One of the reasons I started this blog was to be part of a community. I saw people sharing their lives as they shared their recipes and I wanted to be involved. Normally I'm reluctant to try and be part of something that's already so established - I fear being derided as a pretender or a mere follower. As soon as something is declared to be the 'in thing', I declare that it's not for me. Back in the day when Brad Pitt was first outed as being the man to fancy I decided that I couldn't see it. A decision that I'm sure still causes Brad to silently sob every night.
Of course, this stupid mentality can mean missing out. I'm thankful that I was able to set aside my stubborn ways and not only start this blog but ask to be a member of the Daring Bakers (asking to be part of something is also a big deal for me; I fear I have rejection issues).
As I'm sure you all know, the Daring Bakers are people who live to bake. Each month one member picks a recipe to push everyone out of the baking comfort zone and then write about it. I love the idea of a cooking club. When I was in the first year of secondary school my friend and I started one with the help of one of the Home Economics teachers. We were allowed to choose a recipe and the teacher would help us make it after school. I remember choosing Black Forest Gateaux, something my Mum would never have sanctioned me making at home (too showy).
It was with great excitement that I tackled my first challenge as a Daring Baker: Lemon Meringue Pie. A recipe picked by Jen at The Canadian Baker. This was a great recipe for me to ease into the group as it's something that I've made a few times before (not always without tears). As my recent collection of citrus recipes shows, the zing of these fruits is a perfect way to make you feel alive in January.
When making LMP I tend to use Delia's version. The curd is sharp and yielding and the meringue manages to be light yet substantive. Bliss. I feel for people who only know LMP from the lemon washing up liquid tasting versions that are churned out in canteens and supermarkets. They're missing out.
I took the pie to my friend's house for dinner in my fantastic cake carrier which caused quite a few looks on the tube (don't people know that Tupperware is the new Louis Vuitton daaaaarling?). Everyone enjoyed the pudding, as did I, but I couldn't help feeling that I actually prefer the Delia version. It's really hard for me to admit that as isn't it terribly rude to join the Daring Bakers and then whinge about the recipe in the first post? I thought that the pie looked spectacular. The pile of meringue, the thick layer of curd and the golden crust were everything a LMP should be. However, I prefer my crust to be a bit more crumbly; I thought the addition of so much water made it too hard and crisp. I also felt that the curd had too much cornflour. The texture was a bit too gelatinous and the flavour wasn't as vibrant as I would have liked. Of course, this could all be down to how I made the pie so I am very interested to hear what other people think.
I managed to make one whole pie and a collection of mini pie bites which I served with Greek yoghurt mixed with a little honey and grated ginger. Yum.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10 inch pie
180g cold butter cubed
475g plain flour
60g granulated sugar
80ml iced water
240g granulated sugar
5 egg yolks, beaten
180ml fresh lemon juice
1tbsp lemon zest
1tsp vanilla extract
5 egg whites at room temperature
1/2tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For 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 worktop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch.
- Cut a circle about 2 inches 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 ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 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.
For the Filling:
- Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest for 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 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.
For the Meringue:
- Preheat the oven to 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. Enjoy!
Tip from Joy: In order for the egg whites to whisk properly the bowl needs to be scrupulously clean. Run a lemon wedge around your bowl before adding the egg whites as this gets rid of any grease.