Monday, January 28, 2008

My Very First Daring Bakers Challenge: Lemon Meringue Pie

I've been stoking Daring Bakers for a while, but never felt brave enough to join them. Is not that I'm bad baker in general, but only when it comes to bake a pastry, cakes... It takes discipline, precision, patients that I simply do not have. With cooking you can always improvise, but with cakes... it still quantum physics for me...

Nevertheless, last December something strange happened to me and I joined DB. Well, not exactly. I got ill and I couldn't participate at December challenge. I felt like it was a message from "above" that baking is not for me. That pissed me off and I decided that nothing could stop me of participating in January challenge, not even me being ill again!

So last Saturday, although I had temperature and feeling slightly weak, I gathered all my strength and confronted the evil three: the Lemon, the Meringue and the Pie!

As DB rules request I followed the recipe without any complain, I didn't ask "Why this?", I didn't think of giving up, not even in the most painful moments when dough seemed stronger then me... I continued... not even the extreme mess (that somehow just happened in my kitchen) couldn't stop me... the flour was flaying around, lemon juice flow from counter top, sugar rolled over the floor... but after that tough battle... here it is... my very first Daring Bakers challenge finished!

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you... Lemon Meringue Pie!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces

2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water

1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar

½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup (60 mL) butter

¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature

½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.


SweetDesigns said...

Congrats on your first challenge!! Your pie looks great =)!~

linda said...

Wonderful first challenge! Hope you feel better and that next month you'll be completely healthy for your 2nd challenge!

Deborah said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers. Congrats on completing your first challenge!!

Andrea said...

Oh, sorry to hear that you were sick, but it looks like you did a great job on the challenge. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Dolores said...

Welcome to the madness, and congratulations on completing your first challenge. Get used to *lots* of dirty dishes with seems to be part of the territory.

Anonymous said...

svaka cast na hrabrosti sto si se pridruzila daring bakers! :D

Anonymous said...

Congrats on completing your first challenge! Looks great!

FreshAdriaticFish said...

Thanks all of you!
I already feel better, and it's fun to be DB! I can already feel my "baking confidence" growing.
But, we will see what will happen with my second challenge!
Looking forward!

Lunch Buckets said...

Congratulations on your first success!

Claire said...

Glad you were able to finish your first challenge even if you were a bit under the weather! Your pie is great and the meringue didn't pull away a bit! Hope you enjoyed your pie.

creampuff said...

We're so glad you joined us! Well done!