Monday, January 28, 2008

Pie with the Daring Bakers

So part of the reason I started this blog was so that I could join that super cool group of Daring Bakers. Over the last several months, I've watched them make all sorts of daring and fantastic things, where I alternately commented to myself, "I could do that if I had to", or "Oh I bet that's really good to eat". Last month I happily challenged myself, with delicious results, making the Yule Log. So this month I eagerly awaited the secret announcement of what we were going to make. The lovely Jen, The Canadian Baker who's hosting this month declared we would be making Lemon Meringue Pie!

gulp

Pie. "Oh boy," I thought. "I do not want to make pie." I don't like pie. Pie has the dreaded one two punch of fruit and crust. Crust is tasteless and if made wrong gummy. And fruit is yucky. My mom can make excellent pies. She used to whip out blueberry pies and apple pies all summer. Every year for her birthday instead of cake she would have cherry pie. When I was young she would make lemon meringue pies piled high with yummy meringue. Wait a minute I thought. Out of all the pies, I actually don't mind lemon meringue pie. It's not so bad, other than the crust part. Maybe this would work out OK.

Crust has always been my nemesis. I have had several people try to show me how to make crust. And always, when attempting it by myself it fails. The edges burn. The top becomes transparent. It's miserable. My mom suggested I try Grandma's secret recipe (Jiffy Pie Crust Mix). Instead I started trying the Pillsbury refrigerated already made pie crust. I can't even say that always turns out for me. My poor poor husband loves pie and I just haven't been able to deliver. He says I get an A for effort, but still it has been a crushing defeat in my baking skills.

So imagine, if you will, my trepidation when Lemon Meringue Pie was announced to be our challenge this month. That is a challenge indeed. But I decided that this was the nature of the beast. That I would have to try at least to make this lemon meringue pie. As word started to spread, in not so polite fashion, about how people were having trouble with this recipe, two thoughts came to mind. First, I was determined that I would succeed at this if it killed me, because I felt so bad that so many people were being so negative about the recipe. And second, I had better make this early because so many people were having trouble and pies are definitely not the easiest thing in the world for me to bake.

So after carefully taping my recipe to the cupboards and measuring as exactly as I could, I set out to make the crust. It has butter in it. I'd never seen a crust recipe with butter in it. I love butter. Pie crust with butter in it couldn't be that bad. I'd just think of it as a cookie. That made me have less of an aversion to baking it. And really when all was said and done, it tasted more cookie like than any pie crust I've ever made before. Unfortunately the recipe is for a 10inch pie. I don't have a 10inch pie pan. Walmart didn't sell them. So I went with a 9inch pie and 11 little tartlettes. Basically I squished leftover crust in square cupcake molds. Then I stuck them all in the oven with beans to weight them down and waited until they were golden brown. For the sake of making sure they were done, I sampled one of the tartlette crusts. Not too shabby, I thought, for pie crust anyway.

Next came the filling. Again I measured carefully, horrified by the amount of cornstarch. Carefully I cooked the filling and then it happened. I came to the point where I've seen thinner wallpaper paste and it kept getting thicker and how was I going to tell if this stuff was boiling because holy crap it was thick and bubbles weren't going to be able to get to the surface! Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was probably only about a minute or two, a bubble came to the surface and I declared it boiled. Then with the eggs tempered and added it was a beautiful yellow color. By the end it tasted so delicious and lemony that I was back to my early thought of merely, oops, forgetting the crust and just eating the filling and meringue. Shoot, I wouldn't mind just eating the filling.


I filled my 10 remaining tartlette shells with a blob (that would be the technical term) each of the lovely lemon filling and spooned the rest into the pie. Meringue has never been a problem for me so I happily whisked the living daylights out of my egg whites to form pillowy white meringue. Slapping that meringue on the pie and the little tarts was a lot of fun. Being that my pie had actual come out, shall we call it, "rustic" from my inability to crimp correctly, I thought it would look ridiculous to try piping and getting all fancy. So I just spread it on with a spatula and tried to make as many happy little peaks as I could. I asked the Brain if I could borrow his blowtorch, but he made me use my tiny little kitchen torch and supervised to make sure the only things I was toasting were the pie and the tartlettes.

Over all, I'm super pleased with how the pie and tartlettes came out. They were delicious. I know, pie being delicious is a concept I'm trying to work my brain around. I gave the big pie to my friend S. who's family devoured it. The Brain and I each had 2 of the tartlettes and stuck the rest in the freezer. Every so often we'd pull 2 out to thaw while I'd make dinner and we'd have a lovely dessert.

So thank you Jen for a fantastic challenge that I can honestly say I would have never tried if I hadn't joined the Daring Bakers. And I'm glad I tried it. For the recipe check out Jen's blog. And for the hundreds of other Daring Bakers and their attempts at Lemon Meringue Pie check out the Daring Baker Blogroll, here.

35 comments:

Deborah said...

It sounds like it was a success!! Wonderful job!

slush said...

Its adorable. Im so glad it turned out for you. Im jealous though! :P Great job!!

KJ said...

I'm glad it all came together for you. There is nothing like the feeling of success.

Comfort Joy Designs said...

How fun! Your tartlets look soo cute!

breadchick said...

That filling is super isn't it! Great job on your challenge.

glamah16 said...

I love your first pic. It looks like a swan to me. See you did it!

Angel said...

Your pie looks amazing, and here you were scared. Haha now you have dominated one crust all crusts shall now bow before you. Hope the next challenge is just as successful for us both!!

sher said...

I'm kicking myself because I didn't make tartlets. Yours are adorable!! Love the meringue.

Pixie said...

Wonderful entry, love your writing style and fabulous looking pies too!

bbaking said...

maybe you are converted into a pie maker now?
They look fantastic!!

Barbara said...

I Like rustic. Well done.

Bellini Valli said...

Great second challenge!!! I feel the same way about pie crust. I'm sure there is a commandment against me touching the stuff....but in true DB fashion we conquered!!

Joy said...

I love your mini rustic pies and I think it's very worthy of you to sample the mini pie crusts to check they were ok before filling. True dedication!

aamena said...

hey i saw your square tartlet on the DB blog way back and thought it looked really cute! the big looks nice too!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

It looks great! I would say you have overcome your pie issues! :)

Barbara said...

For someone who feared making pie, you did a heck of a job! Well done.

Shella said...

Hey Mary, I am here thru Cynthia's blog. You pie looks like a complete sucess. Great job!! You have a very nice blog, n I love the name you've give it.

Susan said...

I've been reading a lot of these LMP posts and many people say they've never made lemon meringue, some say they've never eaten it, and a few say they've never seen it. But you're the first I've seen that doesn't even like pie at all! :-) Nice job, glad you liked it in the end, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

auntie jo said...

well done mary! your tartlet is just fine ;-)

Katie said...

Your pie turned out wonderfully. Well done for overcoming your fear of the crust. I too could ahve happily eaten the entire lemon filling with a spoon.

Tempered Woman said...

You are too funny. I like the idea of a rustic pie personally. And I agree~ it seemed to take HOURS for that filling but I was bound and determined to not have runny filling! HAH!
Great job & congrats on your 2nd challenge.

Andrea said...

Good for you for giving it a try! Your little tarts look adorable, and it sounds like you are conquering your fear of pie crust.

Meeta said...

A great success! They look great. Nice job on this!

Cynthia said...

Congratulations on completing your first task!

kitten said...

great job. the meringue on your cute little tarts look like little swans! lovely.

wmpe said...

Your LMP looks great. I find every month challenges my skill level and 'forces' me to try something I wouldn't do on my own. I am glad your LMP was a success. DBrs is the reason I started a blog too. Wendy

Jen Yu said...

How awesome they look! You did such a nice job on those tartelettes!!

Gabi said...

Good for you- you stretched yourself a little and make a beautiful pie to boot! :)
I always use butter in my crusts-I don't like the greasy shortening version.
Excellent!
xoxo

Peabody said...

That first one looks like a work of art...very cool.

Quellia said...

Yeah, another convert! Beautiful work on the browning of your meringue, it looks great!

Jenny said...

I'm not sure if it helps, but my Mom claims that pie-making skips a generation. At least, that is what she always told me when she made me make the pies for the holidays. :)

Lis said...

Awww I loved this post! hahahaa you crack me up! :)

I'm so happy it all worked out nicely and that you liked the pie! Yay!

Beautiful job, sweetie :)

xoxo

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Hooray Mary! So glad you enjoyed the pie. Yes, I licked so much of that filling I nearly fell out.
Really an incredible recipe to get so many results!!

Dolores said...

You made a pie... And you enjoyed both the process and the result! Congratulations!

(I love the little square ones)

Claire said...

Glad you enjoyed it. It's always fun to try something you wouldn't have normally made!