Monday, January 28, 2008

Bittersweet Pie


When I was dating my husband-to-be, he told me about his grandparents who lived in sunny, southern California. They lived in a sprawling old farmhouse that had once been in the middle of an orchard. The orchard had been sold off and developed into business real estate, so the house sat, an island of history in the stream of commerce.

The house had a pecan tree, a lemon tree, an apricot tree, and gardenia bushes lined the drive. Whenever my husband's family made the trek to visit, his grandmother would give him a big hug and say, "I'm gonna make you a pie, honey. Go pick some lemons." The scent of gardenias and the taste of lemon meringue pie are links to his grandmother.

She passed away before we were married so I never got to meet this sweet woman. But in her honor I had gardenias in my wedding bouquet and one of the first pies I ever made for my husband was lemon meringue.

I've made several lemon meringue pies over the years, but it's been awhile since the last one. My husband's palate has changed and though he has sweet memories of his grandmother's pies, the reality is a bit too sweet for him now.


When the Daring Bakers announced that the challenge for January was a Lemon Meringue Pie, I was pleased to revisit this old favorite and to have something that wasn't too difficult. So I thought. But what I thought would be easy as pie.....wasn't.

The pie crust turned out quite nicely for me and I was looking forward to the pie coming together without a hitch. The custard was another story. It never set up. I let it cool then swathed it in a turban of meringue, then baked it to a perfect golden brown.

I knew I was in trouble when I took my lovely pie out of the oven and the center wobbled ominously. I took the picture, hoping for the best, but when I cut into it, I found I'd baked Lemon Meringue Soup. We each tried a piece, but I knew it was doomed when my 5 year old said it was "yucky."

I ended up throwing the rest of it away. To paraphrase Kryten in the BBC series, Red Dwarf: "Good bye 5 eggs, goodbye fresh lemons, goodbye perfect pie crust. Bon appetite, bin!"

I'm not including the recipe, but if you'd like a recipe for lemon meringue pie that doesn't fail, look in The Joy of Cooking. Check out how the rest of the Daring Bakers did with this challenge at the Daring Baker's Blogroll.

40 comments:

Jerry said...

Lynn how wonderful to remake the pie, but sorry it didn't turn out. Hopefully next month is better.

Big Boys Oven said...

Oh your pie still looks absolute gorgeous.....wow!

Dee Light said...

Sorry it didn't turn out, it looks good.

I use the Joy of Cooking version as well.

Melinda said...

How disappointing! It all looked so good on the first picture too.
I wish you'd thought to take a picture of your 5 yr. old doing a yucky face! I can only imagine.
B.L.N.T.

Deborah said...

It looks lovely, even if it didn't work out! I'll have to check out the Joy of Cooking version.

Gretchen Noelle said...

The pie certainly does look lovely still whole. Too bad it didn't come out as desired. The story was very nice to go along with this. Sure wishing I had Joy of Cooking as I am eager to try a different version!

Rachel said...

ah such a pity it didn't work out, looks divine all the same

Meryl said...

Darn! As others have said though, it certainly looks good....

culinography said...

It's still a very pretty pie! But I'm all too familiar with that "jiggle" under the meringue...

Oh well. On to the next challenge!

Ben said...

It was a pretty pie and at least you tried. I didn't even do that this month. But next month we are conquering a new challenge :D

aisha said...

Well, at least it looked beautiful, and brought back such great memories!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dang Lynn, how could that be! I'm sure with you on that easy as pie thing, that was sort of my feeling on this one until I got into it! The bad then good on that crust was a shocker for me. The other two parts were OK for me.
Still it looked like it would pass for a LMP.
Neat story about your hubby's grandmother.

Nicole said...

I think it's so thoughtful that the first pie you made for your husband was lemon meringue. Sorry this one didn't turn out as successful. But think - the last time you had problems with something in the kitchen, you ended up with those lovely mint chip cookies.

So when the world gives you lemons, I guess you'll be making lemon meringue pie instead of lemonade. :)

Aimée said...

Some of the best and worse pie eating experiences of my life have been lemon meringue. It is NOT a simple pie to make, but when it comes out right, it's most memorable! Better luck next time.

Brilynn said...

It's a shame about the pie.

It would be wonderful to have a pecan tree, a lemon tree and an apricot tree. I'm just imagining all the things your husbands grandmother would have made!

VeggieGirl said...

oh no!! so sorry that the pie didn't work out - this is a perfect opportunity for you to bake another batch of your redemption cookies :0)

the story of your husband's grandmother is lovely!

Claire said...

The pie looks great! Sorry it didn't turn out. It amazes me that the custard that was so thick for some people is soup for others.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

The pie looks so pretty. I'm sorry it didn't turn out right for you. I really enjoyed your post. A very sweet story.

Dolores said...

How very disappointing that this one didn't turn out well for you. I loved the story of the special place LMP holds in your family; the pie and your wedding bouquet are lovely ways to pay honor and tribute to a piece of your husband's past.

Peabody said...

A sweet tribute to have gardenias in your bouquet.
Sorry it was not a winner for you. :(

Princess of the kitchen said...

Your meringue looks great! Wekll done!

Marcia said...

Beautiful post - I'm crying as I write this! Sorry the pie didn't turn out as you expected.

LyB said...

So sorry about your pie, but that was a wonderful post. Loved your reference to Red Dwarf :)

Amy said...

That's a beautiful story and a beautiful pie. It's too bad it was runny. :(

June said...

I had no problem with the curd but my pie was a watery mess. I, too, threw all but one slice of it away. Better luck next time!

breadchick said...

Sorry the pie didn't turn out but the story was absolutely lovely!

Lunch Buckets said...

I don't know what I'd give to have someone say to me, "I'm gonna make you a pie, honey". Sigh.

Suzana said...

Despite it being slightly runny, your pie looks fabulous. Mine was running as well... Oh well, on to the next challenge. :)

bbaking said...

It looked lovely, I had the same wobbly runny filling as you! I still ate it and it tasted good but I was a little disappointed! Especially when some peoples turned out perfectly!

Fruit tart said...

What a sweet story about your husband's family, pie, and flowers! Sorry your pie wasn't as nice as it looks.

Kelly-Jane said...

Lynn, so glad to see you've joined the DBs! It's a real pity that you all didn't like it, but it still loos great!

kitten said...

sorry to hear your LMP didn't turn out how you would have liked, but i loved reading about your husband's grandma and his history with her. how beautiful... and i loved the way you swirled your meringue on top, it looks so classic.

Jen Yu said...

I'm sorry that the curd didn't set up for you :( But the pie looks really good in your pics!! Leave it to the kids to be brutally honest. Give yourself a pat on the back for trying.

Cheryl said...

Sorry you had problems with it. I think it looks fantastic. And the story of your husband's grandmother was so sweet.

creampuff said...

Sorry it didn't turn out so well ... nice try though!

Nora B. said...

Hi Lynn,
Such a lovely story.

I agree that this is not the best recipe out there for LMP since I've tried many different recipes through the years. But my family was happy enough to gobble up not just one, but two of these pies in two weeks. :-)

Nora

Molly Loves Paris said...

Your pie LOOKS lovely, and the story about the grandmother is wonderful. I'm going to check out the Joy of Cooking recipe. I got the book for Christmas.

Kristen said...

Everyone is doing so good with this challenge! I have yet to see one sad looking meringue.
Beautiful job!

Tartelette said...

Sorry to hear about the pie not turning out as you hoped for. I enjoyed reading about your husband's grandmother though.

eatme_delicious said...

Sorry to hear it didn't turn out so well, but it does look really good!