Monday, January 28, 2008
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.