Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too!

 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

 

Craftsy Writer

Entries in pie (33)

Monday
Jan282008

Boo-Meringue: An FAQ and a Daring Bakers Challenge

 

Lemon with Meringue, with a little help from a friend ;-)

Meringues: light-as air confections; a marriage made in heaven with lemon pies. But on a deeper level (and at this point we pause to look the slightly-browned puff soulfully in the eye), who are you, little meringue? We had these questions on our mind when taking on our first Daring Bakers Challenge; so, we took some time to do some research on this sweet treat. Here's Cakespy's response to some Frequently Asked Questions about the mighty meringue and its relationship with that famous pie, as well as our offering to the Daring Baker's Challenge!

 

Q: What is a meringue?
A: Most simply put, it's a confection made from whipped egg whites and fine (caster) sugar. The way it helps us to think of it is, kind of like whipped cream, but instead of cream, egg whites (for what it's worth).

Q: What is the difference between meringue cookies and meringue on top of a pie?
A: There are different ways to make meringues. The "soft" meringue that you will see on top of pies has only a small amount of sugar to egg white; the "hard" meringues which may be bagged or sold in boxes, are crumbly but quite solid; this is a result of a higher sugar-to-egg white ratio.

Q: Where does its funny name come from?
A: Depends on who you ask. Some insist that it got its name from the Swiss town of Meiringen where some claim the confection was invented by a pastry chef in 1720. However, the word "meringue" appeared in a French cookbook from 1692; so, there is some debate over where the name really comes from. The Dictionary of etymology cites "unknown origin". Quel mysterieuse!

Q: Why do I never see Lemon pies without meringue?
A: Good question, and while you may see a tarte citron, you'll rarely see a lemon pie sans meringue. Although we couldn't find a definitive answer, here's what we think: lemons are sour. Their taste alone doesn't really make a good sweet, so frequently they will have a sweet accompaniment; think of the lemon bar's shortbread crust, even that tarte citron's sweet pastry shell. Since the pie crust will frequently not be sweet, we think that perhaps the addition of the sugary meringue is to add a much-needed sweet complement to the sour lemony filling.

Q: Are meringues delicious?
A: Meringues are, on their own...very sweet. So, it depends on the taster. Marie-Antoinette, that queen of sugar she was, is said to have adored them; to the Cakespy crew, in general they're not entirely compelling all their lonesome. To us, the true goodness of the meringue is brought out by other flavors which accompany and complement that sweetness.

Q: What does it mean when a meringue "weeps"?
A: On a Lemon Meringue pie, a magical place exists where meringue ends and filling begins. Not so magical when a syrup forms in that layer and seeps out while you're cutting the pie in front of guests. Usually, this is because the filling is undercooked on the bottom, and moisture is held suspended. How do you keep your meringue from weeping? Act quickly upon taking your pie from the oven: meringues should always be set on piping hot pie filling to adhere properly. More suggestions can be found here.

Q: What is a marshmallow meringue?
A: A marshmallow meringue is pretty much a meringue, but with marshmallow cream added (think fluff), and is a wonderful accompaniment to sweet potato pie or sweet potato cupcakes (photo left, Marshmallow meringue topped cupcake from Trophy Cupcakes). We like this recipe for its tiny addition of salt, which seems to make the taste come alive.

 

Q: Is Divinity a meringue?
A: While they are similar, we'd say that they're more like cousins than immediate relatives; the ingredients and methods differ. While meringues consist of egg whites and super-fine sugar, divinity calls for a mixture of white sugar, corn syrup and vanilla; also, the method of making divinity is more consistent with candymaking techniques, calling for a syrup to be made and heated before the beaten egg whites are added. For a recipe, check out this link.

Q: Can you teach me to meringue like in Dirty Dancing?
A: Silly rabbit, you're mistaking the meringue with the merengue, which is a type of Latin dance. While doing the merengue is an excellent way to work up an appetite for meringues, they are completely different things.

Interested in finding out more? We found the following resources very helpful: whatscookingamerica.net and joyofbaking.com.

And as for the Daring Bakers Challenge?

 

Lemon Tart
Well, we cheated a little bit to go for the extra tartlet challenge (we got some help from a talented baker who *ahem* does it for a living--wouldn't have looked like this if made by Mrs. Cakespy alone), but ours did come out quite nicely, guess it makes a difference when you have all those tools and gadgets of a commercial kitchen. It was really fun--Head Spy Jessie had never "done" meringues before, so it was a very interesting experience. Oh, the power that a mini torch makes you feel in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Nov082007

Scents of Humor: Aunt Sadie's Apple and Pumpkin Pie Candles

The line between "full sensory experience" and "sensory assault" can be fine, especially around Thanksgiving. Take the sight of the turkey on the table (ooh) versus the earlier sight of the turkey being stuffed (ew). The taste of pumpkin pie (yum) versus the taste of Aunt Pattie's sugar-free low carb pumpkin pie (yuck). The smell of grandma's homemade stuffing, versus the smell of...grandma.

Time to treat your senses with pie-scented candles by Aunt Sadie's, Inc. This Boston-based company was founded with an actual Aunt (Sadie Denton) in mind, and their products, inspired by her baking and family fêtes, are a throwback to a simpler time. The pie scents, available for the holiday season, are room-filling, spicy and delicious: the baked apple pie has a warm, apple-sugar scent which is more toasty and spicy than "fruity"; the pumpkin pie scent is inviting with a spicy richness that instantly makes a room feel cozy. They even have a "Thanksgiving Dinner" candle, which (shh!) is actually just a pumpkin scent, but why not light it up and see if anyone does indeed smell turkey?

Just a little old-fashioned, olfactory fun for you.

Aunt Sadie's Candles are $16 each and can be found online at auntsadiesinc.com.

Thank you to the kind fellows at Aunt Sadie's for letting us use their images!

Thursday
Oct112007

Pie, Oh My: Pumpkin Pies Available at North Hill Bakery

Some say that the Christmas holidays are the most wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, those people are wrong. Sorry Santa, but this year it's all about October, especially with momentous events like the first pumpkin pies of the year debuting at the North Hill Bakery in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Our Head Spy was on hand to sample some of the very first batch of pies from their ovens (it's hard being a sleuth sometimes) and reports that the owners Tracey Peterson and Margaret Rumpeltes (both veteran Seattle bakers and cooks) certainly know what they're doing: after roasting their own pumpkins to fill a buttery, flaky crust, the pies are topped with fresh whipped cream and spice cookies that act like a mini-top crust and are the perfect complement to the smooth, creamy pie filling (which had not a bit of that jello-y finish that plagues canned-filling pies). The resulting pie is so satisfying, you'll even want to eat it for breakfast (which one of the bakers, Mary, admits to doing from time to time).

But be warned, these pies are a bit like the vibrant leaves of Autumn: in season for only a short time, they won't last forever. So enjoy the season while you can!

Cakespy Note: No one trick-pony here, North Hill Bakery also has a full array of charming treats, fall and otherwise; check out their adorable cookies and dreamy chocolate cake!

Available at the North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Ave. East (b/t E. Republican & E. Mercer Sts); for more information, visit northhillbakery.com.

North Hill Bakery in Seattle

Page 1 ... 1 2 3 4
© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.