Lemon Chiffon Pie
23 June 2008

So the weather around here was cooler than normal today, and with a breeze, the mid-90s were not so bad. However, I still didn’t much feel like a hot pie, nor did I really want to turn the oven on any more than I absolutely had to.

My favourite (read: only) little helper was over today (this is the one who helped me with the cherry pie), so we looked through Ken Haedrich’s Pie to get some ideas. We decided on Lemon Chiffon. It’s different from anything I’ve made. Recently I’ve been making so many fruit pies because of all the fresh fruit that’s coming in season. I’ve made cream pies before, but never a chiffon pie. I was a little unsure of it too, since it requires folding egg whites in to a mixture and I dread folding.

Well the other problem we discovered was with gelatin. We are all vegetarian (Munchkin included) and while once in a while we’ll eat something with gelatin (Jello if it’s mixed with something, and also we do have Skittles on occasion), we’d prefer to not make the pie with gelatin (as the recipe asked). We went on a gelatin-substitute quest. Safeway didn’t have anything, but at the local health food store, we decided on agar agar. (Not just “agar”, I reminded Munchkin, but “agar agar”.)

Google and I teamed up and discovered the proper ways to convert gelatin measurements in a recipe to agar agar measurements. As it turns out though, preparation is not the same.

The recipe that follows is the ingredients, but not the order I prepared them it. This pie was pretty much a complete failure and a disaster for most of its life, but I was determined to salvage it. These are the steps I took, minus the failed steps, and in the proper order I feel they should’ve gone. We haven’t yet eaten the pie, but it seemed pretty well salvaged by the end…

1 – 9 in graham cracker crust (I made this from scratch, but I will post the recipe later)

1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp agar agar

1/2 cup lemonade (we used Crystal Lite, I think)
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh if possible, but the kind that comes in the lemon shaped bottle is good)
1/4 tsp lemon extract (pure, not imitation)
(yes, this is VERY lemon-y chiffon!)
3/4 cup + 1/3 cup sugar (separated–awkward measurements due to mistake making)
4 large* eggs, separated (Munchkin, regarding egg separation: “Does this mean put the brown eggs in one pile and the white eggs in another pile?”)
pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pour water in a small saucepan and add agar agar. Let this sit at room temperature during the next step to let it get soft.

In a medium-sized saucepan (non-stick if you have it!), whisk up lemonade, lemon juice, lemon extract, 3/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Make sure it is thoroughly mixed before turning to medium heat. Cook over medium heat (do not boil!), stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to about the texture of thick cream.

If you can multi-task, bring agar agar to a boil now. Otherwise, take lemon mixture off heat before turning your attention to the agar agar. Boil and stir agar agar until dissolved. Agar agar dissolved in water around 185F. I had problems here, so I used a candy thermometer to make sure it go up to nearly 200F. Strain (to pull out any undissolved bits–if there is a lot of undissolved agar left, put it in the pan again with more water and boil) into lemon mixture. Stir well. Put this whole bit into a bowl and refrigerate about 1 hour. IT SHOULD THICKEN UP!

Towards the end of this hour, put egg whites in a large bowl. Blend until they peak (soft peaks). Beat in cream of tartar. Beat in 1/3 cup sugar until you get glossy, stiff-ish peaks. Beat in vanilla. This should not be quite as dry as a meringue, but should still be pretty stiff.

Gently and lovingly fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture. Tilt the lemon mixture bowl sideways a bit (about 45 degrees or so). Plop a portion of the egg white mixture in the upper corner. Using a broad spoon or a rubber spatula, cut down through the middle then, fold up and in on one side. Repeat this process until the egg white mixture is thoroughly mixed, but has lost a minimal amount of fluffiness.

Pour mixture into the crust. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerate for several (3+) hours or overnight. Serve up with some whipped cream!

*My note about large eggs: Have you ever seen a recipe that called for small eggs? Every recipe I’ve ever seen involving eggs calls for large eggs. You’d think by now they’d assume to just write “eggs” and you’d know not to get something the size of a hummingbird egg. But I suppose it’s a “just in case” sort of thing.

Also… I havenae any pictures of this process. I had several reasons, not the least of which was because it was a dreadful mess of a process. I will add a picture of the finished pie when I open it up in the morning though.

Sweet Cherry Pie with Grated Crust
31 May 2008

Alright, so I recruited myself some good free child labour (my niece) and yesterday evening we pitted about 12 cups of cherries. This morning we got right to work. The leftover crust from the top of yesterday’s strawberry rhubarb was the freezer—not as a disc but roughly as a rectangle/cube. (This is an idea out of Pie by Ken Haedrich.) We rolled out one disc of simply flaky crust (with a “new” rolling pin—I just got my grandma’s rolling pin, which was her mother’s before her! It’s a simple wood one, but it worked great). Inverted into the pie dish, made a ridge around the edge and crimped, then put in the fridge while we moved on.

Next, the filling. The general idea for this came from Pie also, but he called for cherry liqueur or peach schnapps, neither of which I have. He also didn’t include almond extract, which I believe is essential to cherry pie.

After Munchkin and I made and sampled the first pie, I made some changes to the recipe as I made a second pie (this one for the friend of mine who actually hand picked all the cherries).

5(ish) cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted
2/3 cup sugar + 3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract*
1/4 tsp almond extract*
*(I measured these low so it wasn’t quite 1/4 each, but just a little less)
2 tbsp cornstarch

Mix together cherries, 2/3 cup sugar, lemon juice, and extracts. Mix up really well and taste because cherries taste absolutely delicious this way. (Okay, that’s not really a step in the recipe but I definitely recommend it.) Let sit for a bit (about 15 minutes will do) to let the juices do their thing.

In a separate small bowl, thoroughly mix together 3 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp cornstarch. Add this to the cherries when they’re done sitting.

Stir it all up and pour into pie crust. Using the large holes on a cheese grater, grate the block of frozen crust dough (assuming you don’t bake non-stop like I’ve been doing, you’ll need to make a double crust pastry recipe for this—one crust rolled out and put in the pan, and one crust frozen in a block). Sprinkle grated crust over the top of the cherries. Make a nice thick layer. Dust with sugar (Ken Haedrich recommends coarse sanding sugar, but I didn’t have any lying about so I just used plain white granulated sugar).

Bake at 400°F for about 30 minutes. Rotate pie 180 degrees. I had some trouble getting the first pie to thicken, so I modified my bake time for the second one. The crust was plenty done though, so I pulled the oven shelf out and layered strips of aluminium foil around the outer edges of the crust. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for another 35-40 minutes. At about 30 minutes, check to make sure the juices are bubbling! They have to bubble for a good long while—I made sure mine bubbled for 15 minutes and the filling is nice and thick this time.

When the pie is done baking, remove from oven and set on a cooling rack. Let cool for about 2 hours (this was the longest two hours of my neice’s life!). Tastes great served with whipped cream and/or vanilla bean ice cream.

I got Pie!
14 May 2008

Today I picked up Ken Haedrich’s book Pie from the library. I am ridiculously excited to see what sorts of fun ideas and tips I can pull from it!