After a few weeks’ vacation, it feels so good to finally reopen the doors of 196 flavors with a post about friendship.
Last week, many of you, friends of our Facebook page, have guided us by suggesting ideas of recipes we would prepare this week.
When I opted for the lemon meringue pie, I immediately turned to one of my dearest childhood friends who happens to be a pastry expert!
Her passport says her name is Jocelyne but I do not remember ever calling her this name. Everyone calls her Joce. However, I gave her the nickname of Bree Van de Kamp in reference to the perfect housewife from the show Desperate Housewives.
A childhood friend is someone who shapes a personal history. And I can assure you that Joce was one of my main cooking influences. Our 4 hands have done so many things together in the kitchen for the past 47 years… and I hope that we will continue for years to come.
I’ll admit that being in the kitchen with Joce is already something, but daring to bake with her is something else. Her skills, precision and dexterity are mesmerizing and all of this with laughter and fun! Joce and I have never been able to cook together without legendary mad laughs!
Okay, this lemon meringue pie is our common work… Well … I grated and squeezed the lemons and I tirelessly stirred the curd. And that’s pretty much it! For the rest, I have to admit I simply attended a very technical baking class!
Lemon, which would be the result of natural hybridization between citron, lime and grapefruit, is originally from Malaysia, China and India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. It has been used since the early Middle Ages on Arab ships then in Europe in the late twelfth century. It crossed the Atlantic in 1493 on Christopher Columbus’ ship.
In France, it is grown in the region of Menton, for which lemon is the symbolic fruit.
The lemon tree was first introduced to Assyria, and then Greece and Rome, where it was used as a condiment or for its medicinal properties. Later it was used as a beauty product or as an essential remedy against scurvy along with onion.
But back to our lemon meringue pie.
The first lemon curd was invented by the Quakers in the late 1700s. This dessert has become a classic dessert, first among American families in Southern states and California before being imported to Europe via Switzerland. The first lemon meringue pie recipe is attributed to chef Alexandre Frehse from Romandie. It is Italian chef Gasparini, from the town of Meiringen, a small city in the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who made meringue famous as he invented it in 1720.
The recipe for the pie as we know it today was codified by a Philadelphia pastry chef, Elizabeth Goodwell, in 1806.
I could not have mentioned lemon without telling you about its extraordinary benefits. In addition to being very rich in vitamin C, lemon is used for water retention, digestion, anti-aging properties, hangover, sore throats, diabetes and more.
Our lemon meringue pie was to die for! Thank you, Joce!
- 2 cups flour
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (soft)
- ¾ cup icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup almond flour
- 1 egg
- A few drops of vanilla extract
- Juice of 4 organic lemons + zest of two lemons
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 packets vanilla sugar (or 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 3 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 3 egg whites
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- Sift the flour directly above the work surface and sprinkle the almond flour.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and work with into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture is sandy without any pieces of butter.
- Make a well, add the egg and pour the sugar and vanilla.
- Mix all the ingredients with your fingertips, without kneading too much.
- Work the dough lightly to make it homogeneous and form a ball.
- Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator half an hour before working it.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Roll out the dough onto a 10-inch (25cm) diameter pie pan and poke slightly with a fork.
- Place parchment paper and cover with dry beans.
- Bake 10 minutes with dry beans on top and 5 minutes without. Set aside.
- In a large pot, put the lemon zest, the juice of 4 lemons and sugar. Heat the mixture.
- Beat all the eggs with the vanilla sugar until the mixture is pale and firm.
- Without stopping the processor, gradually add the hot lemon into the eggs.
- Put this mixture into the saucepan over low heat and whisk constantly while pouring the cornstarch.
- When the mixture thickens, remove from heat and let cool slightly for a few minutes before adding the butter, then whisk.
- Beat the egg whites with the salt at medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Pour half of the sugar and beat for 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining sugar and beat for 3 more minutes.
- Turn to maximum speed and beat for another 4 minutes.
- Pie crust must have completely cooled.
- Spread the lemon curd.
- Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Using a pastry bag, decorate with the meringue.
- Toast lightly with a handheld blowtorch.