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It all started out very innocently, but over time this pie has developed quite a following.

The original recipe caught my eye as I was skimming an old cookbook. I brought the recipe up to date and was happily stunned with the result, especially as I am much better at cooking than at baking. A few years later, the subject of baking came up with a kitchen design customer of mine, and I mentioned the recipe. The customer just had to have it. We had already developed a great working relationship so I thought nothing of printing out the recipe for her. Little did I know the reason why she'd asked me for it was that her matriarch-in-law absolutely loved lemons, and was coming cross country for Thanksgiving. And so, this gal made my recipe for the first time, for Thanksgiving dessert! (When I heard this, I nearly fainted.) Thankfully, the pie was a complete hit. The matriarch-in-law (so I was told) gushed about how it reminded her of the pies of her childhood. She flew back home with a copy of the recipe in hand - one of the bigger compliments I've had to date.

Yesterday, again for Thanksgiving, I made this pie. This time it was for my in-laws, and once more it was a huge hit. I hope you like it too. It is nothing like a traditional lemon pie... or perhaps, better said, THIS is the traditional lemon pie, and those meringue things are just poor imitations. This pie has all the lemony tang you might desire, balanced by just enough sweetness, and better yet, you don't have to fool around with whipping up a bunch of egg whites. It's incredibly easy to make, too; if you have any knife skills at all you should be able to get this into the oven in ten minutes flat. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups (~0.4 liter) sugar (preferably demerara or raw sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons (~30 ml) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (~1.3 ml) salt
  • 1/4 cup (~60 ml) butter; softened
  • 3 eggs; well beaten
  • one egg white, beaten lightly
  • 1/3 cup (~80 ml) water
  • fresh zest of one lemon
  • 2 to 3 lemons peeled (see below) and sliced thin, removing seeds as you go
  • the juice leftover from lemon slicing
  • a speck of cayenne pepper
  • 2 unbaked crusts for a pieshell; bought or homemade
  • extra sugar for sprinkling

Method

Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).

First off you want to zest one lemon, then slice up it and the other(s). As for zesting a lemon: You have a microplane, right? If you don't, you should go right out and buy one, as it will be one of the better $20 you've ever spent. In the meantime, though, a veggie peeler will suffice to skin a lemon, but after making the peels, mince them up very well with a sharp knife.

To cut the lemons:

  1. If you have any open cuts, now is the time to cover them. If you know what supreming a lemon means, peel it for that, then cut in cartwheels, removing seeds as you go.
  2. If you don't know supreming is, do this:
    • Get a really sharp knife.
    • Slice off the top and bottom of the lemon. You want to have the interior flesh showing, not the pith (the white stuff is the pith.)
    • Stand the lemon up on one cut end on your cutting board.
    • CAREFULLY take all the pith off with your knife, by cutting downwards. Basically you want to try to follow the curvature between the white stuff and the actual flesh of the lemon. No need to be obsessive about it, though; you can trim it up as you go.
  3. Once you've got all the pith off, turn the lemon on its side and slice it up, as narrow as you can, but again, don't worry too much about it. I aim for about 1/8 inch, or 2-3 millimeters, but 4-5 mm isn't going to make or break this operation.
  4. You may run into annoying seeds as you go. Pick these out and discard them.

Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Then add butter, eggs, water, lemon zest, and cayenne.

Lay down the bottom crust into your piepan. Lay the lemon slices onto the crust, spreading them out evenly as you can. Pour in any juices left over from the slicing, too. The lemons are going to look lonely and puny, but fear not.

Gently pour in your filling, then cover it all with the top crust. Try to tuck the edges of the top crust underneath the upward edges of the bottom edge to seal it all together, and crimp it. (I suck at this, but I haven't had a blow out yet. Just go for it!)

Remember that beaten eggwhite in the ingredients list? Here's where it comes in. Brush it well over the top crust. It will enhance browning of the crust. If you don't have a pastry brush, a bit of folded paper towel or your fingers will do, just make sure to wash up well.

Lastly, sprinkle the pie lightly with more sugar. The eggwhite should catch it and hold it in place.

Bake 45 minutes -- and stave off the temptation at the end, because it will smell heavenly! Give it a few minutes to set, then snarf at will. French vanilla ice cream on the side is optional but recommended. Yum.


Reference: Southern Living Cookbook - Desserts 1967; Library of Congress 67-30672.


XWiz says re Double crust death by lemon pie: I wish to be invited to dinner at your place.

yclept says re Double crust death by lemon pie: I think I have to try this for Xmas dessert. I always try to do something new along with the old favorites and I adore lemon.

XWiz says: It tasted beautiful when I finally cut into it. Boy, that lemon was sharp at the bottom, but it tasted fantastic. Full marks all round for Maylith!

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