Pi Day. Pie Day. I don’t think there’s a better time to post about this Shaker Lemon Pie that we enjoyed plain and with vanilla ice cream. The pie crust (which I made with a healthy sprinkle of vodka) and the Meyer lemon custard filling were a welcome deviation from our never-ending winter of rain, as it’s always been.
It’s still Meyer lemon season and while my friends in California have had more than enough of it than all their cooking, baking, canning & preserving capacities can use up, here in Vancouver we get them mostly in pre-packaged Dandy-brand bags that remind us it’s the “The Chefs preference for desserts, beverages, main dishes and more!” I treasure every fruit because it’s not local to us. As much as I lean towards supporting local, Meyer lemons are imported treats I give myself permission to enjoy as much as I can.
I’ve made anywhere from lemon curd, lemon rolls, margarita, and putting lemon zest and juice in everything, but this Shaker Lemon Pie is the most special thing I’ve made from it this season. It makes me want winter to stay if only for the Meyer lemons.
The crust is money: flavorful, flaky and leaves you wanting more.
The lemon curd-like custard filling uses up the whole lemon (minus the seeds) and pleases the use-everything Asian in me. This pie is said to have originated from the Shaker community of Ohio, and because their lemons came from far away, they wanted to make sure they didn’t waste any part of it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Armed with a good mandoline, this shaker lemon pie can be yours, easy peasy. If you don’t have one, a little patience and a sharp knife will pull you through.
- 2 1/2 cups (or 12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 cup vodka, cold (no substitutes)
- 1/4 cup water, cold
- 1 teaspoon sugar (use for double crust pie)
- egg white of 1 large egg, beaten
And the simplest of recipes for filling:
- 2 Meyer lemons, very thinly sliced preferably with a mandoline, seeds removed (you can use regular lemons, but they will be tarter)
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- pinch of salt
- egg wash from a small amount of beaten whole egg with a few drops of water
1. Mix the thinly slices of Meyer lemons with sugar in a small bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 6 hours. Ideally you’d want to leave it for 24 hours. I did mine for 36 — heavenly.
2. Follow the instructions for the pie dough in the recipe. Preheat oven to 425°F and place a rimmed baking sheet inside. Oven rack should be in the lower third level.
3. Beat the eggs and sugar, combine with the macerated lemons. Pour into the pie plate with crust and place the other crust from the fridge on top. Flute the edges or seal with the tines of a fork. Brush the top with egg wash and don’t forget to cut vent holes with a sharp knife — whatever pattern you like.
4. Bake the pie on the rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F and bake for another 20-25 minutes (check at 20 minutes for doneness). The pie is ready when an inserted knife comes out clean.
It’s less tart and more custard-y after a day or two and it gets better after a day. Re-heat for a few minutes at 350°F.