aqua fortis

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Chemistry

It always amazes me how much baking is about chemistry. (And yes, I'm just starting right in without any rationalization of my long absence, and no, there's not gonna be one, so there.) I set out to make my first lemon meringue pie today, which I'm going to serve tomorrow evening to Rob and our friend Fumi. I was daunted by the intimidatingly lengthy instructions in the Joy of Cooking, which included a lot of finicky specifications for timing, temperature, and the interactions of both. But I'm not a bad baker, on the whole, so I thought I'd try it, despite only having semi-success with meringue cookies in the past. Apparently I learned from my mistakes, since the photo above depicts my good(-looking, at least) pie. What remains to be seen is whether the bottom of the meringue is, as the cookbook put it, "slippery" or if it's nice and set. I have to say the lemon curd part tasted awesome. I'm not entirely sure about the crust, either, which I prepared using a different method ("pat in the pan") than I normally do. I just didn't feel motivated to slave over a bowl with the pastry cutter. We'll have to see how that went. I'm hoping good ingredients help--organic local eggs and Meyer lemons.

Even though we're not having our big dinner with all the trimmings until tomorrow--or the family dinner with my in-laws, which is Saturday--I still feel the holiday spirit. (How can I not, with that pie staring at me?) I called my mom. I called my dad. I even called my aunt & uncle, and had a chance to talk to my cousins (and put up--hopefully relatively gracefully--with my aunt pestering me about babies). This is a lot of phone calls for me. Making phone calls to multiple relatives always says "holidays." Also, I haven't done a lick of "real work" since midafternoon, which is pretty good for me these days. Instead, I started playing Twilight Princess on the Wii, made a pie, and continued labeling photos from our trip. It's going to take ages to actually sort everything and upload a good selection, but for now, you can check out Day One in Rome. If the chemistry continues to be right--and I'm adding a little red wine to the mix--tonight will hopefully be relaxing, tomorrow should be a tasty food extravaganza with a roast duck, and Saturday...well, there will be hyperactive nephews aged 2 and 4, but plenty of turkey and thankfulness, if I may indulge in a sappy moment for a moment.


Vivian said...

The pie looks AMAZING! Lemon meringue is one of my favorites. Happy Thanksgiving!

tanita davis said...

Dude, you're the only one who thinks it's sappy. Just sayin'.

I remember writing about Lainey making meringue, and having to have a PERFECTLY clean copper bowl, etc. etc. etc. How they do it in cooking school is BRUTAL, making the plebes learn to whip all of that by hand before they turn them loose on equipment. But you have to learn the rules and earn the trust before you break them, I guess.

The pie looks like perfection. D. makes a perfectly gorgeous lemon meringue pie, and I cannot stand it - love lemon, hate meringue. So, we go with lemon bars and live to argue about dessert another day.

adrienne said...

That pie does look lovely. I'm always telling myself that I am going to learn more about the chemistry that makes baking work one of these days. It is the science I seem to use most frequently.