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Welcome to the first Daring Baker challenge for 2008! Wow! It seems like yesterday that we were just getting ready for the holidays and it’s hard to believe that the first month of the new year is already almost over.

This month’s host is one of our longest standing members, the lovely Jen of The Canadian Baker. As those of you who follow the Daring Bakers’ exploits know, we’ve had some significant challenges in the past including croissants and bagels. I was understandably quite pleased when I saw that Jen had chosen the lemon meringue pie as the challenge for January 2008.

I’ve made lemon meringue pies many times before but I’m always happy to try a new version. Jen’s version was quite straightforward as it featured an all-butter crust, a creamy lemon curd and a very light meringue topping.

Jen gave us the option of making a large pie or smaller tartlets. I, of course, chose the tartlets because I’m always happy to try something mini.

All the separate elements of the tartlets came together very well for me. So I instead set my mind to the challenge of assembling the tartlets and decorating them.

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Once I’d baked my pastry rounds for the base, I decided to create a shell border on each one with the meringue. Not only would this be decorative, but it would help keep my lemon curd in place.

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I carefully spooned as much lemon curd as I could into the confines of each meringue border and then, using a pastry bag, I decorated the tops of the tartlets with various designs in meringue.

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Once the tartlets came out of the oven after browning the meringue, I thought they looked cute but that they needed an extra touch. During the week, I’d visited one of my favourite Toronto stores, Harvest Wagon, which just happens to sell edible flowers. I splurged and decided that the flowers would look lovely with the tartlets.

But I wanted to give them some sort of extra touch so I sugared them. If you’ve never sugared fruit or flowers, it’s very easy. All you need is a clean paint brush, an egg white and some sugar. I beat the egg white until frothy and then used the paint brush to dab egg white on the petals of the flowers. I then very gently sprinkled them with sugar and let them air dry for a couple of hours.

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Not only were the flowers a tasty and unusual treat, I thought they looked very pretty with the tartlets.

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So how did the tartlets taste? They were pretty good. While I don’t think this version of lemon meringue pie is as good as the one I like to make, it was still tasty. And best of all, working with the bright taste and scent of lemon just reminded me that spring isn’t all that far away.

Was it the most daring of challenges for me? Not really. Was it fun? You bet. And that’s what baking is supposed to be about.

Thank you to Jen for a wonderful challenge. Please take a moment to visit the other Daring Bakers to see how they did. Have a wonderful week!

Ciao!

For the lemon meringue pie recipe, please visit Jen’s site.