Tag Archives: Bavarian cream

MEYER LEMON BAVARIAN CREAM PIE

The local farmers’ market has just gotten going seriously for the season. A couple of weeks ago there were only a few stands with limited choices. Now there are several rows of canopies and lots of choices. There are spring vegetables: asparagus, green peas, leaf lettuce, and radishes. The big stars, though, continue to be citrus of all sorts. There are fruits that are seldom seen outside of Southern California. Pomelos as big as grapefruits! (That’s supposed to be a joke. Pomelos are often bigger than grapefruits, and on top of that they are thick-skinned close relatives.), blood oranges, many varieties of clementines, and my favorite – Meyer lemons.

The Meyer lemon was originally found in China and thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.  It was brought to California and popularized by a guy named – you guessed it –  Meyer. When Meyer lemons were found to be symptomless carriers of a virus that destroyed other citrus trees, the lemon trees were chopped down wholesale, not to be grown again until a virus-free strain was discovered. Now they are widely available.

Meyer lemons are beautiful. They are larger than other lemons with a dark yellow-orange skin and a beautiful fragrance. They are sweeter than the usual lemon, but they are still more sour than an orange. They are juicy and usually contain a number of seeds, so they really lend themselves to cooking with the juice and/or zest.

What could be a better use than in a Bavarian cream? Bavarian cream is a classic dessert. Julia Child devotes pages to its many variations. At the same time, Bavarian cream is really just another classic – crème Anglaise – doctored up with flavoring, meringue, and whipped cream all stabilized with gelatin. One more step is to put the Bavarian cream into something to hold it. Charlottes lined with lady fingers are common, but a pie shell works just as well and is a lot easier.

So, that’s what I wound up doing with the beautiful Meyer lemons I found at the farmers’ market.

RECIPE

Meyer Lemon Bavarian Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared 9 inch pie shell (purchased or use your favorite recipe) in a glass pie pan
  • 2 ripe Meyer lemons, juiced and zested
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 envelope (¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream

Method

  1. Bake the pie shell according to instructions and set aside.
  2. Juice and zest the Meyer lemons, straining and reserving ½ cup of the juice. Set aside the measured juice and zest.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup sugar and egg yolks until well combined.
  4. In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until it comes to a simmer. Gradually pour the heated milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan over low heat.
  5. Stirring frequently to avoid curdling of the bottom, heat the mixture gradually over low heat until it thickens enough to coat the spoon. Check frequently with a thermometer to avoid exceeding 170°F. The yolks will curdle at a higher temperature, and you will have to start over.
  6. Meanwhile, pour the reserved lemon juice into a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let the gelatin bloom for at least 5 minutes. Pour the hot, thickened egg mixture over the gelatin and lemon juice. Stir for several minutes to make sure the gelatin is dissolved.
  7. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Stir constantly until the mixture is cool. Then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into another bowl. Stir in the reserved lemon zest.
  8. Beat the egg whites with a rotary mixer until they form stiff peaks. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until the sugar is completely incorporated. Fold, by thirds, into the custard mixture. Folding gently, making sure the meringue is completely incorporated.
  9. Whip the cream into soft peaks. Fold in, making sure the mixture is completely combined.
  10. Pour the completed custard into the reserved pie shell. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  11. Serve plain – or better – with whipped cream.

Cook’s Notes

  • The unflavored gelatin is a key part of the recipe: not enough and the Bavarian will not set while too much and it will be rubbery; not properly bloomed and it will never completely dissolve; if it is not completely stirred in, the cream may separate. Gelatin comes in several forms. The most common is granular, packaged in small packets, but there are also liquid as well as sheets that are used by professional bakers. I don’t know what equivalents might be.
  • Be patient! Don’t try to rush the custard with high heat. You will end up with scrambled eggs.
  • It is very important to strain the thickened custard mixture. No matter how careful you are, there will be bits of curdled yolk that will take away from the smoothness of the finished custard.
  • Obviously, stir in the zest after you strain the custard.
  • You can add a little liqueur if you like. Limon cello is the obvious choice – 1 or 2 tablespoons.
  • You shouldn’t try to rush the chilling; otherwise the Bavarian might not set up properly. Overnight is best; four full hours might work in a pinch.
  • The need for bowls and saucepans is intensive. You should definitely set up mis en place for your ingredients and plot out a strategy for cookware. A scanning thermometer is very handy.

 

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MEYER LEMON BAVARIAN CREAM PIE

I saved three of my farmers market Meyer lemons to make something sweet. I didn’t want to make lemon curd or a regular lemon chess pie, as those seem to be what most folks make. Instead, I decided to make a Bavarian cream and turn it into a pie, with a few modifications of Julia Child’s recipe in volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The Bavarian cream uses crème anglaise as the base so it takes a bit of effort.

I thought the pie turned out pretty well. The test of that was my wife, the Dessert Queen, who had a piece for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – with an occasional bedtime snack – until it was gone. The pie is not something you want to try in the afternoon before a dinner party. The good news is that it is so rich that it can easily serve 16 people.

RECIPES

Almond Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • butter to grease the cake pan and foil liner
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lard
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Method

  1. Prepare an 8-inch  false-bottom cake pan by buttering the inside generously. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, salt, and sugar.
  3. With a pastry blender, cut in the lard until the mixture has the consistency of coarse corn meal
  4. Add the almond extract and ice water. With a dinner fork, blend until the mixture comes together. With your hands, gather up any loose crumbs and form a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the chilled dough in half. Because of the almond flour the dough may be slightly sticky, so work on a floured surface. Work quickly, rolling out the dough into a circle that is large enough to line the prepared cake pan. Save the remaining half of the dough for another pie.
  6. Line the buttered cake pan with the rolled dough, pressing it firmly against the sides and bottom of the pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. With a paring knife, trim the top of the pie shell, tucking in edges and forming a decorative edge with the back of the knife. Then press a well-buttered sheet of aluminum foil against the dough, and fill the foil liner with pie weights or beans.
  7. Bake the pie shell in the middle of an oven for 10 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven. Remove the foil and beans. Prick the bottom and sides again with a fork, and return to the oven for 4 minutes or when the pie shell has begun to brown lightly. Remove from the oven, and set aside until you are ready to fill with the Bavarian cream.

Meyer Lemon Bavarian Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 large Meyer lemons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Limoncello liqueur

Method

  1. The night before you plan to make the pie, wash and dry the lemons. Nestle them in a bowl containing the sugar and cover tightly. The lemons will perfume the sugar, but their moisture will also make it rock-hard, so you will need to break it up with a sharp knife.
  2. Zest all three lemons with a micro plane, and set aside.
  3. Juice the lemons. Strain the juice into a measuring cup. You should have about ¾ cup juice.
  4. Sprinkle the gelatin onto the juice and stir lightly so that the gelatin can bloom for 5 minutes or so.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Beat in the cornstarch.
  6. In the meantime, bring the milk to the boil in a non-reactive 4-quart saucepan. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, beating constantly. When the milk has been completely added, return the mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, being careful to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thickened and coats the spoon. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture does not exceed 170°F, otherwise the eggs will scramble and you will have to start over.
  7. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the lemon juice-gelatin mixture. Stir vigorously to make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved. Rinse out the mixing bowl and return the cooked custard to the bowl. Stir in the lime zest.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar, and then fold gently into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator. As the mixture thickens, stir occasionally to prevent separation.
  9. When the custard has nearly set, beat the whipping cream until well-thickened. Stir the whipped cream and liqueur into the custard.
  10. Fill the prepared pie shell with the custard. Return to the refrigerator and chill overnight or until set.
  11. Unmold the pie by loosening the edges of the false bottom and placing the pan on a small bowl so that the rim falls away. This may require a little encouragement. With a large spatula, remove the false bottom and transfer the pie to a serving plate.  Serve.

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