The slight vanilla sweetness from the meringue, the tartness from the lemon curd, and the buttery crumbly crust will make a perfect dessert for your holiday dinner party…
In all honesty I’m not a big fan of pies, especially apple pie. I can’t really tell what it is, but the combination of sour apple and cinnamon just doesn’t do it for me. I only like cinnamon when combined with sugar, like in the Cinnabon strips, or on roasted whole pineapples like I used to have back in Brazil. I do have to say I have some interests on egg tarts, a close relative to pies, but it has to be the Portuguese egg tarts with the flaky puff pastry shell and the caramelly filling. I can eat 10 of them in a minute!!! Another fact about pie that I’m not too fascinated about is that sometimes there is more dough/crust than filling (more so on double crust pies). You can also find your information on the differences between pies and tarts from Google, but I’d say they are pretty close to each other, just a little different in the crust/shell. That was the reason why making pies always gave me a good excuse to stall, it is because I might not eat them afterwards…
However, I believe everything is worth a try, at least when there’s a little push. For the second project of the Food Workshop, I was asked to make pies. It took me a while to find a pie that I’d like to do and taste, and it was Julia who suggested we make a pie dish. We later came to a conclusion that we’d make lemon meringue pie, a dessert pie instead of a savory one. I like things that are sweet and sour, so I’d love to try out a recipe on this. To be honest, I was kind of excited to make this dish as I wanted to see how the meringue would turn out, and how I would be able to handle the blow torch (which didn’t actually occur). I showed Julia some photos and recipes on Taste Spotting. This is a great website that comprise of some of the best food pictures and food blogs. It’s like Vogue magazine for fashion!
I picked up a recipe by Dave from The Spice Blog after a bit of searching and filtering. He has his own pie crust recipe that was quite easy to follow, and the lemon curd recipe was sooo good!!! I actually took out 1/2 cup sugar to fit my “Asian” sweet tooth, and took out the butter in the curd recipe because I forgot it. It turned out very nice and smooth, and the tartness of the curd was just perfect for me. For thos who can’t really take sour tastes, you might want to add 1/2 cup more sugar as the original recipe. I also found Meyer lemons, which were weirdly smooth on the skin, but were extremely pungent and fragrant. I was so happy with the end result. The recipe calls for the lemon zest as well, but as a rule of thumb, always use the zest of a citrus fruit whenever a recipe calls for the juice. It just helps enhance the flavor so much deeper (good tip from Nigellisima).
I met Julia on Sunday, at Loblaws. She just came back from an early morning skate-alone section at the City Hall. When I met her, she was dragging with her 10 lbs of skating shoes in a big gym bag. We finished the purchase part really quickly as I only needed to buy some lemon and butter. The rest of the ingredients was already available at my place. It took us a total of 2 hours from start to finish, including the meringue, which was not bad at all. I used a tart dish for the demonstrating photos because I didn’t have a round pie dish, and my coworker happened to have a tart dish that she made pumpkin pie out of. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to mix up the utensils for these 2 dishes (pie and tart) a little bit. Julia was quite good for a rookie learning how to cook. I gave her the task of mixing the flour and butter and she did it very well. If you look at the ball of dough you can confirm yourself. Now let’s get some cookin’ going!!!
|Some of the main ingredients – I posted this online and no one could guess what I was making…
Preparation time: 2 hours + 4 hours to overnight chilling
Servings: 6 – 10 people (regular 12″ tray)
– 1 1/4 cup pastry flour
– 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
– 1 stick cold unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
– 1/8 cup water
– 2 cups of dry beans
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 1/3 cup water
– 6 tbsp tapioca starch
– juice and zest of 4 Meyer lemons
– 4 egg yolks
– 4 egg whites
– 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
– 6 tbsp sugar
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
*For the crust:
– Preheat oven to 425F – 220C
– In a large bowl, put together flour and salt. Cut the cold butter into small chunks and add in the flour. Use the finger tip to start rubbing the flour into the butter until the butter is incorporated into the flour and the mixture feels like wet sand
– Add cold water little by little into the flour mixture and start mixing until we have a nice ball of dough
– Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes
– On a clean flat surface dusted with dry flour, roll out the cold dough with a rolling pin until we have a thin layer (around 1/8 inch)
– Roll the dough over the pie dish/mould and pinch out excess dough. Use a folk and make several holes on the bottom of the pie, and some on the sides
– Fill in the pie with the dry beans and bake for 17-20 minutes, until the edge of the pie turns golden brown
– Let cool and take out the beans then start preparing the lemon curd
|This is the texture that you want for your curd
*Making lemon curd:
– In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks until it becomes thick and pale yellow
– In a small/medium pot, put together water, sugar, tapioca starch, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix to combine lightly
– Cook the mixture over medium/low heat. Keep whisking the mixture while it heats up and thickens lightly
– After the the mixture starts to heat up and thicken, slowly pour half of it over the egg yolk. Whisk quickly to prevent the egg yolk from cooking
|Yes it is really bright yellow 🙂
– Transfer the egg yolk mix back into the pot with half of the lemon water, and cook the curd over medium heat until it boils, whisk constantly to prevent lumps. Once the curd starts to boil, cook and whisk for 1 more minute until it thickens, remove from heat. Keep whisking the curd until lightly cool
– Pour the curd over cool pie crust
|It should be this stiff and glossy to make a good meringue
– Preheat over to 350F – 180C
– In a large dry bowl, combine egg whites, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar.
– Beat the egg white mixture until soft peak forms, or double in size
– Gradually add in sugar one tbsp at a time. Continue to beat until sugar dissolves and egg white becomes stiff and glossy.
– Spread the meringue generously on top of the pie, making sure that it covers all the lemon curd and touches the edge of the crust. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon and light touch the top of the meringue to create peaks.
– Put the pie in the oven and switch to Broil mode in Low. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the meringue peaks turn golden brown
– Take the pie out and let cool completely before putting in the fridge to chill.
– Best served cold, with a cup of tea!!!
– While rubbing the flour into the butter, if you use the entire palm of your hands, the heat from your hands will melt the butter really quickly, causing the dough to become smooshy. It might be hard to combine the water in later.
– For the dry beans, they can be any kind of beans, even rice. However I find rice to be too small and it will be come really hard to remove later. The purpose of adding the beans is to pt some weight onto the bottom of the crust to prevent it from puffing up. So is the work of stabbing the bottom with a folk. If you don’t have beans available, just make sure you create enough holes at the bottom of the crust, so that steam can exit while baking, hence preventing the crust to raise.
– While preparing the lemon curd, remember to whisk constantly in the entire process of cooking. Since tapioca starch will not incorporate into water until it heats up, it will form a layer at the bottom of the pot if not whisked up, resulting in burned bottom and runny curd at the end. Whisking the curd at any time in the process also prevents lumps from forming, thus reducing the work of straining the curd after it cools down.
– While spreading the meringue, make sure to let it touch the edge of the crust, as it will shrink after cooling down. If the meringue touches the crust, it will help prevent the shrink. Ultimately you can use the blow torch to skip the last baking process, but since I’m not experienced with it, I’ll share thi smethod to help those inexperienced like me 🙂