Shaker Lemon Pie

Shaker Lemon Pie made by Art of The Pie Graduate, Caroline Calvillo

I’ve been noticeably absent from my blog for a while. Life has thrown me a couple of lemons and as you may imagine I’ve been doing what any good pie baker would do…I’ve made Shaker Lemon Pies!

This pie has become a staple around my house and in my Art of The Pie classes. Folks are astounded when they find out just how easy it is to make and how good it is to eat. I’ll provide the recipe a little further on in today’s post.

Shaker Lemon Pie with it's custardy filling.Here’s a photo of the lovely lemon custard you’ll find when you cut into the pie.

It was written about in a 1987 New Yorker piece by Sue Hubbell called “The Great American Pie Expedition”. The essay was later included in her book “From Here to There and Back Again“. With her dog, Tazzie, Sue traveled country back roads searching for and eating pie. Great quest? I think so!

Here’s what Sue said about the history of this old time pie:

“The Shakers invented this pie back in the early eighteen-hundreds when they began trading goods they grew or manufactured for the few necessities they couldn’t produce. Lemons, which they considered an important item in a healthy diet, were one of the ‘world’s goods’ they needed. Their lemons came all the way from New Orleans and were so dear that the Shakers believed it a sin to waste any part of them, so they devised a recipe that would use the whole lemon.”

So this pie is easy, easy, easy!

Here’s how I make it:

Shaker Lemon Pie

2-3 lemons, very thinly sliced (Meyer lemons are really great for this pie!)
2 cups of white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
Very tiny pinch of salt (optional)
1 recipe for double crust pastry

Slice the lemons as thin as possible, the thinner the better. Put them in a bowl with 2 cups of sugar. Mix with a spoon and let them sit overnight or atleast 6 hours.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 450F.

Add the beaten eggs, salt and mix well.

Roll out the bottom crust and pour the lemon/sugar/egg mixture in.

Roll out top crust and cover. Crimp edges and cut vent holes. (This pie is pretty with a lattice crust, too.)

Brush with egg white wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 for about 25 minutes more. (Check at 20 minutes.) The pie is done when an inserted knife comes out clean.

The pie’s flavor is bright and tart. Try a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some homemade Crème Fraîche with it.

Oh and…

Be Happy! Make Pie!

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  1. Laura says

    Yes, remove the seeds before adding the sugar. The rinds are VERY necessary; that’s what makes the pie so special.

  2. says

    Looks wonderful, but are you serious, do you really use ALL of the lemon? Pits, rind and all??? Would it work if you remove the pits and (most of) the rind, or does the pie really need those? (Not too sure if I can deal with pits and whole rinds in my pie… just not sure!)

    • says

      Hi Valerie-
      I was surprised the first time how much I liked it because I had the same reservations as you. Yes, use the entire lemon, minus the seeds of course. I use 2 big lemons or during the winter, when Meyer lemons are around, 3-4 or those. Cut them really thin. If you are comfortable with a mandoline, you might try using one of those. Be careful of your fingers! When the slices are too thick, the rinds are very noticeable.

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