I think this pie is best described as a comedy of errors. Emphasis on the errors.
Looks good, right? Well, it tasted good too. But it definitely didn’t look good for long.
When I set out to make this pie, I decided to make it in one of my tart shells, rather than a pie dish (I am seriously in love with my tart shells). I halved the recipe, thinking that was about the difference between the sizes of a tart and a pie dish. But, after halving, I didn’t have quite enough crust to actually cover the tart shell! So I was forced to move the little scraps from some edges and try to mold them into the shell in the bare places. That should have been a sign that this pie was just not for me, but I continued.
The filling went off more or less without a hitch, as did the meringue, and I should have just baked the pie and been done with it.
Except I didn’t bake the pie. I attempted to just brown the top of the pie with my broiler. And look how good at controlling my broiler I am:
I know, I know. Doesn’t that just look delicious? Amazingly, I was able to turn the above mess into an actually edible pie. The broiling only burned the very top layer of the meringe, so I literally just scraped it off with a knife. Took a while, but I was left with a more-or-less uncooked layer of meringue underneath.
Round two, in which I lowered the heat on the broiler, worked much better. Quite proud of myself, I set the pie aside to cool, and then cut myself a slice.
Um, that is not a pie. That is a very gooey pudding with a little bit of meringue on top. I know that others have made very lovely pies with this recipe, so I won’t blame the recipe. I’ll blame the mysterious gods of baking, and maybe sacrifice a few goats before my next attempt.
Lemon Meringue Pie
(from “Wanda’s Pie in the Sky” by Wanda Beaver)
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008
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.
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie.