Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's National Pie Day! My First Lemon Meringue Pie

Happy Pie Day!!! Okay, I admit it, this is my third National Pie Day here at Months of Edible Celebrations. On my very first National Pie Day, I shared one of my favorite die-cut recipe booklets titled Fairy Pie. Although it is a charming little booklet, in the shape of a mince pie, there aren't any recipes in it. Instead, it is composed like a Mother Goose Tale. The children in the story share their desire for "a goody in the whole wide world in a single bite."

Fairy Pie

With visions of childhood come those luscious mince pies
so tender, so juicy, so sweet!
When brought from the oven what aroma would rise
Our tantalized nostrils to greet!

In 2009 I discovered January 23rd is not only National Pie Day, it is also National Rhubarb Pie Day!!! I also learned at the American Pie Council, that "English tradition credits the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I."

Since Michigan celebrates Statehood in the month of January (26th) and because they have IMHO the best cherries EVER, I am including a recipe for Traverse City Cherry Berry Pie from the cookbook the Best of the Best from Michigan Selected Recipes from Michigan's Favorite Cookbooks. (1996, Quail Ridge Press) From the Preface:

Michigan, the Great Lakes State, is a cornucopia of wonderful things...Traverse City, the Cherry Capital of the World, offers everything from cherry pie to cherry hamburgers...

National Pie Day is sponsored by the American Pie Council. It is "dedicated to the celebration of pie."  The American Pie Celebration began in 1986 to commemorate Crisco's 75th anniversary of "serving foods to families everywhere." According to a Favorite Brand Name Recipes soft cover booklet I have titled American Pie Celebration, copyright 1991, "Crisco pie baking contests are held at major state or country fairs in each of the fifty states." then, the winner of each contest represents his or her state at a national competition for the title of "Baker of the American Pie."

My First Lemon Meringue Pie

As many of you know, I'm not a baker. That said, I started my preparation for this post a few days ago. I wanted to serve up a savory pie for National Pie Day. Actually, I had a savory pie in mind called, Impossibly Easy Breakfast Pie. As it turns out, it didn't!!! Oh, it "turned" out okay however, it just didn't knock me off my socks!!! However, I can't really blame it on the recipe. I swapped out a few ingredients and added a few of my own. Truth be told, I was never one for those impossible pies touted by Bisquick decades ago. (did I just write decades eeeeeee.....)

In an attempt to challenge my baking skills, and put to work the food processor my son and Kyla let me borrow, I chose a recipe out of American Pie Celebration, to bake for you today. It was a difficult choice. I finally decided on Classic Lemon Meringue Pie for a few reasons. First, I've never baked Lemon Meringue Pie before. Second because, I crave a bit of sunshine. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled it hasn't snowed in a while but boy oh boy, I've about had it with gloomy days. Lemons remind me of sunshine. I bet they do the same for you too!!! I'll begin with the crust.

Single Crust Food Processor Method
1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco® Shortening
3 tablespoons cold water
1. Place Crisco, water, and flour in processor blow. sprinkle salt over flour.
2. Process 3 to 5 seconds until dough just forms. Shape into ball. Note: For flakier crust, freeze Crisco in tablespoons-size chunks before processing. I did
3. Press dough between hands to form 5-to-6-inch "pancake." Flour rolling surface and rolling pin lightly. Roll dough into circle. Ed Note: (I don't have a rolling pin anymore. I sent it off to Michele a few years ago thinking I would never need it:) The only thing I could find that resembled a rolling pin was part of a napkin holder my neighbor in Bellefonte made for me quite a few years ago.
4. Turn your pie plate upside-down and trim dough 1-inch larger around the pie plate. Loosen dough carefully.
5. Fold dough into quarters. Unfold and press into pie plate. Fold edge under and flute. (there was no fluting in my kitchen. I had a bit of a problem with this step.)
6. For recipes using a baked pie crust, heat oven to 425 degrees. Prick bottom and sides thoroughly with fork 50 times to prevent shrinkage. Bake at 425 for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

The recipe for the Lemon Meringue Pie was submitted to the Crisco booklet by Jennifer Bernbaum, of  Inglewood California. I hope I did it justice:)

Classic Lemon Meringue Pie
9-inch Classic Crisco Single Crust
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tbs. plus 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1-1/2 cups water
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tbs. butter or margarine
2 tbs. grated lemon peel
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1. For crust: prepare and bake as above. Cool. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. For filling: combine 1-1/2 cups sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Stir in water gradually. Cook and stir on medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. (difficult for me on an electric stove) Add about one-third of hot mixture to egg yolks. (I really thought I was going to wind up with scrambled eggs at this point) Mix well. Return to saucepan. Cook and stir about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, butter and lemon peel. Spoon into cooled baked crust.
3. For meringue: beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed of electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla. Spread over filling covering completely and sealing to edge of pie. (surprisingly, I didn't have a problem with this step. It was fun watching the meringue peak. I was so tempted to dip my finger. It looked like whipped cream:)
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Cool to room temperature before serving.
Chances are, I won't be baking Classic Lemon Meringue Pie again, anytime soon. Oh, don't get me wrong, it tasted delicious!!! The crust didn't sog up. I dislike soggy crust immensely!!! The filling tasted just as I had hoped. I would suggest chilling the pie before serving. Room temperature didn't seem to highlight the pucker I was seeking from the lemon. Chilling the filling gave the flavors a chance to settle; pudding like:) I will be seeking additional meringue type pies. I had a ball making the meringue. It tasted like a toasted cloud midst the lemony pudding. If you look very closely at the teapot, you will notice the cherub lady has a knitting ball in front of her. I included her just for YOU, Channon:) That funny looking object on the top of the pie slice is suppose to be a lemon butterfly. Let's not get crazy here. My garnishing skills need honing and my photography skills, nil!!!
Did you make a pie for National Pie Day??? I'd love to hear about it!!! Have a wonderful day. I'll be visiting later. Now, what can I conger up for dinner???