Tag Archives: lemon meringue pie

A Mini surprise for a Big birthday

At the beginning of October, I started my second new job since July after being made redundant just before the end of the summer term. This new position is a really exciting opportunity for me as I become Finance and Administration Manager for a local project and even though I never imagined myself being able to say this, I am now grateful for that redundancy as there is no way that I would have even considered applying for this post if I had still been working comfortably close to home. The biggest change has been the huge increase in my hours and I am fortunate that once again I have found an employer who has been understanding about our home situation with M and my current need to be able to work from home on a regular basis. Bearing all that in mind, you’ll understand why baking has dropped down to being a fairly low priority on my list and the presence of xxcakes or biscuits in our house has been practically non-existent. However, with Mike’s 40th birthday looming mid-month, I needed to find some time to attempt, yet again, a version of his all-time favourite dessert – Lemon Meringue Pie – that would not only keep him happy, but also allow G and M to enjoy it too.

Looking back at my blog posts from over the last few years, this isn’t the first time that I’ve tried to recreate this classic dessert, but every time something hasn’t quite gone according to plan, usually the egg-free, rice-based meringue for the topping. The discovery of both rice protein powder and rice vinegar on the on-line supermarket site, FreeFrom Market, suddenly made the prospect something more than a pipe-dream and the Friday before Mike’s birthday saw me desperately trying to whip up a batch of mini meringues, safe for all members of the family. I’ll be honest, the recipe still isn’t quite there and it’ll need some more tweaking to get my perfect meringue, but they tasted good albeit that they were a little stickier than I perhaps had in mind.

I had decided that trying to create one large pie really wasn’t going to be feasible when it came to either my few-ingredients short crust pastry or the meringue itself and so settled on baking mini pies that would be just enough for a rewarding mouthful. I converted a simple short crust pastry recipe to suit M’s allergy needs and, with a few adjustments along the way, managed to produce some fantastic pastry cases which, much to my surprise, baked beautifully and maintained their shape as they cooled. I had already decided to replace the lemon filling with generous spoonfuls of my M-friendly lemon curd and popped the filled tarts into the fridge to allow the curd to set before adding the final touches. As soon as the mini pies were chilled, set and ready to eat, I dropped img_12221a single mini meringue on to the top of each one before serving to my eager husband and child. I will add at this point that neither G or I partook in this particular delicacy – the sharpness of the lemon didn’t appeal to G and the sweetness of the meringue doesn’t agree with me and my T1D tastes. However, despite the fact that only 50% of the family chose to eat these birthday treats, they were extremely well-received and I am reliably informed by both the men in my life that the lemon zest in the pastry when combined with the sharp lemon and sweet meringue was a taste sensation they very much enjoyed.

A Birthday Treat – Lemon Meringue cupcakes

This time last year, M was admitted into GOSH for scopes and he and I spent Mike’s birthday away from the birthday boy himself, leaving him to celebrate at home with the rest of the family.  There was a point this year when I thought history was about to repeat itself as we’re once again waiting for an admission date for M, who needs further testing to try to sort out the games his body is currently playing.  However, Mike’s birthday came, and went, with no sign of a phone-call from GOSH and I finally had a chance to make a long-awaited attempt at the Lemon Meringue cake I’d been dreaming of making last year. lemonmeringue

Lemon Meringue pie is Mike’s favourite dessert and there was a time, many eons ago, when I’d actually make him one from scratch for his birthday treat.  With the arrival of G and M, the general busyness of work and juggling the school-run alongside business meetings and the general day-to-day running of the household, I don’t think I’ve turned my hand to such a dish for at least a decade.  Add into the mix, the newer challenges of egg-free meringues and MEWS-free pastry and it’s not been the easiest pudding to make.  I attempted a cheesecake version for Fathers’ Day this year, but that didn’t quite go as planned, so I put my thinking cap on to see if I could figure out an alternative format for this popular dessert.

I settled on lemon drizzle cupcakes topped with vanilla butter-cream icing and small meringues.  I’ve made Lemon drizzle cake before, but found that the rice flour made the sponge taste very granular and I was keen to see if I could improve the texture.  I found a lovely recipe for vegan lemon drizzle cake and read around the options for replacing the flour to make the cake both gluten- and potato-flour-free. 20141015_194117 My final recipe included gram flour – an ingredient that’s been lurking in my cupboard for a while, but which I had yet to brave using – rice flour and tapioca flour and the end result was infinitely better than the last time, though some further tweaking to create the perfect lemon drizzle cupcake is needed.

I whipped up a small batch of my vanilla butter-cream icing and used it to secure the mini egg-free meringues to the top of each cupcake.  I was delighted with how these cakes looked and M spent most of the day, and evening, before Mike got home from work, begging to try one to “just check it’s okay for Daddy!”  I am assured by the family that the cupcakes were a huge success and so that’s another recipe added to my ever-increasing repertoire.

 

Lemon Meringue Pie with a twist

fathers dayCelebrating Fathers’ Day last weekend meant attempting to create Mike’s all-time favourite dessert, Lemon Meringue Pie.  I’ve found it difficult to make a good M-friendly pastry in the past and I wasn’t sure I wanted to struggle with it again, so instead I took inspiration from Mike’s other favourite pudding, cheesecake and decided to create my “pie” with a biscuit base.  I whipped up a double batch of my digestive biscuits recipe, pressed it into a greased springform cake tin and popped it into the oven for about 25 minutes.

Once this was in the oven, I scoured the internet looking for an allergy-friendly lemon meringue recipe that I could adapt, if necessary, to suit us all.  I found this great vegan recipe, which needed only the smallest of tweaks and set to making the lemon filling to put on top of the biscuit base.  I was lucky to have nearly all of the ingredients in my cupboard, though I had to use gelatin instead of agar to set the filling and here I nearly failed.  I had no idea of how much gelatin to add, so I added an amount that seemed reasonable for what I was making and kept my fingers crossed that it would all work out.  The good news is that 2 (and a bit) sachets of powdered gelatin set the filling enough to create the layer I was looking for, but trust me, it was certainly more luck than judgement.  Next time I will try more as I think it really needs to be a firmer layer.

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This is what I was aiming for…

Base baked, filling added and sitting in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours, I came to the final, and possibly the hardest, part of my Lemon meringue challenge – the meringue topping itself.   I have successfully made small egg-free meringues before, but I wasn’t convinced that that recipe would work as the topping for a pie.  Instead, I decided to attempt the meringue mix suggested on the vegan recipe I was following as it seemed easy enough and I had enough egg replacement powder in the cupboard to give it a whirl.  It all started well, but I then added the rest of the water needed and things started to go horribly wrong. What I really should have done was stop there and start again, but I foolishly thought I’d attempt to rescue the gloop I was holding and added more sugar and egg replacement until I reached the consistency I thought I was after.  You can find my adapted recipe here.

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…this is what I got!

I doubtfully poured the meringue mix on top of the chilled base and put it in the oven, with everything crossed for a good result.  The recommended baking time was nowhere near long enough and I ended up leaving it in for a whole hour.  The end result?  Well, Mike and the kids kindly said it was delicious and for a first attempt, I would agree that it wasn’t too bad. However, it was not up to my exacting standards and I will definitely be trying this one out again with a few more tweaks along the way as I attempt to bake the perfect M-friendly lemon meringue pie.