When my husband and I travel, we especially like talking to strangers. Local people always have favorite eateries, treasured small museums and other worthwhile sights that are not listed in typical travel directories.
Talking to strangers has filtered into my life in Olympia. This often turns to foodie chat. A few weeks ago, I met Spencer St. Clair and that’s just what happened. When the conversation turned to favorite family recipes, my lucky angel was looking out for me. I described a dessert my mom used to make. The recipe wasn’t in her collection after she passed away and I have yearned for it over the years.
It was based on a classic meringue dessert called Schaum Tortes. Since meeting Spencer and thinking about the recipe he gave me, I have been asking people of various ages about Schaum Tortes. I haven’t found a single person who has ever heard of them. Yet, my mom made them frequently. This was back in the days before boxed pudding mix. Schaum Tortes require lots of egg whites which were left over when my mom made pudding with the yolks.
A Schaum Torte is a simple baked meringue shell. We put pudding or chocolate ice cream in the baked shells. However, at the uncountable number of potlucks our family attended, my mom wanted something more glamorous. That’s where Spencer’s recipe for Lemon Angel Pie comes in.
I made it for the first time for a Zonta club meeting. If the ladies in attendance hadn’t been so sophisticated, I believe the dish would have been licked clean. I highly recommend this easy recipe for the next time you want to knock the socks off the other potluck or dinner guests.
Karyn Lindberg has called Olympia home since 1988. She is passionate about cooking and entertaining. She believes good recipes are meant to be shared.
Lemon Angel Pie
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Sugar, in portions of 1 cup, plus 2/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons
Zest of one large lemon, plus 1/3 cup of the juice
Pinch of salt
Butter and flour for pan preparation
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
It’s a good idea to set out four large eggs a few hours ahead of your planned preparation time. Warm egg whites whip better than cold ones. This is one time when Mother Nature works better than a microwave.
Separate the whites and yolks and set aside the yolks for the lemon filling. Whip the egg whites until they are frothy. Add a teaspoonof white vinegar (or cream of tartar) and a pinch of salt. Continue whipping until the whites are stiff. Then begin adding a cup of sugar, twotablespoons at a time and continue beating until very stiff points remain standing without the tips bending over.
Spencer’s recipe calls for using a pie pan, preferably glass. I chose an oval Pyrex baker with only a little more volume than a pie pan.
I found a source for local fresh eggs and they are wonderful, but pretty small. I used six eggs and this made a big bowl of meringue. There was plenty to fill up the dish and enough left over for a 10-ounce custard cup. This recipe, in other words, is flexible.
Whatever baking dish you use, butter very generously and then coat with flour, tapping out the excess. It’s the only flour in this recipe so it has only a tiny amount of gluten.
Spread the meringue around, pushing up to make the edges thicker. Bake at 275 degrees for 75 minutes. It will just be turning golden brown when it’s done. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the lemon filling. Zest one lemon with your Microplane to make about two teaspoons. Then juice the lemon andmeasure out one-third cup.
Beat the remaining four egg yolks (six yolks from small eggs) until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add two-thirds cup of sugar. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix thoroughly.
Scrape the mixture into the top of a double-boiler with hot water in the bottom. Cook on the stovetop over medium-high heat for five to 10 minutes or until it has begun to thicken.
Put the top of the double boiler over a bowl of ice water. While the meringue is baking, stir the lemon filling frequently so it cools all the way through. Of course, be careful not to get any ice water in the filling.
When the meringue and lemon filling are both cool, spread the lemon over the meringue. Whip a cup of heavy cream until thick, adding two or three tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla to sweeten. Spread over the top of the dessert and refrigerate for four or five hours. Serve with pride and expect lots of compliments. A little modest blushing is optional.