Questions & Answers - Sweating Meringue

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(1)  I am having trouble with my egg whites on my cream pies. They wilt after baking. Please tell me how to make pretty meringue. Also, how do I keep my crust from getting soggy?

(2)  I am having trouble with what someone called "sweating" between my meringue and the pie. I made a chocolate pie , put the meringue on top, cooked it, let it cool in the oven (just like I was told) and even cut the meringue with a hot knife (again like I was told) immediately after taking it out of the oven .I noticed liquid between the meringue and the pie which of course made the pie runny. Have you ever heard of this? I can't seem to find out what I am doing wrong. Please help if you can. Thank you!

(3)  How do I keep my crust from getting soggy?


Check out my articles Making Perfect Meringue and  Learn All About Eggs and How To Cook Them.

Meringues are basically egg whites and sugar. Anything made with a high percentage of sugar, always attracts moisture because sugar is hygroscopic, that is, it has a great affinity for water (the sugar attracts water from the surroundings and causes small brown beads to form). Thus, it's not the heat that causes the beading on your meringue, but humidity in the warm air, or a steaming kettle, a moist kitchen, an often, a rainy day. This is particularly noticeable on a very humid day. This is a very common problem with meringue, and is perhaps a good reason for eating meringue-topped pies soon after they're prepared!. When the meringue is out of the oven and has cooled, store it in an air-tight container.

Another important factor in making meringues is to add the sugar very slowly to the eggs whites, beating well since undissolved sugar attracts beads of moisture. Consider using superfine sugar which is finer in texture and dissolves more easily than the regular granulated form.

Also, be sure to place the meringue on the filling while it is hot. The residual heat carried by the filling cooks the base of the meringue ever so slightly, making it less prone to leaking.

How do I keep my crust from getting soggy?

There are several things you can do:

  • Bake the pie in the lower half of the oven so the pastry is exposed to more intense heat.
  • Use a glass pie plate - glass does a better job of absorbing the radiant heat of an oven, than either pottery or metal, so pastry bakes faster.
  • Some cooks pre-bake or partially bake the shell before adding the custard filling.

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