The Science of Lemon Meringue Pie {Crust}

Lemon meringue pie is a favorite of mine- second only to chocolate- and my parents love the tart yellow fruit in various baked goods (I’ve made Lemon Loaf Cake for mom and Blackberry Lemon Cupcakes for dad). There’s something about the bright, sour taste that draws us in. It also smells delicious and clean, without being sterile. I wanted to dive into the world of lemon through a food science lens.

I’ve been working as an Associate Scientist for a year now. My passion is still in product development, which I’ve been able to focus on for the past five months. Food science is still a strange word, and negative associations abound (what are you doing to my food??), but it’s ultimately about understanding food ingredients and how they interact with each other and the environment.

To introduce the common hobby baker to some of the science behind traditional recipes, I’m starting a new series about ingredient interaction and troubleshooting tips along the way. What better place to start than the simple-seeming, overly-complicated lemon meringue pie? This is the first in a series of 3 posts, one for each component of the pie.
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Berry Lemon Cheesecake Tart

Berry Lemon Cheesecake Tart- a quick pastry that comes together in minutes is the perfect way to celebrate summer!Michael and I adore lemon desserts. This one is crispy, creamy, with a subtle lemon flavor. It’s been officially declared a WINNER! It’s best eaten the day it’s made, but you can make the filling and crust separately and assemble whenever you want. Berry Lemon Cheesecake Tart- a quick pastry that comes together in minutes is the perfect way to celebrate summer!I made it for the 4th of July, but it’s perfect anytime during the year! It’s bright, sweet, and tart, filled with citrus notes and cream cheese flavor. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to assemble! Continue reading “Berry Lemon Cheesecake Tart”

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Honey Lemon Mini Tarts

 Honey Lemon Mini Tarts- an easy, lemon filling with just 3 ingredients, inside a crunchy shell!
This was the coolest experience ever, and I have Iowa State to thank for it. One of the ladies from the Ames Farmers’ Market emailed all the students in the FSHN (Food Science & Human Nutrition) department and asked if anyone would like to volunteer to do a cooking demo at the market. I said yes, not sure of what that even meant.
Cooking Demo
I was also unsure of how to make a dessert with only an induction burner (which I had to google to know what that even was; apparently it’s a portable stovetop). I bake almost everything in the oven! My one and only idea was mini tart using already-prepared shells.

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Chocolate Strawberry Tart

My sister is very honest. When you bake and share it with people, you need some honest feedback (you need lots of compliments too, which is why I love my enthusiastic husband and parents, and aunts!). She suggested some changes to this tart in the flavor department, mostly to make it sweeter. I agreed with her, so I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect this. This is how I’ll be making this tart from now on! The tart dough is sweet and tastes like mild sugar cookies. The hidden layer of ganache adds some depth, and the fresh strawberries give you some juiciness and color appeal!

Chocolate Strawberry Tart

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Fruit Tart with Vanilla Custard

Fruit Tart

After my mom told me that my dad had drank all their cream with his cereal (he has a high metabolism, luckily), I tried this recipe out with no cream and fewer egg yolks. It turned out perfectly, so consider it a lower-fat version! It still tasted exactly the same, too. The crust is soft, tender, melts in your mouth and yet is strong enough to hold up the smooth, creamy custard filling that tastes like the best vanilla pudding in the world. Top it off with any kind of fruit you want, though I prefer berries for their color and tartness.

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