It is nearly 11 PM on the night before I am supposed to be posting my latest Daring Baker challenge. One would think that after almost a year has gone by since becoming a Daring Baker, that I would actually complete a challenge with enough time to wipe the sweat from my brow, catch my breath, and swear I’ll never, ever procrastinate again.
Clearly, I haven’t learned. I’ll spare you the proverbial excuses and say that I’d planned to snuggle into bed to read more than three paragraphs of the current book I’m dragging myself through when I had an acute attack of the guilties. Or, maybe it was just that I didn’t want to not be present when the party started. Because I know right now, that if I chose to click on certain links, some of the Daring Bakers have posted because it is already "tomorrow" where they live in the world. Living in the most southwestern corner of the US, I’m one of the last to greet midnight. The hour that, it is LEGAL to post our latest challenge.
So. No bed. No novel. Tell me. When was the last time you witnessed such dedication? Okay. Whatever. I’ll get on with it.
This month, our Lemon Meringue Pie challenge was hosted by Jen The Canadian Baker. And to me, the challenge would be about the meringue. It isn’t that I haven’t made meringue or that when I do, it doesn’t turn out. It’s more about the perfect meringue (as if I could actually hope for this…). The meringue I saw on top of a pie featured in Saveur last March (ironically, my very first challenge and dismal failure — you can hear that bomb dropping, right… as a Daring Baker was featured in the very same article!) was, in fact, a lemon meringue pie, but oh my goodness. Not like one I’ve seen before: the meringue piped in bold sweeps toward the center making it look like an exotic flower. Amazing.
How did they do that? One would think that meringue is meringue. No big deal. Egg whites and some sugar. Lots of beating. Voila! Right?
An so this challenge will go down in history as being one of great revelation, and defeat. *sigh*
For the recipe, please visit Elle at Feeding my Enthusiasms. It’s past the magic hour now, so she’s the first one I found who has her post up!
Here are my sordid details.
I chose to use my food processor. I’ve become accustomed to it and since Dorie Greenspan gives it her approval, why not? This recipe’s crust is very good. It behaves. I made three small tarts in tins with removable bottoms and three free form tarts, baking them on the same sheet. The shells in the tins were more delicate, and not as crunchy as the free form disks — which were, in my opinon, too hard. You know, kind of like something someone would throw in the Olympics. Of course, I probably left them in the oven a bit too long, so I’ll have to try this again some time. The flavor was great, though, with no complaints coming from the menfolk in the house.
Okay. Confession time. You’d think living in Southern California, I’d have lemons coming out my ears. In fact I went to the store today. Do you think I bought lemons? Nope. But thankfully, I did have some at home — just not enough to squeeze 3/4 cup of juice from. Close, but no cigar. Sooooooo…..I had to use a tangelo to make up the difference. I know. But it’s citrus, right? And I have to tell you, that an entire tangelo squeezed into 2/3’s cup of lemon juice makes quite a pretty sight in the measuring cup colorwise, but in the end, the flavor of the curd was still lemon. But a tangelo meringue pie does sound kind of tasty, doesn’t it?
This curd comes together very nicely. It thickens quickly. In fact, it’s so thick, adding a bit of it to the egg yolks to temper them was interesting, but it worked just fine. It also stays nice and thick while the cook has to mess around with dinner, make sure the crust is not burning, and the meringue is ready to go. The flavor is excellent, and I have lots left over for hmmmm….maybe Peabody & Helene’s doughnuts. With powdered sugar…Mmmm…
Where was I?
I have another confession to make. I made the meringue from the Saveur recipe. I know. I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. Here are my excuses: 1) I helped my mother make her first lemon meringue pie from scratch at Christmas; 2) I made a chocolate meringue pie for my husband for his birthday; and 3) my husband said, "Just make the one in the magazine." I know. I’m supposed to make the one in the recipe we are given. But I looked at the ingredients and the method, and it was nearly exactly like the others. And I was DYING to make the other because it calls for sugar heated to the firm ball stage, and then slowly poured into the egg whites as they are beaten until they cool completely. It’s totally amazing! And I now know that this is THE perfect meringue. PERFECT.
Except I was messing around with candied orange peel and left my tarts in the oven too long! GAH! Like one really needs candied orange peel with one’s lemon meringue pie, doesn’t one? NO. One doesn’t.
That’s what I get for cheating. But still. How could I not do what this man told me to do?
He was doing the laundry for gawdsakes. The hat is courtesy of my sister who wanted him to be warm when we visited her family at Christmas. Don’t even ask why he has it on now.
I learned something new (not that cheaters never prosper…), and that’s what made this challenge fun for me. If you’re interested in trying a different kind of meringue, see what you think. Just don’t burn it like I did.
And don’t forget to check out the other nine gazillion Daring Bakers and their Lemon Meringue Pies!