weepy meringues

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by thebighat, Sep 27, 2001.

  1. thebighat

    thebighat

    Messages:
    799
    Likes Received:
    11
    Had to make some lemon meringue strips today. Filling no problem. But the meringue, 16 whites and 2 cups sugar, put onto a cooled filling and then baked till lightly golden brown, allowed to cool before refrigerating it, weeped all over the place. What makes it do that? It was a nice firm glossy meringue. Maybe too much sugar that melted out as syrup?
     
  2. isa

    isa

    Messages:
    3,236
    Likes Received:
    11
    From Cookwise:

    Sugar is a vital part of the meringue’s structure. Sugar grabs water and remove moisture from the foam itself and causes it to set. Sugar initially dissolves in the moisture stolen from the foam and makes a syrup coating on the delicate protein network. Water evaporates from the syrup in the oven and, the network is left covered with fine, dry sugar. Meringues simply will not work without sugar.

    Choosing the right amount and kind of sugar is important. About 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar per egg white is as low as you can go, and this meringue is not as stable as that made with the usual ratio of 2 tablespoons per egg white. Adding a little cream of tartar or lemon juice or vinegar helps give meringue stability. For soft meringues on pies superfine sugar is preferred.

    Undercooking and overcooking are the most common problems with soft meringues on pies. Believe it or not, it is possible to undercooking and overcooking at the same time. Overcooking, not humidity or fast cooking, causes beading, the little sugary drops of moisture on a baked meringue topping. Weeping, the watery layer between the meringue and the filling, is caused by undercooking. If you pile meringue onto a cold filling and cook it in a oven that is too hot, the top of the meringue can overcook and bead while the bottom remains undercooked and weeps. The filling has to be hot for the meringue topping to cook through.

    When a meringue is undercooked, the uncoagulated (uncooked) egg white foams loses the moisture that is held, causing weeping as the meringue stands. With a meringue pie, you can avoid weeping by beating the topping before making the filling. Once you have added the sugar to the egg white foam, you can let it stand without fear of its drying out. After you have spooned the piping-hot filling into the pie shell, cover it with meringue.

    Roland Mesnier, the White House pastry chef, sprinkles some fine cake crumbs over the hot filling just before he spoons on the meringue. If there is any leakage, the crumbs absorb it. I tried this. When I peeked under the meringue on my slice of pie, I could not see a single crumb and there was a fine dry interface between the meringue and the pie.

    Overcooking, on the other hand, tightens the bonds between proteins and squeezes out water which forms drops or beads. It also makes the egg whites though. You might thinks that a low cooking temperature (325°F - 350°F / 163°C to 177°C) would be the solution, but the interior of the meringue gets hotter when it is cooked at low temperature for a longer time rather than at a high temperature for a shorter time. Actually, a high oven temperature (425 8F - 450°F / 163°F to 232°C) combined with a short cooking time of 4 to 5 minutes prevents beading because it does not get the interior too hot.

    With the present possibility of salmonella in eggs, you would be wise t verge on the overcooking meringues. The combination of lower temperature and longer time ( though not my favourite) is considered the best approach, or you can use Alice Medrich’s Safe Meringue.

    Humidity is also a factor to consider when making meringues. There is a lot of truth to the old adage “Never make meringues on a damp day.” Meringues have high sugar content - 2 tablespoons of sugar per egg white for soft meringues and 4 tablespoons of sugar per egg white for hard meringues. Since sugar absorbs moisture and become soft if exposed to a humid environment.

    I include some cornstarch in all my soft meringue. Starch performs the same magic on meringues as it does on custards. It prevents egg whites from overcoagulating just as it prevents whole eggs from curdling. Meringues with their high sugar content keeps all the water tied up, so it is necessary to dissolve the cornstarch in water and heat it before beating it into the meringue. This lets the starch absorb water and swell before it goes into the meringue where no water is available to it. Meringues with starch are tender, cut beautifully, and do not shrink as much or overcook as easily as meringues without it. They are picture perfect.

    [ September 27, 2001: Message edited by: Iza ]
     
  3. thebighat

    thebighat

    Messages:
    799
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks for the info. I think I piled the meringue onto a too-cold filling. They were strips, not pies, and only about an inch thick or less. they sliced ok and I think I probably got away with it.
     
  4. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Those were great tips!

    A few other things to think of: Because of salmonella, you might consider trying an Italian meringue, which incorporates hot sugar syrup into the whites. Or you can use meringue powder. I've never used meringue powder, but I know it's ultra-safe.

    Starch is a great idea. I generally add some powdered sugar in place of some of the granulated sugar. It helps to absorb any excess moisture.
     
  5. angrychef

    angrychef

    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    10
    Yep, I agree with Shirley. I always pile on the meringue onto a hot filling and make sure the meringue is baked enough. For large quantities of meringue I use meringue powder and it works great. Frozen eggwhites don't work so great for Swiss and Italian meringues, though I have not figured why. Another foolproof idea is place a thin layer of sponge cake between the filling and the meringue ---you'll never have a meringue slide off and if it does weep it will absorb some of the moisture.
     
  6. w.debord

    w.debord

    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    11
    I was working on my recipe file and making notes from this thread and I was hoping Isa would continue the notes from 'Cookwise'....?

    I'm interested in the end (above of the 'cookwise' notes) paragraph where she starts to say she adds cornstarch to her meringue. She combines it with water....but I'd love to know how much water to how much cornstarch and when she adds this, please?

    So Momoreg, your saying you use xxxsugar because it has cornstarch and gives you the binding cookwise is eluding to? What ratio of xxxsugar to eggs do you like? Doesn't this taste too sweet with the xxx? I'm curious....and doesn't this tie back to why we use xxx in royal frosting too? Make sense???


    I was also quite interested in what Alice Medrich's safe meringue consisted of? Is that refering to a cooked meringue like Italian etc...?

    When get the time, Isa I would really appreciate the info, THANKS!
     
  7. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Hi Wendy,
    I'm not sure what you're referring to when you draw the parallel with royal icing. Please clarify.

    When using 10x in a meringue, you can use half the maount of gran. sugar that you normally would use, the sub the other half (by weight) with 10x sugar. The sweetness is comparable.
     
  8. isa

    isa

    Messages:
    3,236
    Likes Received:
    11
    Not sure I follow Wendy. Do you want the last part of this section where she talks about hard meringue or the recipe for safe meringue?
     
  9. pastrychef_den

    pastrychef_den

    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Hello Everyone,

    A food styling trick is the answer to the beading question. The addition of cornstarch to the eggwhites will help stabilize the meringue, making it less likely to bead up or shrink from the edges during baking.

    The basic propotion is:

    1 T Cornstarch
    1/3 c. water
    4 Whites
    1/2 t. Fresh Lemon juice
    1/2 c. Sugar

    Make a smooth paste with water and cornstarch. Set aside.
    Make a french mringue with the remaining ingredients then incorporate the starch beating well. Use as needed.

    *Troubleshooting meringue:
    by Janice Cole

    WEEPING
    when water seeps between the filling and the meringue, the pie is weeping. This is caused by spreading the meringue over a cool filling, which prevents the meringue from baking completely.

    SOLUTION
    make sure the filling is hot, even boiling, before pouring it into the shell. Immediately spread the meringue over the filling. The hot filling will begin to cook the meringue from the bottom, ensuring even cooking throughout.

    BEADING
    This happens when water droplets form tiny beads on the surface of the meringue. When the eggwhites bake too long, they begin to tighten, squeezing out little drops of moisture. Over baking also produces a tough meringue.


    Hope this helps...Good luck...
     
  10. w.debord

    w.debord

    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks pastrychef-den, I was looking for a recipe using cornstarch and the info. for how it's incorporated into the meringue. (I always use the instant stuff for safety reasons) I haven't spent any effort really learning the "right" way and think it's important to have the knowledge of the right procedure, etc... if ever needed.

    I really have only a couple items I use meringue on....either pies or baked alaska. THB mention of bars, was really a new thought for me, I've never had bars with meringue ontop....closest would be mini lemon tarts (but again I use the instant stuff).


    Next question is, (Since we know that the right factors need to be hit for success) what's your oven temp. and time for a 9 or 10" pie using the cornstarch included meringue?

    P.S. God only knows what I was refering to with xxxsugar and royal icing, I must have gotten lost.:eek:
     
  11. pastrychef_den

    pastrychef_den

    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    W,

    Sorry, I forgot to include the temperature and baking time. It's baked at 350F for about 16-18 minutes.

    Italian Meringue works well too. If you're using this, you can torch the meringue instead and it freezes well. I've tried using this on Baked Alaska and left it in the freezer while "in Transit"

    Good Night ahead...
     
  12. cape chef

    cape chef

    Messages:
    4,508
    Likes Received:
    32
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I just finished reading an articale in Octobers food arts called "Merinque Mogels Cafe Empire"

    The story is about master pastry chef Jacques Pautrat.
    While living in New York in the mid 80s and working at the rainbow room he had a dream of one day starting a buisness of merinques for professinal chefs. Well he kept that dream for over ten years and moved to southern california to be with his freind Roland d' Abel and open there own cafe. They opened the first Champagne french bakery cafe in 1987. There are now three.
    D'Abel daughter was a designer at Prada so they asked her to come up with a feminine logo for the Merinque venture "Miss merinque" They started with 1.500 square feet,they now have a 90.000 square foot central kitchen in San Marcos shared by both Miss merinque and the cafes. For his ovens he had kitchen engineer Jean tripier to develope a special oven,what he came up with was a convection oven with 8 double racks 5 fans to control moisture and a temputure gauge that heats only to the requisite temperture (pretty cool huh?)

    There website is www.missmerinque.com
    cc
    I just tried they web site and it did not come up for some reason Sorry
    But heres the tele # 760-471-3838
     
  13. isa

    isa

    Messages:
    3,236
    Likes Received:
    11
  14. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Thanks for the info, CC.

    This should help: www.missmeringue.com
    I just replaced the q with a g.
     
  15. cape chef

    cape chef

    Messages:
    4,508
    Likes Received:
    32
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Thanks guys LOL:blush: :blush:
    cc
     
  16. angrychef

    angrychef

    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    10
    Thanks Cape chef for the info. on Miss Meringue. I recently started using their mini meringue disks/cups and they are really cute, inexpensive and jazz up the dessert tray. Since I'm here in L.A. I think I should check out this Champagne bakery. I'm surprised hardly anyone knows about it around here.
     
  17. rabajara

    rabajara

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    2
    Exp:
    Caterer
    I baked pies for several months, trying to master the crust, meringue and especially the Butterscotch filling. I am only going to ask one question here. I made 4 butterscotch pies and the filling tasted like butterscotch. Made 2 more and the filling tasted like sweet filling, the only changes was the light brown sugar was a different brand. Would that make a difference in taste ?
    Please help, I am trying to get a Catering small business off the ground with taste that is great on everything I cook.
     
  18. chefpeon

    chefpeon Kitchen Dork

    Messages:
    718
    Likes Received:
    158
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef 27 years
    You can probably answer your own question by tasting the sugars in question. If the second brand has a lighter sweeter flavor, then there you go. When it comes to butterscotch, you want the flavor to taste somewhat caramelized, and you won't get that with lighter brown sugars. Using dark brown sugar might be a little too much depending on how dark it is, so you might want to experiment with a combination of light and dark brown sugars to suit your taste. You can also create your own "custom" brown sugar by adding molasses, to the varying degree that you want, to a light brown sugar. Just put the sugar in a mixer and while mixing with the paddle attachment slowly, add in some molasses til combined.
     
    drirene and kuan like this.
  19. rabajara

    rabajara

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    2
    Exp:
    Caterer
    Thank you very much. I figure it had to be the brand of sugar. I got a dark brown sugar and was thinking on going half & half on next pie. It has got to taste like butterscotch and not just sweet pie filling. I appreciate your answer.
     
  20. rabajara

    rabajara

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    2
    Exp:
    Caterer
    I got the taste down to a good butterscotch flavor. Meringue is still weeping. Trying adding it on hot filling & cold filling still same results. Cook at 350 for 15 to 18 mins. I have to tilt the pie to drain off the syrupy liquid. I did not do this back in the middle 80's. Keep on, I will be telling you I am older then dirt.