A few days ago, I indulged in once again, my bizarre obsession with baking pies — in this case, a lemon meringue pie.
To begin, I introduce you to a lemon tree that grows in the backyard of my childhood house. Lemons simply explode out of this tree during the warm sunny months:
Aren’t they nice? I used the juice from these lemons for my pie, which by the way, I took to a potluck this past weekend (HOLLA!). While it tasted fine, I have a few words to say about meringue. I’ve made four lemon meringue pies by now and I’d say only one out of those four were truly successful. Here’s a photo of the winner here:
Isn’t it a beauty? Most recently however, I baked this little guy:
Not sure if ugly florescent kitchen lighting is what’s making this pie look less appealing but I could definitely tell it’s not as chipper as Pie Number 1. The meringue seems off, it isn’t as airy as I’d hoped, nor is there enough of it — ideally, the meringue should be piled luxuriously sky-high. It really could have used that extra egg white that I skipped out on. Meringues rarely turn out the same as the last one…at least in my experience.
Also, this photo doesn’t show it but later on, the meringue underwent a serious case of “weepage,” in which the topping began to seep little dots of sugary syrup. It’s really very ugly but my friends who sampled the pie didn’t really seem to think so, or at least I hope not! I’ve researched cookbooks on how to avoid a weeping meringue but everyone seemed as baffled about it as I am. It may have something to do with how much cream of tartar you use while beating the egg whites. Or something or other.
Wow! I sure do have a lot to say about this subject! But I ain’t gonna lie, baking a lemon meringue pie out of scratch isn’t easy. I’m not going to even sugar-coat it for you — it’s arduous. Not only do you have to roll out a nice sturdy crust to avoid filling-leakage, you have to then whisk together the hot filling and soon after, beat egg whites for the meringue — all in a wild, multitasking frenzy. The whole affair is quite stressful, I assure you. This is why there are so few photos of the process. The rolled-out dough and the finished product. I was not going to stop my work flow and take photos of the 10-plus steps in-between.
In fact, the more I think about it, using whipped cream as a substitute for the meringue sounds like a fantastic idea. I’m not a huge fan of meringue anyway!
Despite it all, I do take joy out of laboring over a pie. I get an immense feeling of accomplishment upon taking the pie out of the oven…observing its level of success…SLICING it with a knife…taking a deep breath during this moment of truth…inspecting the insides…and finally, tasting (and approving) the pie. I’d say it’s worth it.