Craving: More Pie!

By: Liz Gray

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Some say this is the year of the pie. While I'm all for the advancement of my all-time favorite dessert (yes, I love it more than all things chocolate), I'm with Brooklyn's Baked bakery co-owner Matt Lewis, who summed it up like this: Let's talk about pie less and eat it more.

What To Eat Now: Shaker Lemon Pie

I decided to lead the charge for the rest of you by making an old-fashioned, super-lemony custard pie with sweet-and-sour Meyer lemons. Sure, it's perfect for Valentine's Day, but you really don't need an excuse to eat a pie this delicious. Start making it now.

Why "Shaker Lemon Pie"?

The idea for this amazing pie originated in the now-defunct Shaker settlements. Shakers were industrious folks, inventing not only the circular saw, a machine to core and cut apples and a revolving oven, but also this custard pie that includes whole lemon slices, including the rind.

Also a thrifty bunch, they couldn't bear the thought of throwing away lemon rinds, so they sliced lemons ever-so-thinly and macerated them overnight with sugar, creating what's akin to lemon marmalade. Then you mix that into a custard for a mellow, complex finished product. Using Meyer lemons (a cross between a Mandarin orange and a lemon) makes it much less sour than the original version. My dad (a fellow pie aficionado) visited Ohio's Shaker village many years ago, and has been extolling on the virtues of this pie ever since.  So when I came across Meyer lemons at the store and this recipe from Saveur by way of Smitten Kitchen all in the same week, I knew it was time to start baking.

The pie requires a little planning, but it's really pretty easy to put together. There are really just three steps: Macerate the lemons, mix the custard and make the crust.

Zest 2 Meyer lemons, then slice them super-thin and toss with sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups versus the 2 in the recipe) and salt. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours.

The next day, make the filling, which is simply eggs, butter, a little flour, and your lemon mixture.  Tuck it between two sheets of your favorite pie crust, and in about an hour, you have this:

It will smell amazing. You will want to dig in straight from the oven, but don't do it! Wait at least 30 minutes to let the custard fully gel. No one will know if it's, in fact, 29 minutes. You can serve with ice cream (or a berry sorbet would be good), but you really, really don't need it.

Craving more pie recipes? Try these out-of-this world options from Cooking Channel chefs:

For more Valentine's Day dessert and meal ideas, check our our Best Valentine's Day Ideas.

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