The virtue of the Shakers' pies, like their furniture, lies in a straightforward character married to elegance. This Meyer lemon pie has only five ingredients, after the crust, and yet it spills out a glorious jammy filling of sunny lemons — sweet, tart, and a little bitter.
This is my go-to pie for early spring; I don't know any better way to finish a Sunday supper in April.
I adore Meyer lemons in this pie. It's like eating fragrant, bergamot-touched marmalade, oozing yellow sun from between two flaky pie crusts. The lemons bake up jammy and tender — not too sour, and not too sweet.
I cannot claim any kind of originality here. This is a basic, classic recipe; pretty much every Shaker lemon pie recipe will have the same proportions of lemons, eggs, and sugar.
And no: you don't peel the lemons. You just slice them as thin as possible; I used to like a mandoline for this but it's tough on softer lemons, so now I prefer to slice up the fruit with a very sharp small paring knife.
Meyer Lemon Shaker Pie
Makes one 9" double crust pie. Serves 8.
4 to 7 small to medium Meyer lemons
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 batch homemade or store-bought pie dough (see our instructions here)
To finish the pie:
1 large egg, separated, yolks and whites lightly whisked in separate bowls
2 teaspoons sugar
Shave the unpeeled lemons into very thin slices and pick out any seeds. You should have about 2 cups of sliced lemons. Toss with the sugar and salt and set aside to macerate. Whisk together the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Lightly grease a 9-inch pie dish or tart pan. Roll out half of the dough between two pieces of wax paper into a circle. Peel off the top layer of wax paper. Place your pie dish upside down on the pie dough round, and carefully flip the pan and dough over. Peel away the wax paper on that side and carefully press the dough into the pan. There should be about 1/2 inch to 1 inch of dough above the lip of the pan. Tuck under and roll this extra dough, and pinch tight to the side of the pan.
Brush the bottom of the crust with beaten egg yolks. Stir the sliced lemons into the egg and vanilla mixture and spread this in the pie pan.
Roll out the other half of the dough between two pieces of wax paper. Place this dough round on top of the pie dish and trim to fit, leaving a little overhang. Roll the overhang up and pinch tightly to seal with the crust. Crimp or seal the edges with your fingers or a fork.
Cut a few slits on the top to let out steam. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle the sugar sugar on top. Chill in the freezer for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Bake the pie on the lowest oven rack for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375°F and move the pie to the center rack. Bake for another 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. If the crust edges begin browning too much cover with parchment.
Let cool for at least half an hour before eating, but note that this is very good warm! Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream are both heavenly with it.
Updated from recipe originally published April 2008.
(Image credits: Faith Durand)