Sweet Tart I Love You…Daring Bakers Challenge Lemon Meringue Pie

They look sweet and innocent don’t they? Those are the ones you always have to watch out for

my mother always warned me!
In my four months as a Daring Baker I have never seen people get worked up over something as they did with this pie /tart .When Jen at Canadian Baker announced her topic as host this month reactions were varied. It seemed as if some were disappointed in this pies simplicity.But don’t judge a book by its cover! A natural reaction after all of our creative juices were let loose on the Yule Logs prior. I welcomed the challenge as I love lemons and need to work on pie crust skills.A very nice crust I must say!

For the record I have not liked lemon meringue pie for most of my life. My mother loved it and used this recipe with Real Lemon. I found the taste weird. Every now and then I found a lemon dessert I liked, but for the most part I stayed away from it. Certain Someone admits its never his favorite flavor.He likes chocolate naturally! Give me lemons in my teas, salads, fish,etc. and I’ll run to it. In dessert I approach with caution and may be just inclined to like it. The glamah gal I am decided to use those famous Meyer Lemons everyone goes on about. Expensive , but so juicy and good!Only the best for my tartlettes.All that said this pie/tart didn’t disappoint. I loved it. I loved it so much I didn’t want to waste any of tartlettes and tried to find them good homes while they were fresh. Time was of the essence because these babies only look and taste good young, but who wants an old soggy tart. So Hollywood, so 15 minutes of fame!Soon they would be all washed up and experiencing a meltdown.My greedy self popped a few over a time and even the Mister said they taste good. Those sweet thangs managed to seduce him for a moment.I could have dropped my tartletts ! So thanks Jen for zesting up our lives in this dreary winter.Next month we will move on to the next hot pastry.It may be sweet, it may be savory. Kind of like, do you gravitate to Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston.I myself like the femme fatale type.But we will always remember those pies. Check out the other Daring Bakers and see their experience.

Challenge Requirements:1. Pie flavor must be lemon

Allowed Modifications:

1. You may make either the pie or the Lemon Meringue Free Form Tartlets (recipe follows Lemon Meringue Pie)

2. You can compliment your pie with a sauce. For example, you can serve it with raspberry or white chocolate sauce.

3. You can use a piping bag to apply the meringue if you like

4. Decoration is up to you – lemon zest or fruit are totally acceptable.

5. High altitude modifications are allowed as long as you stay “true” to the recipe.

6. Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. is allowed.

7. Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in your region.

Lemon Meringue Pie courtesy of Wanda’s Pie In The Sky by Wanda Beaver 2002

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces

2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt

1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water

1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarh

5 egg yolks, beaten

1/4 cup (60 mL) butter

3/4 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

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar

1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make 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 1/8 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 1/2 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.

To Make 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.

To Make 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(from “Ripe for Dessert” by David Lebovitz)

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.