Friday, December 6, 2013

Lemon Meringue Pie


About Meringue Pie:

Lemon meringue pie is a type of baked pie, usually served for dessert, made with a crust usually made of shortcrustpastry, lemon custard filling and a fluffy meringue topping. Lemon meringue pie is prepared with a bottom pie crust, with the meringue directly on top of the lemon filling. No upper crust is used, as in a cherry pie.
When egg whites are beaten, some of the hydrogen bonds in the proteins break, causing the proteins to unfold ("denature") and to aggregate non-specifically. This change in structure leads to the stiff consistency required for meringues. The use of a copper bowl, or the addition of cream of tartar, is required to additionally denature the proteins to create the firm peaks; otherwise the whites will not be firm. Plastic bowls, wet or greasy bowls will likely result in the meringue mix being prevented from becoming peaky.[citation needed] Wiping the bowl with a wedge of lemon to remove any traces of grease can often help the process.[citation needed]
When beating egg whites, they are classified in three stages according to the peaks they form when the beater is lifted: soft, firm, and stiff peaks.
Sugar substitutes are not useful in meringue. The sugar is necessary to the structure.
Egg whites and sugar are both hygroscopic (water-attracting) chemicals. Consequently, meringue becomes soggy when refrigerated or stored in a high-humidity environment. This quality also explains the problem called "weeping" or "sweating", in which beads of moisture form on all surfaces of the meringue. Sweating is a particular problem for French meringues in which the granulated sugar is inadequately dissolved in the egg whites, and for high-moisture pie fillings.
The lemon custard is usually prepared with egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and starch. This gives it a texture similar to that of a sturdy pudding. The meringue, which includes well beaten egg whites and sugar, is cooked on top of the pie filling. As the meringue bakes, air bubbles trapped inside the protein of the egg whites will expand and swell. However, if the egg whites are beaten too much, or if a tiny amount of fat is allowed to contaminate the mixture, then the proteins will not be able to form the correct molecular structure when cooked, and the meringue may collapse when cooked. The meringue can be beaten into either soft or stiff peaks. The temperature the pie is baked at and the method by which sugar is added also determines the texture and durability of the meringue.



Serves 8


Ingredients:

1 9” Pie Crust, store bought or homemade

For the lemon curd:

1 ½ Cups of Water
1 Cup of Sugar
¼ Cup of Corn Starch
¼ tsp of salt
Zest of 2 large Lemons
Juice of 2 Large Lemons
2 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter
4 egg Yolks, beaten

For the meringue:

4 Egg Whites
6 Tbsp of Confectioner Sugar
¼ tsp of Cream of Tatar

Method:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, spray a 9” tart pan with nonstick cooking spray and lay in the pie crust. Line the inside of the crust with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights or beans. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the foil and beans and continue cooking for 15 minutes.

While the crust bakes make the lemon curd.

2) In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine together the first 6 ingredients and bring to a gentle boil making sure to whisk the entire time so no lumps form.

3) Add the butter and whisk until it melts, add half a cup of the hot sugar mixture to the egg yolks and whisk t get them up to temperature. Add the egg yolk mixture to the pot with the remaining sugar mixture and cook for about 1 more minute constantly whisking. Turn off the heat and set aside.

4) To make the meringue, in a large metal bowl whisk the egg whites and once they are frothy slowly add the sugar and cream of tartar and continue to whisk until they form still peaks.

5) To assemble, pour the lemon curd into the pre baked pie crust and top that with the meringue making sure to form little peaks on the top. Put it back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and brown all over the top.

Let cool 3 hours before slicing.

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