Sunday, February 14, 2010

Baking Science & Theory wk5


This week we learned how to make a “Foolproof Pie Dough”, “Chocolate Cream Pie”, “Lemon Meringue Pie”, and “Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar - Walnut Topping”.
 We were advised that the Foolproof Pie Dough would be much wetter than what we are used to because of the Vodka used to make the dough pliable.  That was a gross understatement!  The pie dough was wet, sticky, and a completely new experience for my whole team! But the finished product seemed to get the job done. 

The Chocolate Cream Pie was very rich, and more dense than the kinds I have sampled in the past.  The Pumpkin Pie turned out as expected. But the topping was an unexpected addition, and reminded me of something I would find on a Dutch Apple Pie. 

I focused on the Lemon Meringue Pie.  I have made several of these in the past, but from a store mix. This was a wonderful experience for me.  The flavors were aromatic and robust, and the finished product was delectable.  The filling thickened well on the stove, but seemed to thin as it came to rest while waiting for the pie shells to bake. Our instructor indicated we needed the mixture to come to a boil on the stove, to allow the starches to release to their full potential. This greatly affected our finished product. 

Our Meringue was mixed by hand by our team.  This was a very significant experience! I have always used an electric hand mixer for this in the past.  Our first meringue was beaten until smooth and glossy, but it did not peak. This happened because the sugar was incorporated before the egg whites had been beaten to a full soft peak stage. We made a second meringue, which reached a stiff peak and was smooth and glossy. We garnished our pie with some well placed Lemon Zest Curls.

Our team was critiqued to have done a nice job on the meringue.  The chocolate pie's crust could have rolled a bit thicker and browned a touch more, but it tasted good. Also, our pumpkin pie was pronounced to be fine.
Overall, I enjoyed the pie making. However, I expect to continue to use my butter and lard pie crusts as opposed to this Vodka version.  Not only would I prefer it because I am opposed to alcohol in general, but I am more familiar with its quirks and know what to expect. Still, I appreciate the opportunity to be exposed to different recipes and techniques, and know they all have their place in the pantheon of the Pastry Chef's Pantry!

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