VCS Lemon Meringue Pie Tips

DSCN2435On April 28, Chefs Sarah Powers and Lauren Feldman came in from Flour Bakery + Café to be our Visiting Chefs. They were even kind enough to prepare something a trainee had requested: lemon meringue pie. Its roots go back to Medieval times. The form as we know it today most likely was a product of 19th century Switzerland. There are different ways to go about preparing it; these are tips used by Flour Bakery.

The Crust. Pies are best with a tender, flaky crust. There are several things you can do to help achieve that. First, make sure the butter is softened properly. It should be able to bend without breaking. Don’t overmix the dough; it will produce more gluten and result in a tougher texture. Once mixed, let it rest before rolling. This avoids the need for more flour and helps prevent shrinkage. The dough should be rolled from the center outwards, and not back and forth. Bake before adding the filling.

The Lemon. The lemon filling is a custard, which means it has a base of milk or cream and egg yolks. Before the yolks are added, the lemon mixture must be heated till it’s steaming, but not boiling. The egg must be added very gradually. Eggs cook at a relatively low temperature. If they are added to quickly, they will cook and scramble. Stir slowly and gently. Pour into crust, chill till firm, then bake until the filling is warm.

The Meringue. A Swiss meringue is the easiest and most hands-off route. It involves indirect heating: combine ingredients, then set mixing bowl into a hot water bath. The mixture should be warm to the touch. Once this happens and the sugar is dissolved, whip until high, glossy peaks form. The meringue should be used immediately.