Things I like to bake: cookies and cakes. Things I do not like to bake: pies. I can’t explain what makes me partial to cookies and cakes more so than other recipes, but maybe it’s because I’m more familiar and therefore more comfortable with baking cookies and cakes. Or maybe it’s because I like to eat cookies and cakes much more so than other types of desserts. Place a menu with a cookie, cake and pie in front of me, and I will always choose something other than the pie.
When I think of pie, the first thing that comes to mind is my grandmother’s love of lemon meringue pie. Much to grandma’s despair, I never much cared for lemon meringue pie. (I’m sure the despair was feigned because none for me meant more for her!)
When I saw a recipe for Shaker Lemon Pie in Country Living magazine last spring, I was intrigued by the use of the entire lemon in the pie. “This might be a lemon pie I could get on board with,” I thought to myself. When I learned the pie had Ohio roots, I was sold.
Growing up in northwest Ohio, I had never before heard of southwestern Ohio’s Shaker Lemon Pie. From what I understand, the Shakers (who practiced a religion similar to that of the Quakers’, which leads me straight down the path to a Shake and Bake/Quake comment) settled in southwest Ohio in the early 1800s. Lemons were fairly easy to come by as they were shipped up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, then over to Cincinnati via way of the Ohio River. The Shakers were a frugal bunch who wasted as little as possible, hence they used entire lemons in their pies. (Lemon Pie is a Slice of Ohio History by Lisa Abraham of The Akron Beacon Journal).
It took me so long to try baking this pie because I was dreading making the pie crust. It wasn’t until I found a recipe for Fifty Eight Cent Pie Crust (that did not require the use of a rolling pin!), that I was ready to take a shot at the recipe.
Pinching the dough together in the pie pan was going along just great until I realized I also had to top the pie with a crust. There was no way to take the crumbly dough I was pinching together and form it into a smooth blanket of dough for the top of the pie. I remembered seeing circles of pie crust layered onto the top of a pie in the past (perhaps from a Food Network episode of Down Home with the Neelys), so that’s what I did here. I pinched the dough together on a floured work surface, then used a round cookie cutter to create a circle of dough to place on the pie.
Please note – in addition to two pie crusts, the recipe takes two days to complete as the lemons must macerate in the sugar overnight. It is also very important for the lemons to be sliced as thin as possible. If you own a mandolin, now is the time to use it. I do not own a mandolin and was able to slice my lemons thin enough, but keep in mind, the thicker the rind, the chewier the pie. In this case, chewy pie is not a good thing.
After all was baked and done, the pie was just the right mix of sweet and tart. It was a great first pie!
- For one pie crust:
- 1½ cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- For the pie filling:
- 2 lemons, sliced paper thin
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 eggs
- To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
- Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- Stir together the milk and vegetable oil.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Mix just enough to moisten the ingredients, then place into a pie pan.
- Press the dough into place and set aside.
- To make the pie filling: place the lemons and sugar in a bowl and allow to sit overnight.
- The following day, lightly beat the eggs and add them to the lemon and sugar mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
- Make a second pie crust and place over the top of the pie filling.
- Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour. The crust should be browned and the filling should be set.