All News & Blogs
New food column seeks to answer readers' questions
By Marty Morrison
ILOVE TO COOK, but I don't pretend to be a food expert. I rely on tried-and-true recipes from cooks who are talented enough to whip up a delicious dish from a half-dozen ingredients and a heaping spoonful of creativity.
I embark on this new column with the intention of helping cooks like me, those who want to perfect their culinary know-how or find answers to food-related questions.
In searching for answers, I'm relying on experts, both local and national, who can shed light on the queries.
The first question involves baking.
Frances C. said she has the worst luck with making meringues for pies
"It will fall to almost nothing and has water between the meringue and the filling," she wrote.
I turned to three local bakers for their tips on dealing with the fluffy egg-white mixture.
Meringues can be tricky, they said, and there are several things that can cause problems.
Joan Hailstalk, owner of Simply Sweet Cake and Candy Supplies in Spotsylvania County, said that the problem may be in beating the egg whites--either under-whipping or overwhipping.
Egg whites should be beaten until they form stiff peaks, she said.
"There's a real fine line that you have to play with," she said. "Meringues can be temperamental."
Egg whites should be room temperature in order to yield more volume. They also should be without the least bit of yolk.
"You want them totally grease-free," she said. "Egg yolks contain fat, so you want completely clean egg whites."
The bowl and beaters need to be grease-free as well.
Her advice is similar to that suggested by baker Michele Howell, who operates Bountiful Harvest "Sweets and Treats" in Stafford County.
Underbeating meringue can contribute to the watery appearance known as weeping. Overbeating can cause the meringue to become dry and make it difficult to spread over the filling.
"We add a little superfine sugar after the soft peak stage to help the meringue set up and retain enough moisture to be more pliable," Howell said.
She also suggested completely covering the pie with the meringue.
"We have found that meringues spread entirely over hot or very warm fillings in a cooled crust help to set up the meringue," she said.