Testing more new waters

My grandmother is the baker in the family. Every year she checks out the MacIntosh apples until she finds the bushels she wants, sets my grandfather to peeling, and makes big batches of apple pies to store in the freezer and distribute among her 4 children. And some of us grandchildren too.

Despite liking to cook, I've never liked baking pies if I had to make my own pie crust. I've just never liked making pie crust, and never liked rolling out the dough. Until last Friday, I didn't even own a proper rolling pin any more, having tossed the awful one I had years ago. It wasn't being used anyways.

Well Friday I found the rolling pin I wanted to work with at Hendrix, again my go to store for kitchen supplies. My rolling pin of choice was the French style rolling pin. It fit comfortably in my hands and did not involve any of the silliness I've found always comes with a ball bearing style pin. Though I have yet to figure out where I can store this thing.

To enter these uncharted waters known as pie making, I started out asking a question. "I'm going to make a pie. If you could have any kind of pie, what kind would you like?"

I asked this question of my husband, expecting something involving raspberries.

Instead I got an unexpected answer: "Lemon Meringue."

I'd never made a lemon meringue pie before. Aren't those easier to buy premade from the store?

I had offered though, and knew this was not beyond my abilities, even my non-pie making skills were probably sufficient to make this pie.

I started out with my trusty little stand mixer and the recipe for pie crust from the manual. I'm not going to rewrite the recipe here because you can get pie crust recipes anywhere, or skip it an buy the premade, frozen kind from the store (which is what I have always done when making pies). And I'm not sure I like the recipe from my mixer book so will try a different one next time.

A conversation with my neighbour, however, reminded me that not everyone who tries to make this pie knows you have to prebake the pie shell before you add the lemon filling in. I knew, my crust was in the oven while we were discussing his adventures in pie making. But if you've never made this kind of pie before, remember - Bake that pie shell first!

For the rest of the recipe, I went back to my Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book. The 35 year old new cookbook. One thing I like about making this kind of pie - the egg yolks get used in the filling, the whites for the meringue. No waste of egg parts! Throw my shells in the composter and everything has been used.

For my first pie of this type I was quite pleased with it. I'll need to practice my pie crust skills a bit before I can even match my grandmother, but it wasn't too bad for a first time. I think I understand now why she uses disposable alluminum pie plates every year, aside from the cost savings when you make 4 dozen pies - it is easier to crimp pie dough right at the edge than it is on a pie place with an extended lip and handles on it. So my pie shrunk a bit, despite the precautions taken to prevent it. It didn't shrink so much that it wasn't usable, though I did not have a pretty edge to my crust.

Feedback on this was good, very good. I had a nice high meringue, golden and gooey. The lemon filling was tart and not too sweet. Even my children ate it, though to be fair my youngest started at the top, and ate some of the lemon, before he announced that he didn't like pie. It's his new thing lately, to eat 1/2 to 3/4 and then say he doesn't like something.

Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablesppons all-purpose flour
dash salt
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolds
2 tablespons butter
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 9-inch baked pastry shell, cooled

In saucepan, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, constartch, flour and salt. Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over high heat until mixture comes to boiling. Reduce head; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Stir small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks, then return to hot mixture. Bring to boiling and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add butter and lemon peel. Slowly add lemon juice, mixing well. Pour into pastry shell. Spread meringue over filling; seal to edge. Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Meringue For one 9-inch pie

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff and glossy peaks form and all sugar is disolved. Spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to eadge of pastry. Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until meringue is golden. Cool.

Notes: I didn't let the pie shell cool before adding the filling. I increased the amount of lemon zest, simply to enhance the lemon flavor. And no one was willing to wait for the pie to cool before eating it, hence my filling weeps a little bit. Tasted just great though!

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