Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Baker, Round 2

Believe it or not (and I opt for not), it is again Daring Baker time. This month’s challenge is Lemon Meringue Pie. Since I am not a fan of lemon curd or meringue, I was not particularly excited about this month’s challenge. But I decided I would not let this stop me.
I started the recipe Sunday, the 27th, by baking the tartlet crusts and making the filling. The crust was super easy to make—I used my Cuisinart as I find it so much easier than a pastry blender. I rolled out and cut six 5-inch circles of dough and baked them until they were just browned along the edges. The recipe does not call for pricking the pastry dough, so I was a little nervous since all pre-baked crusts I have made in the past have risen a little. I ended up nervous for no reason—they turned out nicely. I think I may have rolled the dough a little too thin, but they look good nonetheless.
The filling was definitely not like any lemon curd I have made in the past. I ordinarily use it as a sauce, and so it doesn’t need to “gel” as much as the filling for the pie needs to. I just wasn’t expecting it to be SO thick. It made it very difficult to temper the egg yolks. I was very grateful my husband wasn’t too far away so I could yell for help when trying to pour, scrape out and stir all at once. I let the filling and crusts sit overnight (yes, the filling was in the fridge) so that I could finish them Monday. I didn’t want them to go soggy and couldn’t deliver them until Monday. Since neither me nor my husband like the desserts, they found homes elsewhere. It was either that or the garbage. And I try not to waste food.
I found the meringue very easy to make. I just used my Kitchen Aid to whip them up. Perhaps since last month’s challenge also included meringue, I wasn’t too afraid of making it at the last minute. It turned out perfectly.
So now for the assembly: I opted for 3 tartlets. First the crust. Next the curd. And finally the meringue. The curd, although I thought too thick last night, didn’t seem to mound as highly as I was hoping. The meringue made up for it. I spooned it on, thick; then created extra peaks by touching the spoon to the top. I was pretty pleased with the way they looked. I baked them for only half the recommended time. They were done on the outside in only 7 minutes and I don’t want them to be burned. I am assuming they will be quite undercooked inside due to baking for only half the time and having cold filling.
In a twist of events, I decided to not give them away. Oh, don’t worry…I did not eat them. I tried the curd and it tasted way too egg-y for my taste and it appears that I scrambled some of the yolks. The curd/lemon custard recipe was by far the most difficult one I have made—and I have made many custards and find them easy. They usually aren’t as thick, making them easier to mix and I can put them through a sieve to eliminate any lumps. I was afraid I wouldn’t have any curd if I tried the sieve method.
Overall, I am glad I didn’t promise the dessert to any friends. I would have been embarrassed to serve it to them. But, since I didn’t really have to purchase any ingredients, I guess it was a good learning experience. I’m crossing my fingers to bake something I really enjoy in February.

P.S. I still haven't figured out how to post photos. :( I am going to do this sometime tonight.

Here's the recipe:

Lemon Meringue Pie
(from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008

Host: Jen (Canadian Baker)

Posting Date: Monday January 28, 2008 (Note: The challenge recipe needs to remain a secret until the post date. We all post on the same day. You may post as soon as it is January 28th where you are.)

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
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) cornstarch
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.

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.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Late Yule Log Posting

You know how they say, Better Late Than Never? Well, I think they are right.

I made the Yule Log December 25th and it turned out delicious! Everyone loved the way it looked, even before the buttercream frosting.

I'm hoping I can post photos, as I haven't quite figured that out yet. Here goes:

So I only get error messages...I will try later!