Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge - Lemon Meringue Pie

If these don't look like pie, you would be correct, sir. In my year making desserts in an Indiana tearoom, I had to make two lemon meringue pies every Thursday morning for one customer who would always request them. So when Jen at The Canadian Baker picked lemon meringue pie for our January challenge, I knew I would be trying some of the alternatives.

Now I'm finding myself wondering how many Daring Bakers are named Jen. Hmm!

The tartlet you see in the front is the option we were given along with the challenge - freestyle lemon meringue tartlets. These were basically circles of the pastry, baked, with lemon curd scooped on top and surrounded by meringue. I decided they would look pretty as flowers and squeezed the meringue out of a ziploc bake in a flowerlike pattern.

The smaller tart in the back was just a teeny pie, basically. I had these four cute tart pans that have been begging me to be used in a recipe, any recipe, so I made four little tarts and four freestyle tartlets. I had a lot of everything left, but am putting on a tea this afternoon, so the lemon curd will be lovely for that.

This recipe was pretty good. I thought the crust was perfect, and the lemon curd was a wonderful texture, although it had quite a few more random steps than the one I usually make (cool the water for 5 minutes?) - I know several bakers had issues with the firmness of the curd, but I have to admit that once I got to a certain point I was going entirely by feel since I have made lemon curd so many times. I even got to use a flat silicone whisk that I got for the holidays, so was geeking out a little because of the new toy.

My only issue with the recipe is the salt level of the finished product. I may have waited too long to add it to the meringue, but regardless, the taste was visible, and way too much.

Closeup of lemon curd
(See? Perfect texture!)

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
⅓ 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.

Daring Bakers Extra Challenge
Free-Style Lemon Tartlets

Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF.

Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks. Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

Pie recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
Tartlet recipe courtesy of Ripe for Dessert by David Lebovitz, 2003

Daring Bakers Blue Logo
If you are curious to see other renditions, please check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll. We just keep growing and growing!

Some of my favorites include bakers who worked in other fruits - blueberry sauces, blackberry coulis, yum!

Categories: Daring Bakers, Lemon, Meringue, Pie, Tart


April said...

Wonderful job! They look lovely!

Karen Baking Soda said...

It sure looks different with the small fluffed disk, I think my kids would've loved the bite size. Nice idea, great execution!

Peabody said...

Yeah, I noticed she didn't post the recipe either...odd.
Anyway, I like the look of the free-form tarts.

Anonymous said...

Flower tartlet : beautiful !

Deborah said...

They look perfect! I wish I would have tried the free form tarts.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Lovely job on these tarteletts. Simply awesome!

Annemarie said...

I think it's brave of you to take on making the pie when you must have felt up to your eyeballs in LMP from your cincinatti days. Mmmm, extra curd...

Jenny said...

Lovely, both the tarts and the little pie.
PS Jen always puts a link at the bottom of her posts that lead to the recipe on a separate page. I checked this one, and it's there.

glamah16 said...

Perfect freeform tarts! Your a pr and it shows.

Andrea said...

Your tarts look perfect!

Gigi said...

Picture perfect tarts! The curd looks absolutely divine!

Pixie said...

They look wonderful, well done!

The Fast Lane said...

Hi Jen,
I especially liked the way the tart in the front came out. How beautiful. I'm surprized you had it in you to bake another after having made so many in the past. I get bored after a while!
Jane of

Anonymous said...

I love your pies, they are so cute!

Glad you didn't have any issues with the lemon curd like me!

Anonymous said...


let me know if you try the naan and how it works out for you. x

Cheryl said...

Great job. I love the way you did the meringue.

Miss Ifi said...

Your little tarts and mini pies are AWESOME!! very nice looking, so CONGRATULATIONS on your challenge!

Dolores said...

Great job on the free form tarts. You are a braver woman than I. When I get around to this challenge (after I ditch this post holiday sinus gunk and don't risk infecting my happy tasters) I'm most definitely going to use forms. :)

Unknown said...

You're right...all of that looks like the perfect texture! I didn't notice too much salt but I didn't measure, either!

Steph said...

Hi Baking Soda!

I was recently memed, and love looking at your blog, so when I was asked to meme 5 other bloggers I knew I had to meme you! Please visit for the "meming" instructions :)

Happy Baking,
Cupcake My Love

Anonymous said...

I love the flat tartlet. Wish my crust was as nice as yours!

kitten said...

i love your little cloud tarts ! you must be tired of making lemon meringue... good job !

Jen Yu said...

Oooh, I like your free form tarts! They really do have that perfect texture. Great job :)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about the "cool the water for 5 minutes" step. Just a bit fussy...

But your's look so good! Looking at all these LMP makes me want to make another pie.

kate said...

i'm so jealous that you had perfect crust!

thanks for coming to my blog and for the welcome.
: )

Mandie said...

Your tarts look wonderful!

Tempered Woman said...

You geeked out a little bit? Too funny! That made me smile. I love using my new toys as well. I really like the flower pattern~ great idea. Nice tarts!

Lisa K said...

I love how you cut the lemons for the pic. Beautiful!!

Tracy said...

Your tartlet looks perfect! Great job!

Anonymous said...

Really adorable little tarts!

Mary said...

Your freestyle tart looks amazing! (And yes, it did make me feel better about pie making skills skipping a generation!)

Gabi said...

Your "flower petal" meringue is beautiful. As is the small tart! A Tea is one of my favorite treats- I'm ready for one now. I was a little hesitant about the flat disks in the free form tarts but yours are lovely.

Anonymous said...

Your lemon curd looks to die for!!! Great job!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your tartlets look great! Very well done!



Lunch Buckets said...

Beautiful! Love the baby pies :)

Eva said...

Your free-form tarts really live up to the occasion! I had been to scared that the lemon filling would be allover the place..;-)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Yes your pie does have the perfect texture! I would have loved the bite size little tarts!!!!!!!..just enough for one!!!!!!!

Molly Loves Paris said...

That side picture of your tartlet just makes me what to grab it and take a bite. It's nice to hear that a pro found the recipe very workable.

Meryl said...

Your meringue looks like little fluffy clouds! Glad someone liked the lemon curd as much as I did!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Well done! They look wonderful!



Sheltie Girl said...

Your tarts are simply beautiful. Great job and I'm glad you got to try out your little tart pans.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

eatme_delicious said...

Very cute tartlets! Thanks for the tip about how to improve my dough. :)

Wendy said...

Your tarts are too cute. Wow, what a great place to work - a tearoom. What else do you use lemon curd for? Biscuits or scone? I never have had it outside of LMP. Your pies are wonderful. Wendy