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My next Lemon Meringue Pie? » digest LA
Schematic NY pie contest

pie contest I organized at work

I have always had a sweet tooth. I love Tastycakes, Watchamacallits, Peanut Chews, Snickers, Twix ice cream bars, you name it; but growing up we never had sweets in the house. I would get a crazy craving for sugar and was trapped in the suburbs with no means of transportation. One thing we did always have in the house were eggs. And we had sugar because all those fake sugars hadn’t really been invented yet. And flour. If I was really lucky we had cocoa or unsweetened chocolate. We also had floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with books and quite a few of those books were cookbooks.

So I would pour through the cookbooks and figure out all the different things we had the ingredients to make and make them. Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts was a good resource. My parents would walk into the kitchen to cakes, cookies, tarts, even mandel bread. People say that cooking is way easier than baking because baking is a science, but I love baking… I love science. It all makes sense. I had incredible luck with baking until I encountered the dreaded Lemon Meringue Pie. I made Lemon Meringue Pie so many times and it would never turn out right. One time the custard wouldn’t set. Another time I couldn’t whip the egg whites into meringue. I couldn’t understand why things I had done easily for other recipes now just failed to work. I became obsessed with getting i right. My parents even started to help me. I think my dad finally put an end to it when he asked me, “Do you even like Lemon Meringue Pie?”

No, Lemon Meringue Pie is terrible. It is overly sweet and garish and thickened with cornstarch. I had made way more delicious and sophisticated desserts before this setback. The thing is I learned so much making that stupid pie over and over again. I learned about thickening agents and custards and meringues and pie crusts. So, why am I sitting here thinking about this? I realize that I need my Lemon Meringue Pie for cooking. This is how I learn… I need to make one thing over and over again until I understand everything about making it. And then I might hate it, but at least I will know how to make it. Any suggestions?

  • Evan

    You left out a couple of key facts. 1. You were somewhere around 8 years old when you started making Lemon Meringue pies. 2. You made the Lemon Meringue two days in a row. The first day the Meringue didn’t come out right. The second day you made a beautiful looking pie, but the lemon part was like soup. This was followed by a complete emotional breakdown.

  • james

    remember that low fat cheese cake you made? in retrospect i question its low-fatness… but that thing was amazing. I think lemon meringue pie is wonderful… but i have a vested interest… i am also garish, overly sweet and full of shi… starch.

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