Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Pie That Made Me Cry

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Lemon meringue. I've made this type of pie countless times, but the last time I made it I used a new recipe and the filling ended up being more like a lemon soup. This was about a year ago, so I had high hopes for a perfect pie as I began the process last night.

Oh how wrong I was...

As I was making the pie, I was ecstatic almost every step of the way as I watched it come together perfectly. The meringue was thick and sweet, the filing gelled together and wasn't soupy at all and the crust looked incredible! I popped it in the oven, ran upstairs to let my husband know pie was in the oven and then it hit me...

I forgot to pre-bake the crust.

For those of you who have never made a lemon meringue pie, let me just let you in on a not-so-secret...the filling is cooked on the stove, the only reason the pie is baked is to brown up the top of the cooks for about 8-10 minutes - which is in NO WAY long enough to fully cook a raw pie crust!

So of course I took it in stride and moved on...oh yeah, I wish I had that type of personality...nope. I burst into ridiculous tears over a stupid dessert. I remember blubbering into my husband's shirt something like "but it looks so pretty!" After I stopped leaking tears, my husband proceeded to save the pie and my sanity.

We pulled it out of the oven, scraped the meringue into the garbage and whipped up a new one while we scooped out the lemon filling and set it aside. The now-empty pie crust went back in the oven to bake sans-filling and when it was done we re-assembled the pie.

It turned out deliciously yummy! One tip I have for you (other than remember to pre-bake your crust) is to let this pie cool COMPLETELY. Once it comes to room temperature, pop it in the fridge for about 4-6 hours. Otherwise you will experience the phenomenon that prompted a second round of frustrated tears...cutting into the pie and having the filling ooze everywhere - AKA "lemon soup".

All of that to say, once it chilled for hours, the pie was a yummy success. However, I'll probably be leaving lemon meringue pie alone for another few months. Key lime anyone? Talk about an easy pie...

Crybaby's Lemon Meringue Pie

- 4 egg yolks
- 4 egg whites
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- 1 PRE-BAKED pie crust
- 1 pinch cream of tartar
- 2 tbsp. sugar (additional to the above)


Preheat the oven to 375. Whisk egg yolks and set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine and bring the mixture to a boil (stirring frequently). Boil for 1 minute.

2. Remove the mixture from heat and gradually (one whisk-full at a time), add the hot mixture to the egg yolks and whisk together until you've added at least half of the mixture to the egg yolks. This process is called tempering and the purpose is to gradually bring up the temperature of the egg so it doesn't cook the egg in the process. Return the tempered mixture to the saucepan, turn the heat down to low and cook for about 1 more minute - stirring constantly!

3. Remove the mixture from heat and gently stir in the butter, lemon juice and zest. Pour the mixture into the PRE-BAKED pie shell.

4. Make the meringue! You can do this earlier in the process if you like, it won't hurt it to sit for a little while. Pour the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Then gradually add in the 2 tbsp. sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Top the pie with the meringue while the filling is still hot. Be sure to spread the meringue all the way to the edges of the pie so it doesn't shrink while baking.

5. Bake the pie for 8-10 minutes or until the meringue starts to turn golden brown on the tips. Remove the pie from the oven and cool it on a wire rack until it is room temperature, then chill it in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours before serving.

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