The Sour Lemon

Lemon Meringue Pie Day

Aug 15

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Sir Walter Scott's Birthday
Kinmont Willie
Lemon Meringue Pie Day
The Sour Lemon
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Today's Musings, History & Folklore

“When life hands you lemons, get yourself some limes because life can't be trusted.” ~ Safaya Carbon

Lemon flavored custards, puddings and pies have been enjoyed since Medieval times. Meringue was perfected in the 17th century, and lemon meringue pie, as it is known today, is a 19th-century product, first recorded by Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandie.

The Sour Lemon

Lemon flavored custards, puddings and pies have been enjoyed since Medieval times.  Meringue was perfected in the 17th century, and lemon meringue pie, as it is known today, is a 19th-century product, first recorded by Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandie.
 

And for a simple recipe with few ingredients, there are many ways to fail with lemon meringue pie.   Have you ever experienced any of the following problems?

  • meringue won't form

  • meringue collapses

  • meringue is gritty

  • meringue turns to hard foam

  • meringue is runny

  • meringue separates from pie (shrinks)

  • meringue separates from pie and slides off

  • meringue weeps

  • crust is soggy

  • filling doesn't set

  • filling not dry enough to attach to meringue

  • filling weeps

Meringue techniques are very controversial, and the directions for every other lemon meringue pie recipe seem to contradict all the others.

The most hotly debated lemon meringue pie controversy is the hot filling/cold filling debate!

Thanks to experimental science, you too can have a perfect pie every time.   See the recipe below for fool-proof directions (contradicted by hundreds of other recipes) to explain the how and why.   Your mileage may vary.  

First, some meringue background: 

As egg whites are beaten, they stretch and trap air bubbles. The size and strength of the bubbles determine the durability of the meringue. Small, even bubbles are more lasting than big, uneven ones.

An acid, such as cream of tartar, makes egg-white bubbles stronger. Add it before beating the whites into a coarse foam. To further strengthen the protein in the whites and force the bubbles to break into firmer, tiny ones, gradually beat in the sugar.

 

When the foamy mass is glossy and holds distinct peaks, the bubbles are still flexible enough to swell when heating air expands in them as the meringue bakes. If sugar is added before a coarse foam is established, the whites get too stretchy to make a stiff foam. If you add the sugar too fast, the granules won't dissolve and the bubbles will be uneven. If you over beat the whites, the meringue loses its gloss and the bubbles are stretched to their maximum; when heated, they pop and drain liquid. In under beaten egg whites, the insufficiently developed bubbles break and drain.

Other general helpful hints:

  • Completely separate eggs (no traces of yolk)

  • Use superfine sugar (to more fully and quickly dissolve)

  • Use a glass or copper bowl to beat meringues (perfectly clean, no trace of any fat or oil)

  • Stop beating the meringue when when glossy and stiff peaks

  • Don't use too much lemon juice (competes with the starch in the custard).

  • Don't overcook custard (too hot and the starch molecules release their moisture - runny filling)

  • Don't over stir the custard during cooking

  • Don't stir after removing from heat

  • Don't use cornstarch that has clumps

For the recipe, click here.

If the whole thing is just too much, try a deconstructed lemon meringue pie which keeps the meringue and custard far enough apart to prevent any trouble.  Click below for the recipe!

The Sour Lemon
The Sour Lemon

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Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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