This time around, our very own Jen of The Canadian Baker challenged us to make a lemon meringue pie. What a great idea--perhaps it's the foofy meringue, but I've always viewed meringue pies with a whimsical eye. And what could be better with whimsy, but a couple of girlfriends, a hearty lunch, a pot of tea and a good old-fashioned natter?
This pie could have marked my return to kitchen pottering but, in reality, this pie tested my scullery resolve. Quite honestly, if I were a weaker sort, I'd probably have thrown in the towel and headed to the bigscarymegamart for a "home style pie." Yup this pie was as obstinate as a goat...which would have been fine if it were a chevre tart. But it wasn't.
Since I don't have a food processor, my little fingertips usually busy away, rubbing fat into flour until it feels right. Hestia must have sensed my cockiness and decided to knock me down a peg or two...by virtue of a shard of butter. A bamboo shoot-like shard of butter. A bamboo shoot-like shard of butter that rammed itself under my thumbnail, separating it from the quick.
I shrieked. I jumped. I bled....but not into the pastry.
After I washed off my digit and staunched the bleeding I returned to the pastry. It chilled well and it rolled out well. I got it into the pan in one piece.
As I pondered edge fluting, the pie plate fell off the counter and landed crust side up, disposable plate dented. Gingerly I placed the sheet of dough onto an undented plate...and I gingerly tore it. My futile attempts to fix the rip left me with an ultimatum: toss the dough or re-roll it. Quite honestly, I was short on butter so I re-rolled it, totally accepting the inevitably tough crust which would result.
After chilling it...and chilling out a bit...I blind baked it. It looked fine when I took the pie weights off and returned it to the oven. Five minutes later it ballooned like a puffer fish--I'd forgotten to dock the crust. I quickly evacuated it from mum's oven and refashioned the foil and weights. After a slightly-longer-than-called-for bake, the crust looked beautiful.
That jubilant feeling would be short-lived. Sure the cornstarch, sugar and water came together to a lovely opalescent and viscous consistency, but I was sure I was forgetting something as I stood stirring...staring at the whole lemons on the counter. Yup...standing and stirring and staring...at the lemons that should have been zested and juiced.
And there I was with my owie thumb.
Needless to say, I quickly juiced the fruit before I looked at the naked pith from the inner hulls of two lemon halves...as black as ink. Before she left for India, My Darling Little Mummy told me to use those lemons...I just didn't realise I should have used them the day after she left, instead of two weeks later. Thank goodness I brought four extra lemons...
The next day my two friends arrived for lunch. No problems, I thought. All I have to do is plop the filling into the shell, make the meringue and bake the blessed thing.
So I preheat Beelzebub.
Beelzebub does not preheat.
I fiddle with the knobs. My friends fiddle with the knobs. Nothing. We continue on for a great lunch while my disassembled pie remains in the kitchen, disassembled.
Ten minutes after one of my guests leaves, Beelzebub decides he's needed.
Quickly I pulled the meringue together. Big and frothy, white and poofy I shwooped it onto the filled crust and bunged it into Beelzebub's gaping maw. He was in fine form. Too fine. I had to pull out the pie a tad early as the shwoops threatened to turn from a honeyed brown to charcoal black.
I sliced wedges for my remaining guest and myself, serving it with some home-made blueberry coulis. My worries about the crust were unnecessary--yes, it wasn't as tender as I prefer, but it was pretty good. The luscious sunshiney filling was not too sweet and not too tart. But the meringue was exquisite--sweet and almost marshmallowy-soft with the slightest little crisp on top.
tags: "Daring Bakers" lemons "Pies and Tarts"