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Lemon Meringue Pie

Nov 4, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie 
I am obsessed about the lemon meringue pie I had once tasted in a restaurant in Cyprus years ago. Today is the day I will stop craving and start baking. I roll up my sleeves to finally reproduce that same pie by achieving the impossible: making meringue without a mixer. An attempt which will prove futile by the end of the day, but now I am naive enough to think it is doable as long as I whisk egg whites twice as long. I have no problem making the filling, it is done. I had to make the crust (only) thrice, because nobody told me that I have to rest the dough in the fridge to settle. So I keep tearing it while placing it in the cake mould. I blame the quality of the flour and decide to ignore the torn pieces. I am satisfied. 

The meringue? I whisk with a fork, to be exact, whisk and whisk. I hand it to my significant other when my arm feels numb, he whisks and whisks. After half an hour, the egg whites look not any different than they were in the beginning, a light year away from snow white consistency. Turning the bowl upside down to test it? Yeah, right! I give it a chance anyway and coat the pie with the mushy egg whites and pop it in the oven. When done, it goes right into the trash. I blame the oven.

Second try: failure doubled. I blame my significant other for not whisking it as vigorously as I do. That goes into the trash, too. I let my third try be the final. I clean up the kitchen from accumulated mess of 3 pie crusts and 3 meringue attempts, I carefuly place my final product, a misshaped pie with a mushy white "thing" as topping on the kitchen counter separating the living room and the kitchen.  My exhaustion from a day of hard work is dillusioning and it is restraining my ability to judge. To my eyes, it looks pretty all right. I take a breath in relief and am proud. My significant other is taking a break from our adventurous cooking ride and absentmindedly doing head kicks with the plastic ball. It bounces from his head to the table, than on the wanna-be meringue topping. The pie doesn't look that flawless now.

The-making-of-meringue-lemoAhh the idiotic college years! That's all behind now. As my photos prove, I know how to make meringue but most of all I own a mixer. I am at your service, again, dear reader, to test, improvise and consolidate to provide you the best lemon meringue pie recipe. Watch out playing ball next to your meringue. Bon apetit!  

Double-pie  The meringue toppings look much fancier in cake shops but this is the best my clumsy hands could do.
Lemon meringue pie slice 

Lemon Meringue Pie

Kitchenware required:

  • 20-22 cm/8 inch round baking tin

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. With a hand-held mixer whisk butter until creamy. Add flour and rub it into the butter in between your palms to obtain a crumbly mixture. Make a well in the centre, add egg, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
  2. With a hand-held mixer or your hand, blend everything together to form a smooth and soft dough. Roll the dough into a ball. Flour your hands if the dough doesn't come off easily. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F. On a clean, dusted surface, roll the dough into a 28 cm/11 inch diameter disk. With the help of a spatula, place the dough loosely on the baking tin and press gently into the bottom and the sides.
  4. Pierce the bottom of the dough couple of times with a fork. Line the surface with a grease-proof paper and put a handful of dried chickpeas or beans for weight. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Leave to cool at room temperature.
  5. In a sauce pan, mix sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest. Gradually stir in the lemon juice, followed by water. Bring it on medium heat and stirring constantly cook until thick and smooth. When it starts bubbling remove off the heat. Beat in the butter until the butter is melted.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with milk and add it to the sauce pan. Return the pan to medium heat. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside to slightly cool down for 10 minutes and pour it onto the cooled base.
  7. Preheat your oven to 150 C/ 300 F.
  8. Set your mixer to medium speed and whisk egg whites for 5 minutes, until soft peaks form. Add a pinch of salt. Set your mixer to highest speed and gradually add sugar, whisking for 5-8 minutes, until smooth and stiff. Check if sugar is completely dissolved by rubbing your fingers with meringue. Fold in the lemon rind.
  9. Cover the pie with meringue and make small peaks with a spoon. Toast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until meringue turns light brown. (Alternatively, you can brown the meringue with a kitchen torch. If so, extend the baking period in step 4 to 30 minutes)
  10. Serve at room temperature.
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