Thursday, January 14, 2010

When Life Gives You Meyer Lemons: Shaker Lemon Pie

I really like lemon desserts. I also really like uncommon pie recipes. As soon as I saw Shaker Lemon Pie on Smitten Kitchen, I knew I would make it. As soon as Meyer lemons were in season. Unfortunately, I had JUST missed the season, so that was almost a year ago.

Meyer lemons are special (I guess). Before getting into pie baking I had only heard of them once, while watching Giada on Everyday Italian. Supposedly they are sweeter, less acidic and the skin is more eatable then normal lemons. And if you don't have your own tree, there is a fairly small window to use them. (You should still be able to find some now. I saw them at Trader Joe's this very day.)

A few things to note about this pie:

#1 It takes 2 days to make. But sometimes thats not all bad, a somewhat smaller time commitment each day.

#2 You want to slice the lemons as thin as possible. I bought a mandolin slicer just for this pie. It was also the cheapest mandolin slicer I could find at Target (think under $10) and while I'm sure I will find other uses for it it was completely incapable of slicing zested lemons, thinly or otherwise. So, my point is if you want to use a mandolin slicer for this and don't have one, get a decent one.

#3 Yes, the recipe means for you to use the WHOLE lemon- peel, rind, fruit,zest- all of it.


Day 1:

2 Large Meyer Lemons, zested and thinly sliced

2 cups Sugar

¼ tsp Salt

Day 2:

4 Eggs

4 Tbsp Butter melted

3 Tbsp flour

Double 9” crust

1 Egg White


Day 1:

Combine sliced lemons, zest, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for ~24 hours. (Vocabulary word: you are macerating* the lemons).

It looked like this right after mixing...

and like this after about a day

Beats eggs. Add melted butter (don't add it hot) and flour, beat to combine.

Mix and combine thoroughly with the macerated lemon mixture.

Roll out bottom crust. Fit to 9” pie pan. Cover with foil and weight down. Bake for 10-15min at 375°.

While bottom crust is baking, roll out top crust so you can assemble pie quickly when it is done.

Remove from oven and take out foil and weights, the crust will not be brown on the inside but just starting to bake. (I call this my half-par bake method.)

Raise oven temperature to 425°.

Meanwhile, add filling to bottom crust. Lay top crust over filling and press to seal with bottom crust.

Make several 1/2” venting slits in the top crust. I like to make mine with tiny cookie cutters. Cut them out before you place the top crust over filling, then put the cut-out insides back into their cut-out shapes.

Beat egg white until frothy and brush over the top crust.

Bake at 425° for 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° and continue baking an additional 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden.

The pie came out beautifully. I have never egg washed my crust before (it always seemed like a lot of work for something that doesn't actually make he pie taste better) and I loved the pretty golden color it produced.

Deb of smitten kitchen also warned that the rinds may be a bit bitter, but she called it part of this pies charm. I personally found it to be more then a BIT bitter. To be fair, some of the people who ate this pie really liked that.

I did not. And again, to be fair, I tend to have a greater aversion to bitter tasting things then most people, so I probably should have thought about that in the first place.

What I did like was the flavor I got when I took a bite with little to no bitter rind in it. The fruit portion of the lemon came out tasting delicious, so I wanted to enhance that.

Luckily, it wasn't long before I had the opportunity. I made this pie again for Christmas Eve dinner. I zested and sliced the lemon like before. Then I peeled the lemon slices and left the peel out.

There was still some rind to it, so there was still some bitterness. But a much more acceptable level for me. Probably a good compromise for people who do and do not appreciate the bitterness.

* mac·er·ate (ms-rt)

v. mac·er·at·ed, mac·er·at·ing, mac·er·ates
1. To make soft by soaking or steeping in a liquid.
2. To separate into constituents by soaking.
3. To cause to become lean, usually by starvation; emaciate.

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