Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 20, 2022

© France Ruffenach

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Shaker lemon pie

This recipe demonstrates the simplicity, wholesomeness and ingenuity of the Shakers, who were renowned bakers.

Making this pie could not be easier. You’re essentially putting all the raw ingredients for the lemon curd into an unbaked pie shell and letting the oven do the rest.

The key to success is using a very sharp knife to slice the lemons paper-thin. Using the whole lemon, rind and all, gives the filling the texture of marmalade. Don’t cut back on the sugar. It looks like a lot, but compensate by using a tart pan, rather than a pie dish, which balances the intensity of the filling with more crust.

For the curd
2 medium lemons
2 c. (500 ml) sugar
2 flaky tart dough rounds, each 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter (see recipe on page 93)
4 large eggs
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) salt

For the egg wash
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. (15 ml) heavy cream
sugar for decorating
unsweetened softly whipped cream for serving

Slice the lemons paper-thin, discarding the ends and any seeds. Put them in a nonreactive, stainless-steel or glass bowl and, using a spoon or your hands, toss with the sugar. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours, up to overnight.

If you are using more tender-skinned Meyer lemons, proceed to the next step without letting them sit; the skins don’t need the sugar to tenderize them.

Use 1 pastry round to line a 10-inch (25-cm) tart pan with a removable bottom, easing it into the bottom and sides and leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm) overhang. Set aside.

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 pan. The mixture will be very runny and you’ll have to distribute the lemon pieces.

To make the egg wash, whisk together the egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Brush the rim of the pastry with the wash to help the top pastry round adhere. Lay the second round over the filling and trim the overhang of both rounds to ¼ inch (6 mm). Crimp the edge as you would a pie, making sure you have a good seal. Brush the top with the wash and then sprinkle sugar evenly over the top. Chill for 30 minutes.

While the pie is chilling, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

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 pan on the lined baking sheet. Bake until the pie is deep gold on top and the filling is bubbling, 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. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed (warm in the oven before serving). The pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Makes one tart, 8 to 12 servings.

Note: Chill the lemons before slicing. They firm up when cold making them easier to slice paper-thin. Also, start by making one horizontal cut so you’ll have a flat surface that allows you to slice the lemon more safely and evenly. Don’t use an aluminum bowl. The lemons will react with the metal, giving the filling a metallic taste.

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