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Sunny Skies, Lemon Pies and…..Fruit Flies?

Posted By Susan On January 28, 2008 @ 12:43 am In Baking,Daring Bakers,Desserts,Pies and Tarts,Recipes | 41 Comments

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Last month, I survived my first Daring Bakers challenge. Yes, I finished my Yule Log [1]on time and lived to tell about it. To refresh your memory, I had some major plumbing issues and wasn’t able to use the water in my kitchen for the two weeks before Christmas. It was a huge mess, and I almost had to miss the challenge because of it. With twenty-four hours to go before post time, I worked like a madwoman on crack to create that Yule Log from start to finish, decorate it, photograph it and post about it. Holy Mother of God! I’m breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it!

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This month’s Daring Baker challenge is being hosted by Jen from The Canadian Baker [2]. She chose Lemon Meringue Pie as the subject of the challenge and provided a recipe from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky [3], by Wanda Beaver. I was psyched! I really enjoy LMP and it is one of Mr. SGCC’s favorite desserts.

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Since this recipe didn’t look to be overly complicated, I felt comfortable waiting a few weeks before I took a shot at it. I needed to let the dust settle (literally) from the Holidays and the unfortunate events leading up to them. Even though I had never made a lemon meringue pie before, I was familiar with the individual components of the recipe which are a shortbread crust, lemon curd and meringue. After all the drama of the last challenge, I was sure that this one would be a breeze.
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About two weeks ago, I woke up to a glorious sunny day. It was cool and bright and dry – perfect for baking and photographing a lemon meringue pie. As I was making my morning coffee, a little black speck whizzed by me. I was still half asleep. I must have imagined…..Wait, there it is again! This time, the speck landed on my cup. It was…..a bug! Ugh! I got another cup and started……Hey! What the……! Another little whizzer just dive-bombed in my coffee! And another one just tried to fly up my nose! Gross!!! I took a look around the kitchen and there were lots more little black flying specks. They were all over the place. And they were fast little buggers too! Most of them seemed to be congregated around the food. Oh shit! Fruit Flies!!! [4]

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Ugly little sucker, isn’t he?
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Now, I have to confess that right about then, I was beginning to understand what Job [5] must have felt like.

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After I called the exterminator, and ran around my kitchen swinging a rolled-up newspaper a hundred and fifty times, I started zesting my lemons. So far, so good. Then, I juiced the lemons. Okay…..no, wait…..oh no! Fruit flies in the lemon juice. All right. I. Will. Remain. Calm. I’ll just grab a few more lemons and…..uh oh……is that a fruit fly stuck in the butter? Yup. Oh, who was I kidding? That lemon meringue pie was not going to happen. Not that day, anyway.

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I put everything away and did the only thing I could do under the circumstances. I went shoe shopping.

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Later that day, the exterminator explained to me that there really wasn’t anything he could do about the fruit flies. (Hmmph!) He said that they probably hitched a ride home with me from the market on the bananas or apples I had recently bought. The offending apples or bananas probably were covered with microscopic fruit fly eggs that had hatched in my kitchen. Lovely! He suggested that I set off a few bug bombs in the house. Of course, I would also have to set off a few more five or six days later after the rest of the eggs had hatched. Wonderful…..and unacceptable. There was no way I was going to fill my house up with clouds of poisonous gas, not once, but twice! There had to be another solution. Believe it or not, the answer was sitting in my Inbox.

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My mother-in-law is always sending me emails with all kinds of fascinating flotsam and jetsam [6]from around the web. Thanks to her, I’ve learned that Coke can strip the paint off my car, that there are toxic levels of lead in my favorite red lipstick, and that leaving a glass of apple cider vinegar mixed with a little dishwashing liquid on your kitchen counter will get rid of fruit flies.

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I don’t know about the first two, but the third one is true. Within an hour of setting out that vinegar concoction, I found at least a dozen drowned fruit flies in the glass. Woo hoo! Success! I figured that if one glass was working so well, three or four would be even better. It took several days, but I am happy to report that my house is now “fruit fly free”!

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With new resolve, I set about conquering that thing which is Lemon Meringue Pie!

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I have to honestly say that everything went pretty smoothly for me while making this pie. My crust came together very nicely. In fact, I thought it was one of the easiest crusts I’ve ever worked with. The lemon filling was thick and smooth. It looked like liquid sunshine. My egg whites whipped up into gorgeous, billowy white clouds of meringue. I couldn’t wait to put it all together and bake it.

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I had read about the trials and tribulations that other DBers had while making this pie. Some had runny lemon curd that refused to set, while others had shrinking or weeping meringue. I was a little nervous, especially about the meringue. I thought for sure that I would have trouble with it. That glorious, sunny day that I spoke about earlier was long gone, replaced with several damp, cloudy and humid ones. Someone up there must have taken pity on me because of the fruit flies, because my meringue was pretty close to perfect. It was beautifully browned, with little swirls and peaks. There was no shrinkage or weeping. I would have liked it to have been a little bit higher, but hey, I wasn’t going to complain about that. I could hardly wait to take it outside for pictures!

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Later that evening came the moment of truth. Pretty is as pretty does, but did the pie taste good? I thought it was delicious. The filling had just the right balance of tartness and sweetness, with a true lemon flavor. The meringue was light and fluffy inside, with a tiny bit of chewiness on the outside. Mr. SGCC gave it two thumbs up. Believe me, that isn’t faint praise! I would definitely make this one again.

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Lemon Meringue Pie
from “Wanda’s Pie in the Sky” by Wanda Beaver
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

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For the Crust:

3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water


For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract


For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

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To Make the Crust:


Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

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Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

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To Make the Filling:

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Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

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To Make the Meringue:

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Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

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Enjoy!

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URL to article: http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com/2008/01/28/sunny-skies-lemon-pies-and-fruit-flies/

URLs in this post:

[1] Yule Log : http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com/2007/12/yule-log-that-almost-wasnt.html

[2] The Canadian Baker: http://canadianbaker.blogspot.com/

[3] Wanda’s Pie in the Sky: http://www.wandaspieinthesky.com/

[4] Fruit Flies!!! : http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef621.asp

[5] Job: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_(Bible)

[6] flotsam and jetsam : http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/flotsam-and-jetsam.html

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