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What are you baking these days? April 2012 [old]

Hello April, glad you stopped by! Are you going to be as wacky as March? Please don't be Summer yet. We need some more cool weather to bake up a storm in...

I baked Rose Levy Beranbaum's lemon meringue pie last evening (using the all-butter CI crust that I especially like for its crispness -- did have to add a tb of vodka to get it to come together, however, despite weighing the ingredients and following the recipe slavishly).

The pie filling is stellar, about the best I ever made. You boil up the cornstarch, sugar, and water until thick and translucent, stir some into the egg yolks, then add the lemon juice and rind, butter, and salt. I added the butter before the juice because I had of course forgotten to take it out of the freezer until I was up to my waist in the recipe. She doesn't call for any furher cooking other than to set and brown the meringue, but I put it back on the heat just to come back to just under the boil because of egg safety nervousness.

It's an italian meringue, which means you have to futz around with bringing a sugar syrup to soft ball temp and beating it into beaten egg whites. At least in my hands it made a firmer meringue than usual and I couldn't coax it into dramatic Martha meringue swirls, so ended up with a sort of spackled effect.

Never mind the looks, here's the pie, pussycats -- divine, lemony/creamy, and the meringue marshmallowy and plush. Barely warm, mindbending, fridge cold, killer.

 
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  1. I love the sound of that lemon meringue pie, and the method is fascinating. I will definitely try it.
    I made a buttermilk batter bread from Quick Breads, and given that the whole shebang only took a little over an hour, it was excellent. Actually, whether it took longer or not, it was excellent. The plan for today is Chocolate Chip cookie bars for my son to take to his first period Chemistry class tomorrow morning as salve for having to be back in class after the 2 week spring break. I also have quite a few over-ripe bananas in the house, and will make the banana chocolate chip bundt from Great Coffee Cakes. It sounds like a nice change from banana bread.

    8 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      The Banana Chocolate Chip bundt cake from Great Coffee cakes is a nice change from banana bread. The bananas are passed through a sieve, and the recipe uses butter and cake flour giving the finished product a lighter crumb than any banana bread I have made before. It also calls for banana extract, not something I have hanging around the house, so in addition to the vanilla called for, I added a little Fior de Sicilia, an extract sold by King Arthur Flour. Now I remember why I haven't used it in a long time: my son hates the taste of it, and he thought that the cake had a weird flavor. I thought it was pretty good, but since he is the main eater of cakes of this sort in our house, I am packing it up to give to the neighbors. I would make this cake again, but I would just use the vanilla. Off to find another breakfast option to lure my son to eat something before school...

      1. re: roxlet

        Who has banana extract sitting around?? I've considered buying the Fior de Sicilia when King Arthur does their annual cheap shipping to Canada sale.. do you like it?

        1. re: rstuart

          Unlike roxlet's son, I like Fiori di Sicilia. It has a citrus-vanilla flavor, and according to KA, it is the traditional flavoring for panettone. I find it gives a je ne sais quois that people (including me) tend to like. I have used it to flavor cookies and frosting.

          http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Thanks Caitlin.. I may try it! Love both citrus and vanilla flavours...

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I just looked at the ingredients, and they use citrus oils and vanillin. Isn't that the artificial vanilla flavoring? Hmmm. Not a fan of that!

              1. re: roxlet

                CI did a taste test a few years ago that had CVS brand imitation vanilla at a high ranking. I used it in stuff for the office and whatnot and no one ever said anything.

            2. re: rstuart

              IMO Fior de Sicilia smells lovely and can add a pleasing flavor but is insanely, ridiculously strong. If you use more than a drop it can totally overpower a recipe. I feel like I should invest in a medicine dropper for doling it out.

              1. re: butterfat

                Hmmm... something to think about! Thanks Butterfat...

        2. I am trying salted peanut toffee cookies for the first time today, another recipe from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy. Dough is chilling now. I am opting for the "fat little log" cookie shape that she mentions, and they will be rolled in toffee nuts.

          Last week I tried (and really enjoyed) Martha Stewart's black bottom coconut bars, featuring a slim base layer of bittersweet brownie topped with a generous mound of chewy coconut, so basically a macaroon cookie on top of a brownie. mmmmm. Served for a crowd, and every single one disappeared. Someone assembled leftover goodies for a friend, and I heard her say to the friend, "Oh, I wish I could have brought you these coconut bars she made, but they were all gobbled up... they were sooo good." So, favorable reports!

          http://www.marthastewart.com/337367/b...

          6 Replies
          1. re: peppermint_sky

            That's nice when you hear something like that.

            1. re: peppermint_sky

              I'm glad to hear that. I bookmarked the recipe, but I saw that one poster commented that they were "flavorless." Chocolate and coconut are big flavor combinations in our house...

              1. re: roxlet

                They were great, although I wouldn't put in them in my top echelon of cookies. I bake a new recipe each week. I would make these again, and they are definitely not flavorless, although I want to try a similar bar with sweetened condensed milk in the coconut layer. Gooier.... I think I would like that even more.

                1. re: peppermint_sky

                  Oooh.. that sounds great! Let us know how your experimenting turns out!

                  1. re: peppermint_sky

                    one of my favourite bars is like that. Ribbon bars from our cottage community in the 60's. The bottom has graham crackers and marg and melted chocolate, the middle is coconut and sweetened condensed milk ( which we dye pink) and the top is a buttercream dyed green'

                2. re: peppermint_sky

                  Peppermint, glad to hear, I had also printed that recipe off and wondered how it was...

                3. There was a sale on apples at the market yesterday. Average 69 cents per pound, so I grabbed a couple pounds and made a deep dish apple pie last night just before bed.
                  It's been sitting all night, cooling on the counter. Can't wait to get home and break into that thing.

                  I also got a ton of lemons from a neighbor's tree. Thinking lemon bars...or something. Can't decide.

                  1. Almond joy macaroons. Only made 2/3 of a batch, and they're already half gone (not all by me) ... will need to make more soon!

                    1. Egg tarts. I always get them with dim sum but it never occurred to me that I could make them at home before.

                      http://www.asiadish.com/recipes/egg-t...