Hi everyone, it's Jane posting today. I'm a Daring Baker, and today is our day to post on the January challenge.
This month's Daring Bakers challenge was Lemon Meringue Pie. I have to admit, I was rather downhearted when I found out what we would be baking. This was only my second month participating in the group, and last month's Yule Log didn't work out well. I didn't want to start off 0-for-2. I mean, vegan meringue? Not likely. But I joined this group to force myself to start baking again. Now that I'm vegan, I've had to re-learn a few things, some of which I've gotten and other things still require further study. But I do know that you can't make meringue without egg whites!
Not wanting to give up before I even started, I went out and purchased the ingredients for the rest of the pie. But what was I going to do about the meringue? I scoured the internet for vegan alternatives. I found one which uses agar and looked like the real thing. Unfortunately, I also found very mixed reviews on this topping and didn't want to risk it as I was planning on serving these to company. (Something I was taught NEVER to do!)
Ultimately, I settled on this concoction:
- 3/4 cup lite silken tofu (firm), crumbled
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons hazelnut oil, walnut oil or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
The tofu would add some protein to the dessert which would compensate for the lack of nutritional value in the the lemon filling since I would be using Ener-G Egg Replacer, which doesn't have any protein at all. And this meringue alternative sounded like it would have a nice sweet taste. So now I had a plan of attack. Time to get to work!
We had the option of making a pie, or "tartlets." I opted for the tartlets, thinking I could customize them if any portion of the recipe didn't work out. A far less wasteful approach!
The crust was no problem. I've made crust many times before. This recipe was easily "veganizable" - I simply replaced the butter with vegan butter. Then I shaped the tartlets bottoms and into the oven they went. They looked very cute and I was optimistic.
Now I was getting in to uncharted territory... it was time to make the pie filling. I was able to follow the recipe exactly, with the exception of the 5 egg yolks, and a bit of yellow food dye which was necessary to make the lemon filling look like lemon filling. The Ener-G egg replacer has instructions for replacing whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks on the box. So, I prepared 5 "egg yolks." This was the second time I'd used that product and I wasn't really confident that it would work here. But, to my delight, the pie filling was delicious! It just looked a little weak. The lemon and lemon zest didn't really do enough to color the filling yellow. So that's where the food dye came in. Lemon pie filling should be yellow, after all!
Lane was hovering over me as I topped the tartlet crusts. He loves lemon meringue and knew I'd let him lick the spatula when I was finished. We "accidentally" broke one of the crusts, and so, we got a sneak preview of the lemon pie sans meringue. Again, it was truly delicious. Now I was feeling rather confident that this was a dessert I could serve.
But it was time to start thinking about the most troubling aspect of this pie, the meringue. I'd already decided on the tofu topping mentioned above.
People on the Daring Bakers board were commenting that the filling broke down when they put the pie back in to cook/brown the meringue. Well, I wasn't going to have that problem. My topping didn't need to cook. One hurdle down. Unfortunately, I didn't love the way my "meringue" tasted. Neither did Lane. It wasn't bad, it's just one of those things you either like, or you don't, and we didn't. Instead of topping the tartlets like a traditional meringue, I opted to put a light decorative line across the top. I thought the lemon alone wasn't going to be interesting enough, and the challenge did allow for a fruit topping of some sort, so I made a simple warm blueberry and sugar jelly.
When it came time for dessert to be served, I microwaved the blueberries and spooned them over the lemon tarts. Dessert was a hit which was evidenced by the fact that not one bite remained. Yay! My first successful Daring Bakers challenge.