting fillings (hint hint :D).

Bravo for making something you wouldn't have made.

Baking Soda said...

Bibbity-bobbity-boo, perfect pie for you! You did it!

Bordeaux said...

That looks super. Never mind that the curd did not set. I'm certain messy lemon meringue would be just as yummy and so much more fun to eat!

maybahay said...

looks lovely! i wasn't completely happy with my filling either, the cornstarch base seems tricky.
wasn't it good fun making it though?

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Looks good Joey! I wish I knew more about why things do and don't happen. I was lucky my curd set. Second what Manggy said. I learned that about cornstarch from Helen too. I learned loads from this challenge. I'd always been too scared to make meringue, I'd never made lemon curd and I was scared of pastry. Just goes to show.

lovesweetlove said...

Your meringue is gorgeous!

christine said...

Aww, Jo. Now I REALLY wish we were neighbors! I love lemon meringue, and lemon-anything dessert! It's adorable, the lighting couldn't make it look bad. Look at those lovely peaks! You did an awesome job, considering too that you don't even like this dessert. Well done! :)

SteamyKitchen said...

oh those magical mystical swirls!
they are so flirty.

Sorry I can't give any advice to runny pie, because I'm SO not good at baking.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love the look of your meringue, your pie looks great!

Maryann said...

Nice photo, Joey.Good job on the pie :)

Merav said...

Lovely pie! The meringue looks gorgeously browned and fluffy!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Joey you are a true Daring Baker! From the sound of it your filling may just have needed time to set up longer. My pie wiggled when it came out of the oven but 3 hours later is was firm, no runny and no weeping. I found no difference between the meringue on a hot filling or a cool one.
Sorry you don't like lemon meringue pie but now you know peaks!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

And I really liked your very bibbity-bobbity-boo moment!

Laura said...

I was in a hurry making mine so I poured the lemon into a still warm crust, then mounded the meringue on still very warm lemon filling...then I popped it in the oven for 15 min to bake the meringue. I think NOT letting things cool all the way was a good thing!

Louise (Gato Azul) said...

From experience, meringue holds up better if you cool the pie to room temperature before putting it in the fridge to cool... might have been the problem although those pictures don't hint at any problem at all. Wonderful job!

Nan said...

I felt the same about the challenge...not that excited. But now we can say we've made a lemon meringue pie!

Canadian Baker said...

Your pie looks great! Thanks for participating. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Cerisegourmand! Yes, despite being a bit too soft, it tasted fine :) And it actually firmed up in the fridge…

Hi Sweet and Savory Eats! Thanks! Loved making it :)

Hi Jen! Thank you so much…you are too sweet! :) I am more an egg yolk girl myself (rather than an egg white girl), gravitating towards things like yema and tocino del cielo rather than meringue :)

Hi there Big Boys Oven! Thank you :)

Hello Princess of the Kitchen! Thanks!

Hi Miss Ifi! Haha! Thanks! :) Very true! Wow…we are the same…enjoy making meringue but not eating it!

Hi M! I wish I could give you some! I know it’s supposed to be tart but I guess I couldn’t appreciate it properly, unlike my mom who was all, “Oooh! It’s so tart I love it!” while I was, “Yikes! Too lemoneeee for me…” :) Riotous curls…was I subconsciously trying to give my pie my hair???

Hey there Baking Soda! Heehee…thanks!

Hi Bordeaux! Hehe…yup, lemony and sticky :) The taste is what matters…you are right! :)

Hi Maybahay! It was fun! To think I don’t even really eat LMP…but I had a lot of fun and learned a lot making it :)

Hi Amanda! I wish I knew why too! Well, that is why we are part of this group…to learn all we can :) I think this is what I like most about the DBers…I get to practice techniques that I wouldn’t normally think of doing and stuff I haven’t made before…well, that’s my second most favorite thing…the first being all the wonderful members!

Thanks Lovesweetlove!

Hey Nens! Thanks! Yes, I am so wishing you were my neighbor and you could have taken this pie and loved it good unlike me! Hehe :)

Hi Jaden! I like flirty! Hmmm…I think I will try to have all my desserts aspire to that :)

Hi Proud Italian Cook! Thank you :)

Hi Maryann! Thanks!

Thanks Merav! I do like that meringue too :)

Hi Tanna! This challenge really pushed me…and I’m glad it did coz that’s what I signed up for ;) Sigh…even after 3 hours (longer even) it was still wobbly! I think it’s just too darned hot over here! Hehe…you are right…I felt like a fairy godmother making those peaks!

Hi Laura! Really? Ok, cool, good to know! :)

Hi Louise! Can I call you Gato Azul? Such a cool name :) Thanks for the tips!

Hi Nan! Yes we sure can! Woohoo! :)

Hi Jen! Thank you for hosting! :)

Lunch Buckets said...

Sexy meringue! I made tiny pies - so it wouldn't matter if it didn't firm up enough. And it didn't - so no advice from me!

Chez Denise et Laudalino said...

Love this photo! Looks yummy!

Candace said...

Fabulous job! See... meringue CAN be your friend! :)

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on your lemon meringue pie. When I made my lemon filling I paid close attention to Tartelette's advice on working with the mixture. She was spot on too, I didn't have any trouble with the filling.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

breadchick said...

Joey, great job on your challenge, slippery filling or no slippery filling. I love the "magic " of egg whites too!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Those are simply peaks of perfection, Joey! :)

Claire said...

Looks great! I love your meringue.

Mindy said...

yeah know what you mean about frustrating lighting- though your pie actually looks quite cool in the pic...

PAM said...

I love lemon meringue pie and am in constant search of the best one. To my untrained eye, your pie pic looks so good, it made me fall in love with lemon meringue pie all over again.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lunch Buckets! After going through the comments and seeing the other DBers’ posts I realize that making the tartlettes would have been an easy solution to “contain” runny filling :)

Hi Denise! Thanks!

Hi Candace! Yes, apparently so! You really never know what you can do until you try huh? :)

Hi Natalie! Hmmm…I really should have paid more attention to what was going on at the forums! :)

Hi Breadchick! Thank you! :) Thanks to this challenge I know have a handle (no matter how shaky!) on the egg whites ;)

Hi Susan! Thank you :)

Thanks Claire! :)

Hi Mindy! Hehe :) Thanks! I think the first picture looks a bit menacing though…

Hi Pam! Your “untrained eye”? I don’t think so :) Thanks for stopping by! Thank goodness for the masking abilities of “flirty” meringue is all I can say ;)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your pie looks extremely gorgeous and so do your pictures! I love those shiny meringue swirls... You did a great job here!

Cheers,

Rosa

Jen Yu said...

Oooh, I think you did a lovely job on the pie considering you're not a fan (I'm not a fan either!). That shows the true DB spirit :) Excellent LMP.

Kelly-Jane said...

It's a beautiful pie! Well done :)

Peabody said...

Sorry that the pie gave you a little trouble but it looks like everything turned out well.

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Rosa! I like those swirls too! I feel like I've just discovered meringue :)

Hi Jen! Thanks :) I found some nice people to give slices of the pie to...although we did have part of my labor also! :)

Thank you Kelly-jane!

Hi Peabody! Thanks :) It's all part of doing the challenges :)

Heather said...

nice looking even if it was a little runny

african vanielje said...

You go girl. I admire anyone who faces down their nemesis with such determination. I always think LMP should be served cold once your curd has had time to set again. Overnighting it helps the set but not the pastry or the meringue. It's great that you did it but not something I'd agonise over if you don't actually enjoy eating it. Well done anyway.

toni said...

Ooh la la! That is LOVE!!!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Heather! :)

Hi African Vanielje! Thanks! I know, I would have loved to keep it overnight to set properly (the filling was actually much firmer after a night in the fridge) but the meringue and crust would not be at their peak anymore...anyways, I am really glad I made it :)

Haha! Thanks Toni :)

Candygirl said...

I love Lemon Meringue Pie....whenever I bake a LMP, I'm the only one who enjoys it the most (though the rest of the family do eat a piece during dessert time).

ChichaJo said...

Hi Candygirl! I wish I could have given some to you then :)

Bake...Mistake? said...

What a beautiful Meringue! Im so envious, I really cant bake, am trying to get tips from blogs like yours. Have a look at my attempt at meringue www.bakemistake.blogspot.com disaster or what? would love some tips!! xxxx