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Mar 29, 2007 07:14 AM

Weeping meringue on pie help

How do you keep a meringue on a pie from weeping. I know the basics, no fat, no yolks, cream of tartar, yada yada yada. My problem must be in the baking. At what point do you add it, what temp, how long, any secrets? No matter what I try, within a few hours they always start weeping. Thanks.

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  1. If you live in an area that is humid, you'll have weeping, in my opinion. An old bakery trick to prevent this is to take a very thin slice of sponge cake, large enough to cover at least most of the pie - like a slice one of those weird cake bottoms that they sell for a large strawberry shortcake/torte - and put it over the filling before you put the meringue on it to cook. Thin enough, it will kind of blend into the filling and yet absorb the extra moisture from the meringue.

    1. According to some things I've read, the meringue weeps because of the egg whites not being fully cooked or stabilized. There are a couple things you can do to try and prevent this.

      The first is to make sure your filling is HOT when you top it with the meringue. If you fill your pie with cool filling, throw it in the oven for about five minutes to get it hot, then top it. This ensures that the bottom of the meringue gets cooked as well as the top when you put it in the oven.

      The second solution is to stabilize your meringue with a cooked cornstarch mixture, which helps to prevent both weeping and your meringue deflating.
      First, combine 1 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp sugar in a small saucepan. Add 1/3 cup water and stir until you get a thin paste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring the whole time. When it gets to a boil, let it boil for 15 seconds, then remove from heat. Your paste should be thick and translucent. Put a lid on, then grab the rest of your meringue ingredients. Whip your whites, cream of tartar and sugar (however you usually do) until stiff. Reduce your speed to low. Then add the paste a tablespoon at a time until it is incorporated. Bump the speed back up to medium and beat for about 10 seconds. Top and bake as usual.

      I've found that doing both of these things really helps prevent the weeping.

      14 Replies
      1. re: QueenB

        I'd never heard that second one before. Thanks. Have you ever heard of "cooking" the egg whites before whipping them? I read recently a recipe that involved using a double boiler to get the egg whites to around 160 before whipping.

        1. re: kindofabigdeal

          Yes, it's called a French meringue where I'm from. Those will help, but, trust me, if it's majorly humid, it may still weep. Juniors in Brooklyn does the sponge thing too, so it's probably a trade thing. Good luck!

          1. re: teamkitty

            I do the cooking it thing before whipping. I think it gets glossier and holds up better than whipping alone. I have stopped baking meringue and use my kitchen torch instead.

            My Mom always said make sure the Meringue makes a good seal w/ the crust, and try not to put the finished pie in the fridge before serving unless you absolutely have to.

            1. re: danna

              an excuse to use the torch sounds good to me

              1. re: kindofabigdeal

                You nailed it. Has every cook in the country been given a Williams Sonoma kitchen torch as a gift? I've made creme brulee with it a total of once. (and it didn't work that well...I can't get the sugar to brown evenly) But it really looks pretty on meringue.

                1. re: danna

                  I used the torch on the last meringue I made and it worked great for browning, especially the peaks.

                  Just be aware that the interior of the meringue will not cook with the torch, so you'll have raw egg whites in there (unless you use the method you'd talked about before with cooking them first). Just in case you're squeamish about raw eggs...

                  1. re: danna

                    no WS torch for me. I go with a plumber's torch. Cheaper and hotter.

            2. re: kindofabigdeal

              Yes, I have heard of cooking the egg whites first. Can't say I've ever tried it though.

              And according to the Joy of Cooking, humidity doesn't have much to do with meringue weeping at all. If you have the cookbook, read the pages on meringue topping (somewhere around pg 1109 or something, I can't recall exactly. It's where I've gotten my instructions from.

              1. re: QueenB

                I've been making meringue since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. And all gazetteers to the contrary - as well as the Joy of Cooking, one of the few cookbooks I've never had an inclination to open - humidity plays a huge role in anything to do with meringues as any pastry chef worth her toque will tell you. That's the reason I'm so red in the face today trying to get all of my macaroons done on the one non-rainy day we expect between now and Passover. ;^)

                1. re: teamkitty

                  You're right...but it's only partly the humidity (that really does more to make it sticky than weepy). I do recollect that it helps to make certain the meringue is making a very firm, complete seal with the crust. And you do have to make certain it's cooked through, so it can't be too close to the flame when it's browning/

                  1. re: teamkitty

                    I understand that is the case when you are making something that requires a harder meringue, such as a macaroon, or meringue cookie, or something made of meringue that gets completely dry when it's baked. However, a soft meringue topping on a pie is not the same. The humidity plays little part in the "weeping" of the soft meringue. The humidity can affect the "height" of the meringue, and cause it to deflate after it comes out of the oven, but will not cause weeping. Good luck with your cooking!

                    Oh, and by the way, kindofabigdeal, weeping can also be caused by overcooking your meringue, so make sure you don't overbake!

                    1. re: QueenB

                      oh no, now this is very confusing. I don't know if I'm baking too much or too little. Any temps? I do well with temps, but I suppose puncturing the meringue might have its own downfalls.

                      1. re: kindofabigdeal

                        If you have a thin, probe-like thermometer, you can poke it (gently!) into the side of the meringue after baking for 15 minutes at 325. You want the center of your meringue to be 160F.

                        I never worry much about it and the 15 minutes seems to work really well for me. Personally, I'd rather bake too little than too much.

              2. re: QueenB

                I add a paste to mine and it still weeps. It takes a while but it weeps none the less.


              3. Try using egg whites and Marhmellow Fluff instead of sugar. My grandmother taught me this. It works brilliantly and tastes just as good!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Artie Choke

                  Wow, I'd never heard about Marshmallow Fluff and egg whites. That could work. Queen B - you are absolutely right about the seal being important. It's the same principle as the baked alaska.

                  My meringue cookies are a soft meringue as well. And they are not pleased with the 5% rise in humidity this evening. They came out beautifully, but have gotten stickier with the rise in humidity and impending rain.

                  1. re: Artie Choke

                    How very interesting. I shall give it a try.

                    Do you sub "Fluff" one to one with the sugar or is the ratio different??


                    1. re: Davwud

                      you could probably figure out a good substitute by making the grams of sugar equal (using the nutritional info on the fluff)