How NOT To Make a Lemon Meringue Pie

December 31, 2007 at 5:41 am | Posted in Oops, Tips | 1 Comment

SCENE: Tonight I made a lemon meringue pie for my father to celebrate his birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!) It’s his favorite. I mentioned earlier that my mother gave me a handwritten, family-recipe-collection cookbook for Christmas. Well, my mom included “Dad’s Favorite Lemon Meringue Pie” recipe. Since it was DAD’s birthday and this recipe was for his favorite lemon-meringue pie, I thought it would be the perfect recipe to make.

Mistake #1: I decided that it would be a great idea (since lemon meringue is so time-critical) to make the pie mise en place. So I did a quick review of the ingredients, gathered them, and set about prepping and measuring so that everything would be ready when the time came. NOT a bad idea with lemon meringue. The bad idea entered the picture when I reviewed the recipe, had doubts about it (it didn’t have any cream of tartar, only 1 tablespoon of corn starch, etc), and didn’t double-check the recipe for accuracy.

Mistake #2: I followed the first set of directions, mixed the water with the sugar, salt and corn starch, and set it above the double boiler to thicken. Stirring constantly. This is not wrong. What was wrong was waiting more than 30 minutes for it to thicken before I started to wonder why nothing was happening. Did I mention I was stirring constantly?

Mistake #3: Trying to rescue the recipe, I took the whole mess off the double boiler and put it directly on the burner to thicken. It did – momentarily – then went back to a soupy, liquid mess. So I kept stirring, although by this time I was REALLY frustrated.

The aforesaid soupy mess. LOL

RESOLUTION: So finally I just said “the heck with it” and put it aside. I went and retrieved another (fool-proof) recipe and started over. But … the new/improved recipe called for 6 tablespoons of corn starch – not 1. Therein laid the problem all along. More cornstarch and I’d have had an award-winning recipe!! Darn it all – but it all worked out okay.

&#149 Never, never, never ignore your instincts. If a recipe doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.
&#149 When a recipe isn’t working out in the first 20 minutes or so, don’t keep trying. It will only lead to heartache and frustration for all.
&#149 If your recipe has failed, compare it to other recipes for the same item. This will help you not only to learn what the problem was, but also to learn more about how ingredients work – both individually and together.


1 Comment »

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  1. LOL. sorry to laugh at your unsatisfying lemon meringue pie fiasco but it really was a good read. I am sure your dad appreciated the effort! 🙂

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