Back from a far too long hiatus with a new recipe, inspired by my son.
My son, like his dad, loves watching cooking shows. And he, like his dad, loves the shows produced by the America's Test Kitchen folks. On a recent episode of Cook's Country , he saw them make a Shaker Lemon Pie, and ever since he has been begging me to try and make one.
What makes this pie unique is that you use every bit of the lemon in it, save the seeds. The Shakers, when they originally made this, would slice the lemons paper thin and then macerate them in sugar for several hours if not overnight - the longer you did it, the less bitter the pith would become. Then they would mix with the other ingredients to from the custardy pie filling. The cooks at Cooks Country discovered that at least 24 hours of maceration was required, and they wanted to speed up the process. So they came up with an ingenius solution - squeezing the juice from the lemon slices and then simmering the slices for 5 - 10 minutes. The result - removal of the bitterness without any maceration time!
Another note from the Cooks Country cooks - the addition of corn starch to the eggs is critical. It helps stabilize the eggs and prevent them from curdling in the oven.
One thing I discovered - a mandolin slicer is almost essential if you want to achieve paper thin lemon slices. If you do not own a mandolin slicer (and I don't) you can use another Cooks Country tip - place the lemons in the freezer about 30 minutes prior to slicing. This will firm them up and make it easier to slice thinly and evenly. Even doing this though, I still found it difficult to achieve consistent paper thin slices. Maybe I need to work on my knife skills!
This pie is relatively simple to make and full of lemon flavor. I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.
(The original recipe is available for free at the Cook's Country website. You need to go to the website and search for Shaker Lemon Pie, and then enter your email address to see the full recipe.)
Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Roll out half the pie dough and line the pie plate with the dough. Place the lined plate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Squeeze the lemon slices through a fine mesh strainer placed over a bowl. You should collect about 6 tbsp of lemon juice (add additional lemon juice as needed to make 6 tbsp.). Place the squeezed slices into a saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring the slices and water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the slices for 5 - 10 minutes. Discard the water.
In a large bowl combine the sugar, 4 tbsp of the lemon juice, and the softened lemon slices. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
In a separate large bowl whisk the cornstarch and the remaining lemon juice. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Slowly combine this mixture with the lemon slice mixture. Pour this mixture into the chilled pie shell.
Brush the edges of the pie shell with almond milk or other CF milk. Roll out the remaining pie dough and place it on top of the shell. Trim any excess dough and crimp the edges together to seal. Brush the top crust with almond milk. Using a paring knife, cut four vent holes into the top crust.
Bake at 425° for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° and bake an additional 20 - 25 minutes. Remove the pie to a wire rack and let it cool for at least 1 hour before serving.