It’s the Saturday before Easter and it felt like a good time for an Easter-y dessert. This recipe calls for six tablespoons of lemon curd, which meant that if I made a full recipe of lemon curd (or a full recipe and a half), I could also make a lemon meringue pie.
Granted, I have far fewer people to share with this Easter, but leftovers are always an option, right?
I won’t bore you with the details of the lemon curd since I’ve already done that.
The only thing you need to know this time is that, once again, I thought I messed it up because I stirred that nonsense for about half an hour with nary a result. Like I said, I did 1.5 times the recipe so I thought maybe I used too much lemon juice or somehow got the fractions wrong. Nope, it eventually worked out—after I boiled off all the water and had to refill the pot.
I’ve only made choux pastry once before, but it’s been a while and I was a little worried about the timing of it all. It seems like such a fancy pastry, but in reality it’s quite simple.
It starts with butter and water.
Then I put that on a low heat to slowly bring to a boil.
Once boiling, I was to dump in the flour quite suddenly and take it off the heat to “stir vigorously to make a smooth paste.”
Then I put it back on the heat briefly to dry it out a bit before gradually adding the eggs.
For choux pastry, you’re supposed to beat it really well to make it smooth and glossy but that got a little tricky to do by hand. I previously thought I had carpal tunnel but a doctor recently informed me it was more likely to be tendonitis. The pain can be managed but too much hard work can cause a kerfuffle (that I’d rather avoid) and after stirring that lemon curd for half an hour, I was already starting to feel it. I didn’t want to overdo it so I quickly whipped out the electric mixer.
It made much better work of it than I could have done on my own.
I scooped it into a piping bag and piped out as many as was possible. The recipe calls for a 1 cm plain tube, but I only had 1/2 cm piping tips and they seemed far too small, so I went with no tip and just used the bag itself.
They don’t look too shabby. The last time I did it, I panicked about dragging the pastry dough around, but this time I managed just fine. (I’m slowly learning the art of piping!)
After 10 minutes at a high temperature and then 20 minutes slightly cooler, they looked like how they should look.
I quickly sliced them in half so they’d cool open, as directed.
Tomorrow I’ll finish it off with the filling and icing.
Although I should confess now that I’m not doing the full recipe. Mary wants me to make half of them as lemon curd with whipped cream and half whipped cream with a touch of freeze-dried raspberry powder. I didn’t feel like searching stores to make six raspberry éclairs, so I’m doing all of them as lemon.
I also won’t be decorating them with white chocolate or dark chocolate or whichever the recipe says to pair with lemon and raspberry. Too much work! I’ll do a lemon icing for the top of them, but that’s it.
Now, time to make a gluten-free graham cracker crust that can chill in the fridge overnight and wait to be filled.
*the next day*
In order to properly prepare both a lemon meringue pie and lemon éclairs, I packed up the gluten-free graham cracker pie crust, empty choux pastry éclairs, lemon curd, whipping cream, icing sugar and egg whites and drove to my mom’s house.
On my right, I popped the equivalent of 5 egg whites into her KitchenAid with some cream of tartar and got it mixing.
On my left, I pulled out her electric mixer to start whipping the cream into soft peaks.
When soft peaks started forming in the egg whites, I added the sugar and salt and put it on high. Meanwhile I filled the pie crust with most of the lemon curd.
With soft peaks forming in the cream, I set that aside and stopped the KitchenAid when stiff peaks happened. (I also did the macaron test by holding the bowl upside down to see if it was ready.)
Then, using a trick, I learned a few years ago from an Instagram baker I follow (@zoebakes), I got my fingers wet and spread the meringue onto the lemon curd by hand.
Then, using Zoë François’ trick, I made peaks by pinching the meringue with my fingers.
My mom’s passed-down meringue-shaping trick is to use a spoon but I’ve tried that before and it didn’t turn out quite right. This by-hand version I learned a few years ago works much better for me.
I popped that into the oven and turned my attention back to the éclairs.
I dumped most of the whipped cream into the nearly empty lemon curd bowl and got folding. Then I was chatting with my mom while I scooped the lemon cream into a plastic bag I had put in a giant mug.
Then when I pulled said bag out of the mug, twisted the top and snipped off the corner, she said, “Oh that’s what you were doing!”
I opened up each of the éclairs, and piped a healthy portion of lemon cream down one side. Then I finished all nine and went back through to do another piped line down the other side. (I had lemon cream left and figured I may as well.)
Then I piped the rest into a small bowl and handed it to my mom with a spoon. Since she can’t eat gluten, I didn’t want her to miss out on the filling (which is really the best part of an éclair anyway).
While she had that and I licked the spatula clean, I suddenly freaked out because I had totally forgot about the pie.
You can see some more well done meringue peaks, but overall it wasn’t burnt (which was a miracle considering how long I left it in for).
Taking it out was a bit dramatic. It’s a shallower loose-bottomed tart tin so there wasn’t a lot to hold on to and oven mitts aren’t exactly made for delicate work. I out loud told myself, “Don’t drop it don’t drop it don’t drop it don’t drop it” as I took it out of the oven and placed it on the wire cooling rack my mom / baking assistant placed onto the counter for me.
Back to the éclairs.
I mixed together icing sugar and lemon juice, plus one dot of yellow food colouring and ended up with this:
I figured it was easier to pipe it into the filled éclairs rather than using a knife, so I put that in another plastic bag, snipped the end and made very ugly work of it. (I spoke too soon about my piping skills.)
These were being offered to my sister’s family as an Easter treat, so I didn’t need to worry about them being fancy because they’d be devoured so quickly.
But first I had one myself and it was delicious!
Lemon curd folded into whipped cream piped into choux pastry is light, fluffy, spring-y perfection.
I think I’ll have to make this one again.
Maybe next time I’ll brave chocolate decoration and search for freeze-dried raspberry powder to do the full recipe.
93 recipes down. 21 to go.
P.S. The lemon meringue pie was pretty good, too.