So I made a key lime meringue pie on Saturday....came out beautifully. Cooled it and chilled as usual. Unfortunately by Sunday, the meringue top had "deflated" for lack of a better word.
The pie tasted great and nobody else even noticed. It's just irritating to me because I've *never* messed up a meringue, whether an SMBC, a meringue cookie, or a meringue pie. The meringue (Italian style) was beautiful and fluffy in the bowl and after it was baked and then browned.
Any ideas? The only thing I can think of was that I was following a new recipe (Pie and Pastry Bible - never had a problem with any recipe in there before), and I should have let the meringue top bake longer than the time listed.
You're probably right that it wasn't baked long enough to set the meringue. I'd try it again and let it go a little longer and see if it holds up better. And you'll get another pie out of it, too!
I was thinking too that the weather might have been a part of it. if it's been as rainy there as it has been here in Virginia. Last week when it had been raining non-stop for a week my icing was doing weird stuff, so the meringue might have been affected by some weird climate thing.
Upon further research (as in I took the time to read through everything Rose has to say about meringues in the book), I found out what happened.
I used an Italian Meringue which is what is called for in the recipe. So did the sugar syrup thing, baked the bottom of the pie, added the meringue, then baked 5 minutes. The directions say put the broiler on to brown for 30 seconds to a minute...and here's where I messed up. It was actually under the broiler for 3-4 minutes so I could get a nice even browning (which incidentally looked great).
Elsewhere in teh book it warns against overbaking the Italian Meringue because it will deflate. Doh! Obviously I did not see that.
So I can either: make it with a regular meringue which will be more stable to browning but take longer to bake, OR just be very careful to NOT overbake the Italian and possibly forgo the deep browning.
Since I still have half a bottle of key lime juice I guess I need to make another...thing I'll try the more traditional longer baked meringue this time.
Instead of using the oven to brown a meringue, maybe you should go to the hardware store and get a small blow torch. Chefs use them in the kitchen all the time now, for browning meringues or creme brulees, etc.
That way you can direct the flame where you want it, brown as much as you want, and only touch the top of the meringue.