Shaker Lemon Pie

This recipe perfectly demonstrates the simplicity, wholesomeness, and ingenuity of the Shakers, who were renowned bakers and responsible for many culinary inventions, including the mechanical apple peeler, the hand-crank egg beater, and the revolving oven, still used in many bakeries today. Making the pie could not be easier. You are essentially putting all the raw ingredients for lemon curd into an unbaked pie shell and letting the heat of the oven do the work. The key to success is using a very sharp knife for slicing the whole lemons paper-thin. The result is a sweet-tart filling that is quite toothsome because of the use of the whole lemon, rind and all, which lends the filling the texture of marmalade. Don’t cut back on the sugar. It may look like a lot, but I compensate by using a tart pan, rather than a pie pan or dish, for making this pie, which balances the quantity and intensity of the filling with more crust.

Courtesy of "Tartine" by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson, Chronicle Books, 2006.

Shaker Lemon Pie

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    2 medium lemons 1 large egg yolk, for egg wash
    2 cups sugar 1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
    2 Flaky Tart Dough rounds, each 12 inches in diameter Sugar, for decorating
    4 large eggs Unsweetened softly whipped cream, for serving
    1/4 teaspoon salt


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    • 1

      Slice the lemons paper-thin, discarding the thicker stem end and any seeds. Put them in a nonreactive bowl (stainless steel or glass) and, using a spoon or your hands, toss with the sugar. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours or for up to overnight. If any seeds are still left, they will usually float to the top, where they are easily fished out. If you are using the more tender-skinned Meyer lemons, you can proceed to the next step without letting them sit, as the skins don’t need the sugar to tenderize them.

    • 2

      Use 1 pastry round to line a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, easing it into the bottom and sides and leaving a 1-inch overhang. Set aside.

    • 3

      In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and salt together until blended. Add the eggs to the lemon mixture, mixing thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the pastry-lined tart pan. The mixture will be very liquid, so you must evenly distribute the lemon pieces in the pan.

    • 4

      To make the egg wash, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Brush the rim of the pastry with the egg wash to help the top pastry round adhere. Lay the second pastry round over the filling and trim the overhang for both rounds to 1/4 inch. Crimp the edge as you would for a pie, making sure you have a good seal. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top. Chill for about 30 minutes. (I chill this assembled pie, as I do nearly all pies and tarts, to firm up the pockets of butter in the dough, so that when the pie is put into the oven, the butter pockets will melt, creating the flaky texture you want in your finished dough.)  While the pie is chilling, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

    • 5

      Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cut a few decorative slits in the top of the pie for air vents, and place the tart pan on the lined baking sheet. Bake the pie until it is deep gold on top and the filling is bubbling (visible through the vents), about 40 minutes. If the top is coloring too quickly, place a piece of foil or parchment loosely over the top. Let the pie cool completely before slicing to allow the filling to set properly. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed (though the pie needs to cool completely for the filling to set up, it can be warmed up a little in the oven before serving). The pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


    Chill the lemons well before slicing. They firm up when cold, making them easier to slice paper-thin. Also, if you start by making one lengthwise horizontal cut, you will have a flat surface that allows you to slice the lemon more safely and evenly. Make sure you don’t use an aluminum bowl for the lemons. The lemons will react with the metal, giving the filling a metallic flavor.

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