I am really not gifted for anything pastry. It is rather the domain of my dear mother. I have therefore researched the Internet to find ideas for Lemon Meringue Pie, my friend Patricia has asked me to try.
I found more than 20 recipes and it really took me use to me all my "self control" not to try all of them. I also decided that instead of a big pie I would be making smaller versions.
So here is what I concocted. Half of the tarts were made with buttery puff pastry and the other half with sweet shortcrust pastry. I did not take any pictures of the making of puff pastry because I heard so many horror stories about making it that I had to concentrate very hard and therefore I did not have the time.
I have used French website for the pastry recipes I used this website: www.cakeinthecity.blogspot.com and www.patiss.com. But Dean Brettschneider’s website offers both recipes that are very similar (the quantities vary but the execution is the same): http://www.nzbaker.co.nz/pastries.htm.
If I could add a little tip that I use and that i find very good for pastry. Since the butter needs to be ice cold, it can be a little difficult to work with and especially to crumb with flour. I have found that grating it (with a cheese grater) always helps. The part that you have to hold needs to stay in the wrapping to prevent the butter from melting too quickly.
For the lemon cream: http://www.meilleurduchef.com/cgi/MDC/l/FR/recettes/index_ill.html. Another French website. It is a lemon curd recipe but I thought this was pretty easy to execute that’s why I went for this one. So here is the translated recipe:
Put aside the zest of 3 lemons and their juice. In a bowl (not plastic), mix the lemon juice, the zest, the (150g) sugar and the (3) whole eggs.
Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water. Now, this is the trick for making curd: DO NOT TAKE YOUR ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE CURD!!!! Keep moving it with a wooden spoon. I used the same technique I used when I make custard. To make sure it is cooked, I coat the back of the spoon and then with my finger I separate it. If the mixture doesn’t move the custard/ curd is cooked.
Add 30 grams of butter at the end and leave it to cool a little. Place a plastic wrap so it touches the top of the curd to avoid a skin building over it.
And for the meringue… It is possible to make a simple meringue, beat the whites of eggs in soft peak and slowly add sugar until the egg whites are shinny. Personally I prefer the Italian meringue. The only difficulty is that you need to have a stand up mixer or someone to help you. I found this wonderful recipe by Tyler Florence:
• 1 cup superfine sugar
• 1/3 cup water
• 5 egg whites, at room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
In a small pot over low heat, combine sugar and water. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. Do not stir. Increase the heat and boil to soft- ball stage(235 to 240 degrees). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides, falling in and causing a chain reaction. Prepare your meringue.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs whites on low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks form.
With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over fluffed egg whites. Beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. Spread the meringue over a hot cake or pie, and put in very hot oven until it's caramelized.
For the verdict: for the moment, the only one who has tasted a pie is my husband. He did not want the meringue top, instead he poured some fresh cream and stated that it was the best pie lemon that he has ever eaten. I have taken them to work for my last day (I officially am a full time Mum now) and I'll post other comments after my colleagues have tasted them...
I was really disappointed when I got them out of the container. I didn’t let them cool down enough and the pastry went soggy .
I also had another one with the rest of pie crust and I decided to try another pie: pie with chocolate and raspberry jam. My husband on the other hand stated that it was too sweet and the next time I should use raspberries and not jam. It would also been better after a whole night in the fridge. If you want the recipe, do not hesitate to ask.