Help! My lemon meringue pie has major problems!

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by annaheather, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. annaheather


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    Home Cook
    Beading, weeping, running filling you name it! I can't seem to make this pie work at work! At home no problems... I attribute that to my oven's broiling capacity and the smaller amount of egg whites I use in my meringue.

    The recipe we have been using is a variation from from Sunset Magazine,
    • 1 3/4  cups  sugar
    • 1 3/4 cups water
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
    • 1  tablespoon  grated lemon peel
    • 1/2  cup  lemon juice
    • 4  large eggs, separated
    • 2 T of sour cream
    • Baked 9-inch pie crust
    • 5 egg whites
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoon cornstarch.
    • 1/4  teaspoon  cream of tartar
    For the most part the filling turns out perfectly,  although once we made a triple batch and the filling didn't seem to thicken well.  Maybe too much acidity at once for the cornstarch?

    But the meringue usually weeps a bit, I'm not sure if it's the baking time, usually 350 for 8-9 short? 

    Also the meringue recipe calls for the 2 tps of cornstarch to be added to the sugar, and then mixed into the meringue.  Usually recipes call for the cornstarch to be added to water and then heated, then added to the meringue almost at the end.  

    Do you think this is where we are going wrong?  I don't have the equipment to heat the lemon curd and cornstarch mixture at roughly the same time, so that they will be done in time for the meringue to immedialty go onto the pie.   Do you think it would be ok to microwave it?

    Any help is greatly appreciated!! As the lead baker for a new bakery I am in desperate need of help!
  2. foodnfoto


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    Ok-first take a deep breath, now exhale.

    For food stylists, like me, lemon meringue pie and ice cream are the most difficult things to master and I have a few suggestions.

    If you can get your hands on a copy of Shirley Corriher's CookWise or BakeWise, you will find a detailed explanation of the best way of making this pie with all the scientific reasons why it will or won't work. 

    For the filling-

    You MUST bring the mixture to a boil for 1 minute. The reason is that you have to kill the enzyme in the egg that slowly destroys the bands of starch created by cooking the cornstarch and flour. Boiling does this and it's tricky to boil a larger quantity of the recipe without scorching the bottom.

    For the meringue-

    You will have better success if you cook the cornstarch in a little water, then add it to your almost finished meringue and also, you MUST put your meringue on the pie as soon as it comes out of the oven. That way, the hot custard underneath starts to bake your meringue from the inside. If the filling cools first, you have meringue that is basically raw in the middle and thus, weeping problems.

    Another trick Shirley suggests is to sprinkle a thin layer of fine, dry breadcrumbs on top of the filling just before you add the meringue. They melt into the filling and meringue and help the two layers adhere to each other-very helpful when slicing the pie.