Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lemon Cream Pie

When Life Gives Me Lemons I Make Lemonade by The Boy Least Likely To
I've never been one of those people who can just eat a lemon outright.  My mouth puckers with even the thought of trying.  But temper that sourness with some sweetness and even some creaminess and I am all smiles.  This song was on the soundtrack for the movie "Easy A."  I like it's simple message of not being overcome with the downers in life - figuring out a way to turn things positive again.  Or as I heard in a talk in church a few weeks ago - learning to be a cork - not a stone - in the Sea of Troubles and popping right back up to the surface.  That's kind of what this pie is all about.  Definitely turning those sour lemons into the happiest of goodies!

It was my birthday a couple days ago.  
Hence the Lemon Pie!  
I had been wanting to try something a little different than my usual Lemon Meringue Pie.  

I'm one of those people that gets a little giddy when I slice into something and find layers of surprises.  From the outside, everything looks basic and straightforward.  But when the cut is made and the insides are revealed, the appearance of little bands are like eye candy to my tongue.

My fork immediately starts poking and sampling what is in each level.  I want to taste them on their own before I commit to them all on my fork at the same time.  Think of it as tuning up the orchestra, if you will.  Oh, you know there's going to be a symphony.  But you have to make sure everyone is in tune first!

I messed around a little with my usual Lemon Meringue Pie recipe and folded some whipped cream into some of the curd.  It created some lemony clouds, of which I can tell you now - I'm a fan!  I had some lemon juice left over so I used it as the liquid in the pie dough.  Some people might feel the need to forego the meringue topping in a situation like this.  But that thought made me very, very sad - like a stone sinking to the bottom of the sea!  So I quickly made like a cork and played the "It's my birthday and I'll do what I want!" card and slathered that sugary gooeyness all over the top and torched it.  It was a good decision!

I also made a "filling only" version, without the pie shell, which I topped with some whipped cream.
HOLY COW!  Such a good idea if you're not wanting to deal with a pie shell!
Birthdays seem to come and go more quickly now.  For that reason, I've decided that we should now celebrate birthweeks.  I mean, after a certain age - let's say 50 - it just seems like it should be more of a celebration than just a day, right?  One of my friends gave me a card this year with the sentiment that we trade our youth for wisdom - it's the advantage of getting older.  True - so true.  But my wisdom tells me that these are the perks of getting older ~
Little ones to remind you to

Happy Birthday to me!

Lemon Cream Pie
One pie crust, baked and cooled (Use lemon juice in place of the water if you have enough)

1 c. butter (238 g)
1 c. sugar (204 g)
1 c. lemon juice (216 mL)
zest from 3 lemons
10 egg yolks

1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla
2 T. sugar

Place half of the butter, 1/2 c. of the sugar, the lemon juice and zest in a sauce pan and heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat.

Use a bowl with a nonslip bottom or secure a bowl on your work surface by placing it on a moistened washcloth or towel.  Whisk together the remaining 1/2 c. of sugar and the egg yolks.  While continuing to whisk, slowly add the hot lemon mixture to the egg yolk and sugar mixture.  You are tempering the egg yolks.  Adding the hot liquid slowly gives the yolks time to get used to the increased temperature and prevents them from solidifying into scrambled eggs!  NOT what you want in your curd!  After you have added all the hot mixture, return the ingredients to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Mixture will come to a boil and thicken.  When it has thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining butter.

Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and work the curd through the strainer.  This will remove lumps, if any.

Place all but 1 c. of the curd into the bottom of the baked and cooled pie shell and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap to the surface.  This prevents a skin from forming.  Place in the fridge (or freezer if you're short on time) to cool and allow the curd to set.  Cool the remaining curd.

Whip the heavy cream with the whisk attachment on your mixer.  When it starts to thicken, add the vanilla and sugar and continue to whip until it forms soft peaks.  Fold the cooled lemon curd into the whipped cream and, when the first curd layer in the pie is set, spread the creamy curd mixture over the top and chill to allow the second layer to set.

5 egg whites
1 t. vanilla
1 2/3 c. sugar (318 g)

Make a swiss meringue by fitting your mixer with the whisk attachment.  Using a hand whisk, whisk the ingredients together in a heat proof bowl or top of a double boiler.  Place bowl over a pan with about an inch of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Whisk as the steam heats the mixture to 145 degrees F.  At this point, the sugar will have dissolved and you won't feel any grit if you rub a drop between your fingers.  

Pour the egg white mixture into the mixer bowl and beat the ingredients on high until they thicken and form a satiny gloss and can make stiff peaks.  Pipe or spread the meringue over the top of the pie.  Toast the top by placing under the broiler or using a kitchen torch.

For the parfait, just spoon the layers into serving cups and chill after adding each layer.  Top with some whipped cream!


  1. This looks so delicious- Perfect for upcoming summer events too!! Hope you had a great birthday!!

    Hey, I was thinking the other day- I think it would be fun to have an "Ask the Pro" section or something like that on your blog where people could submit questions to culinary professionals such as yourself. For example, I want to know how restaurants prepare the food so that it stays the correct temperature during the entire time you are eating it. When I make something warm for dinner, it almost always has turned cool before we finish the meal. That's annoying! What am I doing wrong??

    Regardless, Happy Bitherday again and great post!! :)

    1. Hey, Team C!

      My birthday - or birth week - is going just great! I will be making this often! Thinking of making a bunch of curd and freezing it. That way I can have some on hand! Sooo refreshing!

      I will consider your "Ask the Pro" suggestion. Sounds like it could be fun!

      As for your dilemma, commercial kitchens have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to get your food out to you hot. Some of those tricks involve a heat lamp that can keep some foods warm while others are finishing. It also warms the plate, which would greatly help keeping warm foods warm for longer periods - just like your chilled plate at the salad bar keeps your salad colder longer. But my hunch, having been a mom of little ones myself once upon a time, is that when you eat out, chances are you don't have as many distractions as you might at home. Maybe we eat a little more focused when we dine out so we finish our food while it's still hot. I, personally, eat so fast (a very bad habit, indeed!) that my food never has a chance to cool! I hope this helps!

  2. P.S. Don't ask- I have no idea what "Bitherday" means. I'm sure I meant to write "Birthday."

    1. I interpreted "Bitherday" as a blustery and busy birthday! I like it!

  3. Oh so wonderful! I'm talking about the little ones of course. The pie looked Great but those hams at end made my day.
    Aunt Linda

    1. Thanks, Aunt Linda! They always make my day!