Project Food Blog 2010: A Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie

The first cooking I ever did was baking. My Mom encouraged me pretty early on to bake with her in the kitchen, either to whip up a simple weeknight dessert or to spend a couple hours preparing a more elaborate treat when we were hosting a party. I remember how much I loved going through her recipe binder, filled with handwritten recipes or clips from old newspapers and magazines  – all marked with the date she first tried the recipe along with a short appreciative comment like “TB!” (Très bon! – Very good!). Sometimes she would note substitutions or the exact occasion for which the dessert was baked, such as a birthday or a family reunion. I felt a particular love for the very old clips, those dating from my very early childhood or even before I was born; the paper had turned yellow and fragile, and smelled like antique books stored in a dusty attic. In a way, her recipe binders were like keepsake albums – flipping through them, I could easily trace the sweets we ate over the years.

At some point, she simply gave me the responsibility to make desserts. I was more than happy to do so, and brownies with chocolate chips (and chocolate frosting, for special occasions) and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting were some of my favorites. I also loved to make lemon pies – except I would always bake them from a store-bought mix. The ads for the company that made the mix were very popular at the time. It was simple to make, but I thought the result was so rewarding: the crust crunchy and buttery, the lemon custard creamy and tart, and the meringue so airy and light – but just sweet enough to balance the lemon taste.
I thought each bite was a piece of heaven.

I proudly considered my lemon pies to be my addition to the family repertoire – I think I may even have clipped the recipe from the box and stored it amongst my Mom’s collection, seeing it as my signature dessert. I don’t know why it never crossed my mind to learn to make it from scratch. I think I was just happy to make such a satisfying sweet ending by myself; maybe, in my 10-year-old head, baking this pie from a box was genuine. After all, I was cracking eggs, mixing ingredients together and baking it myself, wasn’t I?

Growing older, I slowly lost my sweet tooth and started to prefer making savory dishes to desserts. I would still bake for special occasions, but by then, I knew my lemon pie wasn’t the real deal and cooking from a mix felt like cheating. Since lemon pies were not so trendy anymore, I didn’t think of making my own.

Fast-forward to last year: I’m now an accomplished cook, ready to tackle classics. I spend hours in the kitchen, always on the lookout for new recipes to try, and avidly read my food blog-heavy RSS reader every day (or try to). When one of my favorite bloggers, a very talented baker, published a recipe for a Lime Meringue Tart, I felt like I had just stumbled upon one of my Mom’s recipes – one that I absolutely had to make, right away. I love citrus fruits, and have found several ways to incorporate them into desserts over the years – but how could I have forgotten about my heavenly lemon pies for so long? Why didn’t I think of making my own from scratch before then? I was overwhelmed by childhood memories. The time had come to get over my pie mix shame and develop my own version of this 19th century classic.

Since then, I have baked many of my own lemon pies. I would even go so far as to say they are now one of my most popular desserts. I always have the ingredients to make it on hand (flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and lemons). The custard is easy to make and the meringue is a snap. It takes me 45 minutes to make, from start to finish (baking included). Still, it looks elegant, and the taste is like sunshine on a summer day.

The lemon pie recipe in my binder was printed on a bright white sheet of paper, but to me it has as much sentimental value as if I had been baking it since I was 10 years old. I have also picked up on my Mom’s habit of marking my recipes. The inscription on this one? Vraiment délicieux, comme dans le temps (Truly delicious, just like back in the day).

This post is my entry to FoodBuzz’ Project Food Blog 2010, which is a contest to discover the “Next Food Blog Star.” I didn’t think I would gather the courage to enter this competition! While I was writing this blog post (which turned out to be so close to my heart) I figured it could be the perfect entry to the first challenge, “Ready, Set, Blog!” where you define yourself as a food blogger. I find my blogging inspiration in my frequent travels and the flavors I taste while I’m away from home. But maybe, just maybe, if my Mom hadn’t managed to get me interested in cooking in the first place, I would never have become so curious about food, and I would never have discovered the deep pleasure to be found in eating, discovering and experimenting with new flavors, and tasting my way around the world.

If you liked this post, please vote for me (voting takes place between Sept 20th and 23rd). Thank you!

Want the recipe to bake this gorgeous lemon pie yourself? Look no further: A Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie, the recipe.


27 Responses to Project Food Blog 2010: A Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie

  1. This is such a wonderful submission. Memories are a pretty powerful thing. Thanks for sharing yours. I am a big lemon meringue pie fan and this looks like HEAVEN – I must try it. Everything looks perfect and your photos are incredible. I swear I can taste it from here now. You did a great job. Thank you for the posting the recipe too :)

    Loved this quote: " Vraiment délicieux, comme dans le temps (Truly delicious, just like back in the day)."

    I am definitely voting for you.
    – Butter
    (from runningonbutter)

    • Thank you so much for your comment and your vote! The results will be published in a few hours, I can't wait to know if I made it to the next challenge or not! Whatever happens, I'm really happy that I decided to enter the competition in the first place. I really hope you'll give this pie a try, it's really easy to do but so rewarding! Best of luck to you.

  2. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos and such a lovely story – another vote coming your way! I love that PFB is leading me to find awesome storytellers like you and whatever happens on PFB, I'm planning to be a regular reader. Good luck!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I'm so happy that I entered this competition, it has allowed me to meet so many other great bloggers and gave me the chance to reach new readers! I'm really happy to count you as a reader, I hope you find inspiration every time you come around.
      Your post for PFB was one of my favorites. You're so right to note that a cook's book collection tells a lot about him or herself! I personally always take notes in my books, I like them to show signs of wear & tear. It's a sign that they were inspiring and important for me as a cook! I wish you the best of luck and I hope we'll get to know each other better through our blogs.

    • Thank you for your support! The meringue was as good as it looked… the more I look at it, the more I feel like making another one! Maybe I'll do that to celebrate if I go through to the next challenge :)

  3. PFB: Go Girl! Marie, I'm 100% behind you!
    You can do it and you certainly have all it takes, no doubt!
    I can truly feel from here, although now 850km away, that food + blogging is truly what defines you.
    As your "ex" business partner, we've been working together quite close and long enough, not to mention what we've been through on a professional and personal level, to know that you have found YOUR recipe, the one that makes you beg for more ;)
    I miss working with you on a daily basis but seeing now my very good friend so happy put a smile on my face =)

    • Thank you so much for your comment Melanie! You've certainly endured my obsessive talk about food throughout the years and you've always encouraged me to further my culinary passion. You're one of the people that has always inspired me, I thank you for that!

      As for the food blogging contest, est-ce que ça te surprend que j'aie choisi une recette au citron comme première soumission? :) j'ai décidé de participer au concours par plaisir, on verra bien ce que ça va donner!

      • Vrrrrrraiment pas surprise de la tarte au citron! Je suis partie à rire quand j'ai vu la recette pour le concours :) Je pense que tu as de bonnes chances pour ce concours…
        fingers' crossed xx

  4. Wow! What a gorgeous lemon meringue pie! I love your writing. Can't wait to read more posts. Thanks for sharing such a touching story! I'm working on my first entry for Project Food Blog as we speak :) Good luck!

    • Chowgirl: Indeed this binder is a real treasure! I've made my Mom swear she would take good care of it and give it to me one day. I wouldn't want to lose it!

      Greg, Eileen, Maybelle, Zenchef, Cilantropist: THANK YOU! Your support means a lot. You can't win if you didn't try.

      Rachael (TokyoTerrace): Good luck with your post! I'm sure it'll be great, you have such a rich experience living in Japan. I can't wait to read it!

  5. One of the great things about this challenge is reading all the entries and finding like-minded and not-so-like-minded bloggers, all of whom have a wonderful story. Your post is great and so is the pie! Good luck in the challenge.

    • Joan: You're so right! I can't wait to browse through all of the submissions. I've clicked on the links participants post on Twitter but it'll be easier to view them all when voting opens on Monday. Thank you for your support, I don't know how far I'll go in the competition but at least I won't regret not getting in!

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