Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lemon meringue pie

Long ago I made a lemon meringue pie to share with friends, and it was a bit of a disaster. I think I burned the pastry, but the filling and the meringue were both okay.

I was determined to try again. I distinctly remember saying "I'm going to keep making lemon meringue pie every week until I get it right."

So the following week when I tried again the filling was so runny that as we drove to our friends' house it was flowing out of the pie from underneath the meringue.

I was grumpy about how I'd screwed it up, but at least I hadn't made the same mistake twice. To my friends' credit, they still ate the pie.

For the third week in a row, I baked the same lemon meringue pie. This time I burnt the pastry and the meringue.

They still ate the pie, and I gave up.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I needed to bake a lemon meringue pie for a dinner party, and because of my history with this pie I made sure I gave myself plenty of time so I wouldn't be rushing and make a silly mistake.
I made the pastry from scratch. It was kind of lumpy but it seemed okay. I baked it and it shrank and looked kind of ugly. Not at all like the picture in the cookbook.

I made the filling. It was thick and gooey and yellow. It looked exactly like the picture in the cookbook.
I made the meringue. It was glossy and beautiful, but was way too soft and wouldn't make nice peaks. It looked kind of like the picture in the cookbook.

It went in the oven and when it came out it was kind of disappointing, but it wasn't bad.
It wasn't bad, until I put it in the car and drove ten minutes to where I needed to go.

When I got there I realised that the pie had leaked sticky fluid around the inside of the container it was in, and down the side of the wicker basket it was sitting on inside the car.

I said rude words to it and jammed it in the fridge, and when the time came to serve it the pastry was soft and didn't hold its shape, and the meringue collapsed around the sides. It tasted fine, but I was not happy.

I was even less happy when at the end of the night I went out to the car and found a sticky lemony mess all over the passenger seat behind and under where the wicker basket had been.

So what have I learned? I think I need a new recipe, and if I ever put a lemon meringue pie in the car again, it's going to be in something that absolutely won't leak.

Bloody lemon meringue pie.

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