An enjoyable class today. Everyone was in fine mood and I made the acquaintance of some new table mates. I am happy when I meet people who share a similar sense of humour. It is always nice to share a laugh or two.
Today we were taught to make a lemon meringue and pumpkin pie. Both are considered custard pies of sorts, except one, the pie shell is baked first and the custard cooked on the stove, while the other is baked along with its crust.
First off, the lemon meringue pie. It begins by blind baking the pie shell. The dough is rolled out. Again, I am so happy that I am starting to get better at rolling out dough. I am learning better technique every time. We want to ensure the pie crust dough stays cold. We also ensure the oven is hot, today we have it warmed up to 425 degrees. It has been docked, to prevent air bubbles, lined with foil and beans to weigh it down. We bake for 15 minutes just to set the dough, then remove the foil and beans. Then bake longer until it gains some colour.
While the pie shell cools, it is time to make the lemon custard. In a saucepan, we bring water, sugar, salt and lemon zest to a boil. In a separate bowl, lemon juice, water and cornstarch are mixed along with 5 eggs. We temper the water, sugar mixture into the egg mixture and then the entire egg mixture is added to the saucepan. Everything is continuously stirred until thick. It resembles a lemon yellow pudding. Lastly, some butter is added, which melts and is well mixed in.
By now the pie shell is cool and the custard thick. The custard is poured into the shell.
Time to make meringue! There are 3 types of meringue – French meringue which is uncooked and requires super fine sugar to be whipped into egg whites , an Italian meringue which involves beating hot sugar syrup in to egg whites and a Swiss meringue where sugar and egg whites are heated and then whipped to stiff peaks.
For today’s class, Swiss meringue is the choice. Egg whites and sugar, heated until hot to touch using a double boiler. Then whipped for about 15 minutes until cooled and stiff peaks form. One way to describe the consistency is that it resembles marshmallow fluff.
Then using a spoon, or a piping bag, the meringue is layered over the lemon custard. Using a mini blow torch, we scald the merge to add come colour.
Time for pumpkin pie! The filling is made with pumpkin pulp, brown sugar, eggs, spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg and milk. Although evaporated milk could be used instead.
The mixture is then poured into the pie shell and baked until the filling has a slight jiggle and the edges show some colour.
Today’s class went smoothly and quickly but it was full of great little tidbits of baking advice. I am so thankful that the chef teachers I have had throughout my classes have been so gracious with their wisdom and with sharing their real world experiences in baking.
Next week one savoury pie and a pie cake. Stay tuned! =)