Good morning lovelies! We've got a fun baking post for yall today from Erin Knightley which was inspired by her heroine Jane, who is a baker (love!) in her newest release A Taste for Scandal (loved even more!)!!
Please join me in giving Erin a warm welcome to the blog! And don't forget to check out the giveaways down at the bottom :) One is linked over to Erin's Blog where she's giving away 36 SIGNED books by a ton of different authors :)
“Close your eyes, concentrate on the beauty of your creation. The tart lemon and the creamy meringue. The buttery crust and the unexpected infusion of . . . well, I don’t know what that other flavor is, but it is delicious.”
Jane sighed heavily, gave Richard another sarcastic look, then closed her eyes. She slowed her chewing, deciding not to waste the opportunity, and to do exactly as he suggested. She had to admit, it did seem to make the flavors that much more distinct. Of course, it also served to intensify her sensitivity to him. The flavors playing over her tongue blended with the smell of his skin, sending an unexpected ribbon of pleasure through her body.
At last she finished and allowed her eyes to flutter open. She gasped, the words poised on the tip of her tongue promptly fleeing when she realized how close he was. He was leaning toward her, regarding her intently. No longer teasing, his eyes seemed to darken to the color of twilight as he watched her.
~A Taste for Scandal
Sounds good, doesn’t it? No, not the man – the pie.
When I was first writing A TASTE FOR SCANDAL, with its baker heroine Jane and her hero, the Earl of Raleigh, I just knew that at some point, she would bake something that evoked the essence of the earl. This pie, which earned the dubious moniker of Lunatic’s Delight (I swear that will make sense when you read the book, lol), sprang from nowhere and had me drooling even as I wrote it.
In theory, it sounded delicious: lemon meringue pie laced with rhubarb – the perfect marriage of tart, sweet, and tangy.
In reality, I hadn’t a clue if such a thing would work. So one day, as I came across a package of fresh, perfectly pink rhubarb at the market, I decided to give it a try. Great idea, right?
But here’s the thing. I had never actually had rhubarb. All I knew was that it was frequently used in pies, so I assumed it’d be sweet and tangy. What I didn’t expect was for the fresh rhubarb to smell awful. Like celery—which I hate—dressed in blushing sheep’s clothing. With doubt rearing its celery-scented head, I kept chopping, hoping I wasn’t about to ruin a perfectly lovely lemon pie. Taking a deep breath, I took the plunge and tossed the icky pink stalks into the lemon filling. As I stirred, the yellow mixture blushed like the first hints of a summer sunset.
Well, if it had to suck, at least it would look pretty.
After topping with some fluffy white meringue, the whole thing went into the oven. I paced nervously, hardly able to wait to see how it would all turn out. It was like a small part of my imagination—my books—come to life, right in my kitchen. I was making the very thing my heroine had invented, a recipe that was meant to capture the essence of her hero. If it was terrible, for some reason I was afraid it would ruin the magic of their chemistry. What if I didn’t know them at all?
When the peaks were gently golden, I slid the pie from the oven and set it out to cool. It actually smelled quite nice. It was a good sign, but I still had to wait for the pie to first cool, then chill in the fridge.
At long last, dinner had been cleared away and the moment of truth was upon me. I pulled my creation from the fridge, cut a slice, and sat down to my plate with fork in hand. The tines glided through the creamy filling as I gathered my first forkful, took a bracing breath, and popped it in my mouth.
It was absolutely delicious. The rich, tangy filling was like cool silk against my tongue, the tart flavor cut by the sweet, cloud-like meringue. The crust was beyond perfect, buttery, flaky, and just the tad bit sweet. I would have never known that the hint of rouge in the pie was actually rhubarb—it only added an unexpected…something. I don’t know what, just a suggestion of something adventurous.
Exactly as my heroine had wanted :)
Here it is, my Lemon Blush Pie!
Lemon Blush Pie Recipe
Crust (yes, you can use pre-made or follow the below):
1 cup and 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold shortening (I refrigerated mine for an hour)
1 tsp sugar
3 – 5 tbsp ice water
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt, mix.
- Add shortening, and cut into flour using a pastry knife or two regular knives until mixture resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs.
- Add water a little at a time, stirring with a fork until mixture clings together.
- Taking care not to over mix, shape into 1 inch thick disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Roll out dough on floured surface and fit into 9 inch pie pan.
- Crimp edges, poke holes in the bottom with a fork, and place in over for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack,
5 tbsp cornstarch
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract or 1 tbsp lemon zest
4 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
3/4 cup rhubarb, finely chopped or food processed.
1 tbsp butter
- Whisk cornstarch, sugar, and water together in a medium saucepan.
- Add the lemon juice, extract/zest, yolks and rhubarb.
- Cook while stirring constantly until mixture begins to bubble and thicken.
- Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
- Either place directly in crust, or strain to remove fibers/zest (I didn’t strain).
4 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
- Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees.
- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Slowly trickle in sugar until completely mixed.
- Beat until the mixture is glossy with firm peaks.
- Spread over filling, covering completely.
- Lift spatula to create peaks.
- Bake until meringue is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
- Cool on rack, then chill in fridge.
Despite being an avid reader and closet writer her whole life, Erin Knightley decided to pursue a sensible career in science. It was only after earning her B.S. and working in the field for years that she realized doing the sensible thing wasn't any fun at all. Following her dreams, Erin left her practical side behind and now spends her days writing. Together with her tall, dark, and handsome husband and their three spoiled mutts, she is living her own Happily Ever After in North Carolina.
I’d like to give a big thanks to Anna for inviting me to join Herding Cats and Burning Soup today :) With all the yummy baking going on in my book, I’d say we’re a match made in heaven!