Friday, May 18, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

Hello, my name is Toni and I am a cookbookaholic.  I know that I have a problem and I am the only one who can get control of it...
At least that is how I feel any time someone new comes over to my house and sees my collection of cookbooks.  In the first place (is that really how you are supposed to start a sentence?) I love books.  I love reading books, looking at them, deciding which one to read next, thinking about them, and I have piles of books almost everywhere.  I am working on this though.  I don't have any piles of books in the living room anymore.
Cookbooks in the pantry

 I especially love cookbooks.  I read them cover to cover, like you would a good novel.  I think about the recipes, when I might make them, who I would make them for, how I might change them, and how I would learn this or that new technique.  I have one favorite called Boot Camp Baking I've read from cover to cover a couple of times, then refer to the recipes on a regular basis.  I have all the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, three Ellie Krieger, three Sandra Lee, four vegetarian (those don't get used a lot), three Tosca Reno Clean Eating cookbooks, two Picture Perfect Meals cookbooks, The Joy of Cooking (the old version), Julia Child's The Way to Cook,  Biterman's How to Cook everything and the list goes on.  For the words, "I need this cookbook," to come out of my mouth is so ridiculous! But they do, and I buy cookbooks, I have a list of cookbooks I want, and my dear husband often purchases cookbooks for me.
Cookbooks in the kitchen

So act really surprised...
I have a new cookbook.  It is The Back in the Day Bakery.  After reading the cookbook cover to cover, I decided this would be a pie summer.  In the past, I have used the red box for pie crust (gasp!) but I have been shamed into learning how to make my own.  There is one recipe I found that uses vodka (my kind of recipe) and there are two different versions in TBITDB cookbook.  I was ready to start.

My first summer pie was the lemon meringue pie, and if this pie is any indication of how good these recipes are, I'm gonna need bigger pants.  WOW!  It was so delicious.  I told the boys across the street to tell mom they could come over for dessert after dinner and about 10 minutes later the boys and their mom were there ready to have dessert before dinner (I love the way she thinks).  We had dessert and it was so good, and we were eating so fast, I forgot to take pictures of the cut pie!  We also ate the whole thing.  O.K. there were 7 of us and I sent 2 pieces home with my mother-in-law. I had planned on taking 1/2 to work the next day so I would have witnesses, but no.  So you have to take my word on how worth it it is to make it (can I put any more of the word it into this sentence?).  It is lemony, sweet, tart with a pile of billowy sweet meringue on top...ahhhh, heaven.
I hope you enjoy the beginning of pie summer.

Lemon Meringue Pie
from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Lemon Custard
6 large eggs separated (yolks for the lemon custard, whites for the meringue)
1.5 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 pie crust - baked

6 egg whites (see above)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  In a small bowl lightly whisk the egg yolks, set aside.
In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Set the pan over medium heat and gradually add 1 1/4 cups water and the milk, whisking until smooth.  Continue to whisk until the mixture begins to boil, 4 to 5 minutes, then whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.  Remove from the heat.

To temper eggs, add about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously so the yolks do not curdle, then pour the warmed egg yolk mixture into the rest of the milk mixture and set over low heat.

Whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice, then simmer, whisking until the custard is thick and glossy and has the consistency of pudding, 6 to 8 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook the custard: it will burn or curdle if the heat is too high.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted and fully incorporated.  Pour the custard into the prebaked crust and set aside while you make the meringue.

For meringue:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on low speed for 1 minute, until the egg whites begin to thicken and look frothy.  Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.  Add the confectioners' sugar and whip on medium speed until the meringue is still and glossy; t should form still peaks that hold their shape when you lift the whisk out of the bowl.

Spread meringue over the top of the entire surface of the pie, making sure it touches the crust all around.  Pile the meringue on top and use a spatula to spread it in big swirls.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until the meringue is golden brown.

Remove pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.  It is best served the same day, but can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

May 18, 2012     Daylight  19 hours,  3 minutes,  57 seconds     Current Temp. 57 ºF

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