Baking 101: Meringue

Meringue makes a beautiful topping for a wide variety of pies.

Classic American cold pies, such as lemon meringue, are often found at roadside diners, giving car riders a well deserved break.

You can easily make your own meringue at home, recreating many an American classic.

What you’ll need:

A large stainless steel bowl or a stand mixer

Metal whisk / whisk attachment

Ingredients:

4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature

7 tablespoons granulated sugar or superfine sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or any flavor that fits your pie)

Helpful hints:

  • Use room temperature eggs, their volume increases more and quicker than cold eggs.
  • Avoid getting any yolk, when separating them from the whites. Any fat can break down the meringue.
  • Do not add the sugar before you have whipped the egg whites.
  • Make sure all utensils are dry and clean. Meringues react negatively to any moisture.
  • Always make your meringue before your pie filling, that when when you place the meringue on top of the hot filling, some of the bottom will cook, keeping it billowy and less likely to leak.
  • Pies with meringue are best eaten the day made or store in the fridge under plastic wrap if keeping.

How to: (shown above)

  1. In a large metal bowl, beat the egg whites.  (They’ll start out sorta foamy, but patience is the key. What you’re doing is breaking down the proteins and making air bubbles.)
  2. When stiff peaks begin to form, add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. (The sugar has two purposes, first it sweetens the meringue, secondly, it acts as a stiffener, holding the meringue together.) Mix in the vanilla once all the sugar has been added.
  3. The mixture will be thick, glossy, and stand in stiff peaks. Spread the meringe on your pie, when ready.
  4. To brown the meringue, place the pie in the oven for a few minutes until lightly browned.

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