Happy Pi(e) Day!
Today is March 14th, also known as 3/14…the three first numerals of Π (pi). So that would make today Pi Day! So of course, I baked my very own pie to celebrate!
Prompted by Krysta of Evil Chef Mom, this was my very first time making a pie (so thanks Krysta!) I chose to make my favorite kind: lemon meringue, not realizing just how ambitious a project this was for my very first pie. But we all know, I like to make things as complicated as possible.
The truth is I think my pie actually came out quite beautifully….at first. It’s just that in transport to its final destination, it came across a few “bumps” in the road and may have exploded on one side.
It all began with meyer lemons and this lemon pie recipe. I had never bought, nor baked with meyer lemons either before so I thought this would be a great time to pile on the “firsts”.
They were beautiful and easy to work with. Since I was squeezing lemon juice out of them, it was great to work with juicy sweet and easily squeezable lemons.
But I guess we should rewind. The first step was actually to make the solution I would add the lemons to. A little sugar water and cornstarch paste later, we get:
Ok, now it’s time to squeeze the lemon juice and add it to some separated egg yolks. It’s perfect because as I’m sure you’d guess, the egg whites will be used later for the meringue.
The meyer lemon aroma when mixed with the egg yolks was already satisfying, I swore to myself I’d buy them three times over.
Now, we add the egg lemon mixture to our sugar-cornstarch mixture…
Give it a good mix and then take it off the heat. Add some butter and lemon zest when it’s just warm and then let that sit for awhile so it becomes lukewarm. On to the meringue!
This recipe called for beating egg whites and sugar. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know if “beat” literally meant use beaters or just give it a good mix. I chose to go with the beaters and in all uncertainty switched it up between the “whip, mix and stir” speeds.
Eventually it did form the glossy peaks I was after but I still wasn’t sure if it was too liquidy. I kept beating…and just pretended everything was ok. Next, my lemon part of the pie filling was ready (or so I thought) so I decided to fill up the pie.
I had to pat it down, it was almost overflowing! I was worried I made enough for two pies and just didn’t realize it but at this point it was too late so I just went with it (even though I hate when most of the pie is lemon!) Next, came the better part, the meringue…
I didn’t have room for too much on top but did the best I could. I tried making a nice pattern by lifting up peaks with my spoon, and then into the oven it went:
The recipe said to bake it for 15 minutes. I did and then found this beautiful thing waiting for me in the oven. Knowing I like the peaks to be a little more brown, I waited just a few minutes longer.
…which was probably my mistake!
The meringue came out all brown and even sort of crusty on the top. Guess I should have made higher peaks or just taken it out of the oven like the recipe called for. It didn’t look too terrible at first (see above photo) until it almost exploded in transit like so:
The lemon filling nearly leaked out the side and the meringue’s crusty top became more and more apparent. I was sure I failed.
Until I tasted it. The meringue was actually light and airy beneath the thin crusty layer and the lemon filling actually tasted wonderful.
Things I would fix for next time:
1. Bake for exactly 15 minutes.
2. Use less sugar since the meyer lemons are inherently sweeter.
3. Make less lemon filling so the ratio of lemon to meringue is better, and the pie doesn’t explode.
4. Read about how best to “beat” meringue.
And that’s it! You bake and learn, am I right??
Happy Pie Day everyone! Enjoy your 3.14!
I used meyer lemons with this recipe, which means some of the sugar can be cut out. Make sure not to overbake!
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 1/2 C. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. cornstarch
1/3 C. water
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 C. lemon juice
3 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. sugar
Baked 9 pie shell
Combine sugar, 1 1/2 C. water and salt in saucepan heat to boiling. Mix cornstarch and 1/3 C. water to make smooth paste add to boiling mixture gradually, stirring constantly cook until thick and clear. Remove from heat. Combine egg yolks and lemon juice stir into thickened mixture. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles again. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon peel. Cover and cool until lukewarm.
For meringue, add salt to egg whites beat until frothy. Gradually add 1/2 c. sugar, beating until glossy peaks are formed. Stir 2 rounded Tbs. of meringue into lukewarm filling. Pour filling into cool pie shell. Pile remaining meringue on top and spread lightly over filling, spreading evenly to edge of crust. Bake in slow oven 325 degrees about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on rack at least 1 hour before cutting.