Fabulous Lemon Pie

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summary: recipe for shaker lemon pie – easily the best lemon pie I’ve ever had (recipe includes pastry made with lard); SAVEUR magazine is wonderful and why it’s a good reason to keep back issues; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

lemon pie Isn’t SAVEUR magazine great? Some years ago (longer ago than I had realized until quite recently), I was given a subscription to the magazine. I was ecstatic. I generally read each one cover to cover then put it out for T to read. For some reason, last month it took me longer than usual to get through the current issue and there was murmuring. Discontented murmuring:

he: I think I have this last issue of SAVEUR memorized. It’s been here for ages. Can we have a different one?

SAVEUR no.50 'American Pie' So I went deep into our stack of back issues and pulled out No.50 from April 2001. (Really?! We’ve been getting SAVEUR for about 10 years?!) My reason for picking that particular issue was the really beautiful picture of lemons and pie on the front cover and the title “American Pie”.

And not long afterward, there were new murmurs. Contented murmurs:

he: Mmmmmmm… do we have any lemons?

me: I think so. Why?

he: I want to make Shaker Lemon Pie. I can’t believe we didn’t make it before.

me: Okay… And Shaker Lemon Pie is??

he: You’ll see.

And I did see. And I can’t believe we didn’t make Shaker Lemon Pie before either. How on earth did we miss noticing it? It’s fabulous. It’s the best lemon pie I’ve ever had.

We didn’t follow their recipe for pastry – not that we think their pastry would be bad. It’s just that we know our pastry is phenomenally good.

And after consulting several other internet recipes for Shaker Lemon Pie, we also decided to omit the flour from the filling.

Here is our take on the SAVEUR recipe. (We made half the following recipe and used a casserole dish lid as a pie plate):

Shaker Lemon Pie
based on the recipe for “Shaker Lemon Pie” in SAVEUR number 50 (April 2001)


  • 2 large lemons
  • 2 c sugar
  • ¼ tsp seasalt
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted


  • 2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ⅔ c (167ml) lard
  • ICE-COLD water (anywhere from 3 Tbsp to ¾ c)


  1. Filling: The day before you are going to make the pie, wash lemons well and allow them to dry. Slice them – including the rind – very thinly (T used his favourite sharp knife but a mandoline would work too). Remove and compost any seeds. Place the slices in a pyrex bowl Toss with sugar and salt. Cover and set aside in the refrigerature for 24 hours (Saveur suggests leaving the bowl at room temperature).
  2. Pastry: Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut the lard into the flour and salt until it is pea sized. Add ICE-COLD water a little at a time and mix lightly until it is pastry consistency. Use a pastry cutter if your hands are warm or use your hands if you have cold hands like mine. Please note that the amount of water changes drastically, depending on the humidity. (For whatever pastry recipe you use, if it is very humid, reduce the amount of water called for.)
  3. Wrap the pastry tightly in plastic. REFRIGERATE AT LEAST ONE HOUR.
  4. Filling (cont): Whisk eggs until light coloured and frothy. Whisk in butter. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the eggs into the lemon mixture.
  5. Assemble the pie: Handling the pastry as little as possible, place it on a lightly floured board. Cut it in half. Roll out one half into a large round that will fill a 9″ pie plate.
  6. Dump the filling into the prepared bottom crust.
  7. Once again, handling the pastry as little as possible, roll out the other half to create the top crust. Drape it over the lemon mixture, trimming to leave about an inch hanging over. Keep the trimmings!! Gently fold and pinch the two crusts together with water, or fruit juice or juice from the lemons. Use the trimmings to gently patch pieces of crust onto the rim.
  8. Use a sharp knife to put holes into the top layer (ensure that the bottom layer remains unpierced). Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425F. Then turn the oven down to 350F and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes more: until the filling is bubbling in centre and the crust is golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Serve with or without ice cream.


» In the past, we have used our recipe for lemon butter as the filling for lemon meringue pie. (I can’t believe there are no posts here for lemon meringue pie!!) But from now on, as good as the lemon butter is, I think we will use this filling recipe for lemon meringue pie.

» If you are serving this pie to vegetarians, use unsalted butter rather than lard in the pastry.

lemon pie Just before dinner, we handed a wedge of pie across the fence to our neighbours and went inside to finish chopping vegetables, etc for our dinner. While we were dining, the phone rang; we let the machine pick up. And an ominous somewhat familiar voice said, “Tomorrow morning, if it feels like someone has been in the house but only pie is missing… we have a key….”

And being forewarned, we hid the rest of the pie. Yes. It really is that good.

lemon pie So. Do you have any lemons? If not, you must get some. You need to make this pie.

Some years ago, we were raving to friends about what a great lemon meringue pie T had made. And one of them looked wistful and said softly, “I love lemon meringue pie…”. So the next time they came to our house for dinner, T pulled out all the stops to make lemon meringue pie just for her. And the pie was beautiful! The meringue was lofty and peaked and golden. The filling looked perfect – lovely light coloured and fluffy – lemon yellow, in fact. :-)

And we gave C the first piece. A big piece. “You’re going to love this pie.”

And she took a big bite. And her eyes went wide.

“Well?? …what do you think? Isn’t it fantastic?”

Tearing a bit, C’s eyes went wider and she swallowed. Dramatically. “Mrrmmmm… It’s really tart, isn’t it?”, she murmured politely.

“Yes, it’s not horribly sweet like some lemon meringue pies.”

“Mrrmmmm…” came the polite response, as C carefully put her fork down, looking a little puzzled.

Confused at the lack of swooning, T and I took bites out of our pieces of pie. And gasped.

Mrrmmmpphhhhhhh!!! Tart!! It’s so SOUR!!!

And T suddenly realized that he had forgotten to put in any sugar. We tried to rescue the situation by sprinkling the rest of the pie liberally with sugar. But it was a lost cause.

We never did stop laughing about that pie.

Unbelievably, T never redeemed himself to make another lemon meringue pie for C. We meant to. We really did.

Wouldn’t she love this Shaker Lemon Pie! How I wish we could give her a slice and watch her beautiful big eyes widen with pleasure this time! (But we still wouldn’t stop laughing about the other pie.)


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1 response to “Fabulous Lemon Pie

  1. Joanne

    I get the Saveur weekly emails and I love reading them! The recipes always sound so good.

    I adore any dessert that has lemon in it. Thanks so much for sharing this pie!


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