28 January 2008

Daring Bakers: Lemon Meringue Pie

I think the kitchen gawds have forsaken me...or at the very least, Zao Jun was on a coffee break when I constructed this month's challenge.

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.

To read what the other DBs did with this challenge, take a meander through our blogroll.

cheers!
jasmine

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39 comments:

Gretchen Noelle said...

It is very nice to see you participate. What a tale you tell! I am glad that you overcame all these challenges!

K & S said...

I hope your finger is better now and Beelzebub will be replaced soon....the pie looks fabulous!

Lydia said...

That is a day that would have tested my patience long before I finished baking the pie! Hooray for you for seeing it through -- and enjoying it in the end!

Baking Soda said...

Ack, under your nail! I hate it when that happens, it hurts! Lemons and Beelzebub not cooperating, you had to fight this pie every step of the way. Kudos for perseverance (and a fine pie)!

Dolores said...

Oh Jasmine, I'm so glad you're back... I've missed your voice and your warm, wise humor. Great job taming the savage LMP. :)

Big Boys Oven said...

yours look so gorgeously done!

Inne said...

What a hilarious post, Jasmine. You're such a trouper for not giving up!
Welcome back to the blogworld and congrats on your home ownership.
p.s. I think I may have your Beelzebub's little cousin in my kitchen...

Kelly said...

So glad to have you back blogging Jasmine! Your stories always draw me in and your pictures are so beautiful. Thanks for my morning smile!

Sheltie Girl said...

I'm sorry you were having a challenge with your challenge. I'm glad to see you are back and baking with us. Congratulations on your new home too!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Deborah said...

It sounds like you ran into your fair share of problems, but the end result is wonderful!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh Jasmine, I think I'm starting to like Beelzebub! I don't know any DB who's had anything like this experience. I had pools of butter in my crust but you repeatedly pulled this one out of the fire to screaming success!!
I really thought this meringue and lemon curd were a perfect coming together.
So happy you are with us again.

Tanya said...

Hehehe... death by butter! I mean, uhhh. Congratulations!

Seriously, though, sounds like you've had a rough few months in the kitchen, but congrats on the house and on the challenge!

linda said...

Wow, talk about bad luck! But...in the end it turned out perfect!

And good to see you back in the blogosphere!

Meeta said...

I had a great laugh with this - I have to say you still managed a great looking LMP! Nice to have you back baking with us again!

Quellia said...

That is quite the adventure!
Welcome back Daring Baker, you've been missed.

glamah16 said...

Hmmm. This new kitchen of yours needs to learn who is boss!It looks like it all turned out well enough. I love the addition of your bluebrry coulis on the side.

Tanya said...

Unfortunately, the ethereal quality came from using my cell phone to take my picture... but I sometimes like the effect, too. I wonder if I can do it on my shiny new camera!

Marionberries are a type of blackberry crossbred from two wild blackberries that grow in Oregon. I picked a bottle of preserves up when I went to visit my sister in Portland. They're much sweeter than commercial blackberries, but still have enough tart to make them perfect. They remind me almost of a blackberry raspberry cross.

Ami said...

After all that, you triumph in the end! Show that oven who's boss.

Tartelette said...

Ah that oven!! I love the idea of blueberry coulis with the lemon pie! Makes me want to try it all over again! Beautiful job and a great read as always.

Gigi said...

The pie looks fab! The blueberry coulis sounds dreamy.

April said...

You have got a ton of patience girl! I would have thrown that pie crust right out the window! The blueberry coulis sounds like a wonderful tag along!

Peabody said...

Glad to have you back in the DB challenges. So glad this one was a good one for you!

cookworm said...

Glad you managed to conquer Beelzebub and use his fiery power for the forces of good! Your pie looks lovely and all the better for not giving up. Happy to see you back and baking.

breadchick said...

Yup, your kitchen resident evil stove sure is a "blast" to have around. I would have given up after I pricked my thumb. Welcome back to Daring Bakers. Glad to have you with us again!!

Annemarie said...

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Evil, naughty butter and bad, bad beelzebub. And yet the pie was a success - well done!

Lunch Buckets said...

I think at some point I would have just served curd on saltines. Way to persevere!

Brilynn said...

How are you surviving with such a cranky oven? Have you tried singing to him? Maybe he just needs sweetening up...

Jen Yu said...

Oh hon, you have such spunk. I love your post! Really glad to see you DBing and with success despite all of the obstacles :) xxoo

Kate said...

I think you should start taking donations toward a Beelzebub replacement, myself. No patience here for naughty cookware.

I think there must be something in the air that's making pies fail, though...I've had three failed pies this week! And unfortunately, I can't blame my (very reliable) oven...

I think your lemon meringue pie looks delish. Glad you're back and baking, love. Pie on!

creampuff said...

Sorry it didn't turn out so well ... nice try, though!

creampuff said...

We must do something about that Beelzebub ... but I must say it's such a joy to see you back!

Nora B. said...

Your oven sure has a bit of an attitude ;-)

Glad that it all turned out fine in the end.

Sara said...

Ew to the shard of butter under the thumbnail! Hope there's a replacement stove in your future.

Claire said...

So glad you're back. Amazed that butter could be so cruel! Neverthless, you pie looks wonderful. Glad you were able to share it with friends.

Quellia said...

Jasmine, did you try the grapefruit version yet? And how did it turn out? I want to try that one but am afraid and am getting looks of skepticism from the family for it!

DaviMack said...

Glad that it worked out, despite demon infestation. ;) Good job!

Lis said...

I'm STILL holding onto my thumbs and wincing! ;)

Holy cow.. the bad juju was thick that day, Jasmine! But, as a true Daring Baker would, you persevered and ended up with a lovely pie. :)

I hope your thumb is all better now!

Welcome back to the DB! You were missed!

xoxo

Bellini Valli said...

Look at that beautiful meringue :) See you next month :)

jasmine said...

Hello all

Thanks for all the wonderful support!

Yes, Beelzebub is more than a pain, but we have to live together for a while longer.

Quellia: no, haven't had time to do the crapefruit version yet...

j