Pies 3: Pumpkin and Lemon Meringue

2007-09-28

Pumpkin PieWednesday's class started off with us rolling out pie dough for both pies. We pricked and blind baked the one for lemon meringue, and I added some leaf cutouts to the pumpkin pie crust. To make the pumpkin pie filling, we whipped eggs and brown sugar for 15 minutes (!) until it became very light and fluffy. To that we added pumpkin pulp and spices, then scalded milk and melted butter. These went into the oven to bake. The recipe in our notes was for teams of 4, meaning we had to halve everything. This tripped up at least one team who scaled out the ingredients as written. WHY CAN'T THEY FIX THE NOTES!?

To make the lemon meringue pie filling, we boiled water, sugar and salt, to which we added a mix of cornstarch, lemon juice, zest and water. While vigorously stirring, we watched as the mixture slowly thickened and which point we took it off the heat. We added a bit of butter at this point to cool the mixture and for flavour. This is the first time I've made a lemon pie that used whole eggs in the filling; it's much more common to make the lemon curd with yolks only. Also, we cooked the mixture over direct heat, not a double boiler.

Lemon Meringue PieTo top this pie, we made a meringue from a powder. Chef briefly described the three kinds of meringues (French, Swiss, Italian) and said to prevent weeping, we would make it from a powder rather than the more laborious Swiss way. A little bit of powder (35 g), whipped for almost 15 minutes, made a whole lot of meringue, enough to cover two pies. The extended whipping also made it extremely firm, so it was easy to pipe decorations. I used a St. Honoré tip (Ateco #880) which has a sharp V-shaped notch in the side. With the notch facing up, Chef showed me how to pipe a pattern on the top. The design was inspired by a pie illustrating an article about a New York patisserie in an issue of Saveur from earlier this year.

Both pies turned out to be disappointments. The pumpkin pie filling was much too loose and moist. (My partner also overscaled the spices, so it was very, very strong. But everyone at work finished it all anyway!) The lemon meringue pie tasted strongly of artificial lime flavouring. Again, I'm not impressed with any of the recipes we use at George Brown, as I have a good collection of books at home and access to sites with reviewed recipes, e.g. Epicurious.

Update! So many people commented about the strong taste of their pumpkin pies, that Chef took a look at the recipe again. Turns out that 15 g each of cloves and nutmeg might have been too much (2 g would have been more like it of these strong spices).