I was watching Cook’s Country last weekend, or the one before, don’t remember, and they made Shaker Lemon Pie. I thought it was cool ’cause you use the whole lemon, peel and all. There are like only four ingredients plus a pie shell. So simple, right? Well, then they had to go and mess it up by concocting some way for you to prepare it faster. In my opinion, they ruined the whole idea of this very simple, rustic, old American recipe. Instant gratification is not necessarily a good thing.
See, you need to macerate your lemons for one whole day. Big friggin deal. You pretty much put your slices in a bowl with some sugar (details to follow) and walk away until tomorrow when it’s pie makin’ time. Is that really so damn difficult? But alas, no. The pretentious chefs at Cook’s Country (which is some sort of spin-off of America’s Test Kitchen) decided that instead you should slice the lemons, take the seeds out of them, squeeze out the juice, simmer the rinds and then strain everything so there is no pulp. This makes for a smooth, custard-like filling that only takes four hours. Well that defeats the purpose of this wonderful recipe. I think it’s much easier to slice some lemons and ignore them until tomorrow, don’t you? And besides, you are supposed to have pieces of lemon with the pulp ( but no seeds, you do get rid of those) in your pie. This is not supposed to be a diner or bakery pie. This is supposed to be like great-great grandma would make, before electric mixers and food processors and all that other fancy stuff.
These Cook’s Country people irked me because the idea of this pie was so neat and they had to muck it up, so I searched the internet and found a million recipes for it. This is their recipe for it: Cook’s Country Shaker Lemon Pie. Below is the way I do it:
You will need one pie crust, top and bottom. I agree with the Cook’s people that you can use a roll out refrigerated crust. I am, in no way at all, blessed with the ability to make a decent pie crust. Of course you should use your favorite. Next:
4 small or 2 large lemons, 2 C white sugar, 1/4 tsp salt
Zest your lemons, put the zest in a medium sized bowl. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice off the very ends of your lemons and get rid of them. Trim or peel off as much of the lemon rind as you can, leaving some pith on to still kinda hold the lemon together – so it’s not a big mushy piece of fruit, if you know what I’m getting at, and then slice them paper-thin. The real way is to leave the whole rind on your slices, but my husband didn’t like it that way, he thought it was too chewy or something. It didn’t bother me any, I thought it was fun. It’s up to you of course. I do believe that the Martha Stewart version uses some with rind and some without. Anyway, I digress. Get rid of your seeds – there aren’t really that many and if a couple of them do get missed, I don’t think it’ll be such a big deal. But you should at least try your best. Also get rid of those sliced off rinds if you chose to slice them off. Toss the pretty, fragrant, thin, little circles of sunshine into the bowl with the zest. Pour your 2 cups of sugar and your 1/4 tsp. of salt over them. Mix it up nice, cover it, put it in the fridge or a cool place. Wait 24 hours.
Twenty- four hours or so have passed and now you will need 1/2 stick of melted butter, 4 eggs and 3 Tbl of flour.
Take your yummy lemons out of the fridge. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Put the bottom pie crust in your pie pan. Whisk your eggs until they are nice and frothy. Gently add your butter and flour, whisking until smooth. Add this to your bowl of lemons. Mix it good and pour it into your pie shell. Put on your top shell, crimp your edges and what not and cut your steam vents. Make it look fancy if you like or do that lattice dealie, whatever makes you smile.
Bake your pie at 425° for 30 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Reduce the heat to 350° and continue to bake until the top is golden, about 25 min more, give or take a few. Let it cool for at least a half an hour before serving. I personally like it room temperature so I don’t cut into it for at least two hours. I think it tastes even better the next day. I also don’t keep it in the fridge. I don’t know if this is good or bad because I don’t know what the pie-keeping rules are but it’s only like sixty degrees outside and I haven’t gotten sick yet, so fingers crossed!
I do suggest you search the web for other versions of this recipe. It’s easy and I feel, inexpensive enough to try. Just remember, it’s probably not the same kind of pie as you’re used to. It certainly ain’t fancy, but pie doesn’t need to be fancy, hence the old saying “simple as pie.”