Lemon meringue always holds a special place in my heart, even as a chocolate lover I would never say no to a lemon meringue pie. There’s just something about the sweet and sometimes slightly crunchy meringue paired with the tangy sour lemon curd that makes lemon meringue pie such a refreshing dessert. I’ve baked a lot of things, but I haven’t been adventurous enough to try pies or puff pastries (especially puff pastries since there’s so much work involved) so I thought it was time to move to something more advanced.
I followed the recipe from a baking book I bought for dirt cheap at last year’s BBW sale (best place to look for expensive cookbooks as they slash 70-80% off the list price) for the meringue and pie crust and combined it with a recipe I found online for microwave lemon curd. In hindsight, the microwave lemon curd was probably not the best idea since it ended up probably being more work than cooking the lemon curd on a stove top. The recipe suggested we stick the lemon mixture in the microwave for 1 minute every interval but after every minute in the microwave the curd still looked the same did not stick to the back of the spoon in a way we expected it to.
Pie crust was also more difficult to make than I expected, probably because I didn’t have a large enough bowl and I wasn’t really sure what type of consistency was required.
I prepared a recipe for baked pie shell and divided it into 12 parts and lined a muffin pan, to make mini pie shells.
Recipe for Baked Pastry Shell
From Anyone Can Bake (Better Homes and Gardens)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea sized.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the flour mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened pastry to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Form pastry into a ball.
- On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten pastry. Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.
- Cut pastry into 12 squares that will fit on your muffin pan and prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork.
- Line each pastry with double thickness of foil.
- Bake in a 450F oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil.
- Bake for another 5 or 6 minutes or until golden. Set aside.
Microwave Lemon Curd (yields about 2 cups of curd)
My Baking Addiction
1 cup white sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest and butter.
- Cook in the microwave on full power for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute. This process will take about 3-5 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. You will know the lemon curd is done cooking when it coats the back of a metal spoon.
- Remove from the microwave, push through a fine mesh sieve and pour into sterile jar.
Meringue for Pie
From Anyone Can Bake (Better Homes and Gardens)
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (I used baking powder as a substitute)
1 cup fine granulated sugar
- Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- In a very large mixing bowl combine egg whites, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl).
- Gradually add 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed about 6 minutes more or until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks and sugar dissolves.
Preheat oven to 325F. Fill pie shells (still in the muffin pan) with lemon curd about half full, drop about a tablespoonful of meringue on the still hot filling (this is important to make sure the base of the meringue cooks so that weeping won’t occur). Using the back of a spoon, add high peaks to the meringue. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Chill for 5 to 6 hours before serving.
The result was okay for my first attempt, except the pie crust was a little tough (I think I definitely overworked it by kneading it too much), but I had more problems with the meringue. I ended up underwhipping it and perhaps baking soda wasn’t a very good substitute for cream of tartar because the meringue started rising at an alarming rate in the oven and made it difficult for me to remove it from the muffin pan. Also, the meringue developed beads of brown liquid after a while, not sure what caused it – whether it was putting it in the fridge too early or the filling was too hot or something. Still trying to figure that one out.
Had a lot of leftover lemon curd, might try my hand at lemon macarons next!