If you’re like me, if the crust is flaky enough, any day is pie day. However, officially, March 14th is National Pi Day! To celebrate we are featuring a Shaker Citrus Pie by Allison Kave, from New York’s own First Prize Pie company. I realize it is a little bit late in the citrus season, but thought that since the cold doesn’t seem to want to leave, you may still have some choice citrus with which to make this pie. Allison has also included some variations on the filling, which may be more readily available at other times of the year. I admit that I am not an ace at making flaky pie crusts, and if I lived anywhere near Allison, I’d order one of her pies for the weekend and have a few friends over to share. –Kristina
About Allison: Allison Kave is the founder of the made-to-order First Prize Pies pie company. She has taught pie making at the French Culinary Institute and the James Beard Institute. Allison is also partnering with Keavy Blueher of Kumquat Cupcakery to create the soon-to-be Butter & Scotch, Brooklyn’s first dessert and craft cocktail bar. Learn more at www.butterandscotch.com. Her first book, First Prize Pies: Shoo-Fly, Candy Apple, and Other Deliciously Inventive Pies for Every Week of the Year (and More) will be published this month by Stewart Tabori and Chang.
Click through for the full recipe after the jump!
Citrus fruit was a precious commodity back in the lean days when the Ohio Shaker community developed this recipe. True to their waste-not—want-not mentality, the Shakers utilized every part of the lemons in their original version of this pie—rind and all. In my take, you can use pretty much any citrus you like, as long as you take into consideration each fruit’s particular qualities. The recipe below is for the classic lemon version, but check out the modifications that follow for different twists on this delicious classic, which is somewhere between a custard and a marmalade. This pie is wonderful warm or at room temperature, and pairs beautifully with coffee or ice cream.
Shaker Citrus Pie
Classic Pie Crust
Makes enough for one double-crust 9-inch (23-cm) pie
- 3⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks/170 g) unsalted European-style cultured butter
- 1⁄4 cup (55 g) rendered leaf lard OR additional butter
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or any light colored, mild vinegar)
- 12 ounces (340 g/ approximately 3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour (chilled)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 11⁄2 teaspoons salt
Make the crust.
- Prepare the butter and lard, if using. Cut the butter into ½-inch (12-mm) cubes (a bench scraper is perfect for this, but a sharp knife works well, too), and cut the lard into small pieces. Return them to the fridge or freezer to cool.
- In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk and vinegar. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to use.
- On a clean flat surface or in a large shallow bowl, toss the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt together lightly to blend. Add the butter and lard (if using) to the dry ingredients and, using the tool of your choice, cut the fat into the flour with speed and patience, until the fat has been reduced to small pea-sized chunks. Try to use a straight up-and-down motion, avoiding twisting your wrists, as the more you press on the flour the more tough gluten will develop in the dough. Avoid using your fingers, as the heat from your hands will melt the fat and further encourage gluten development. Unlike with pasta or bread, gluten is the enemy of pie dough, so be gentle, and be quick!
- Once your fat has been cut down to size, spread your mixture out gently to expose as much surface area as possible. Gently drizzle about half of your milk mixture over the flour, trying to cover as wide an area as you can.
- Using bench scrapers or a large spoon, toss the flour over the liquid (don’t stir; just lightly toss), spread everything out again, and repeat the process with the second half of the liquid. You should now have a dough that will just hold together when pressed against the bowl, with visible little chunks of butter. If you need to add more liquid to bind it, do so with more cold milk, adding a tablespoon at a time until you reach the right texture. It’s not an exact science, as everything from the humidity in the air to the dryness of your flour will affect the consistency of your dough.
- Once you’ve reached your goal, cover the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week, well wrapped, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- 2 large lemons (organic if possible, but if not, use a fruit wash to thoroughly clean the skin)
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1⁄4 cup (30 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 cup (1⁄2 stick/55 g) unsalted butter, melted
- Egg wash or milk, for glaze
- Raw sugar, for garnish
Make the filling.
- In a large bowl, fully zest both lemons. Using a mandoline, vegetable slicer, or a very sharp knife, slice the lemons into paper-thin rounds (discard the ends of the lemons), removing the seeds as you go, and add them to the bowl with the zest. Add the sugar and salt to the lemon slices and stir to coat them completely. Allow them to sit, covered, at room temperature for anywhere from 1 hour to overnight. The longer the slices sit in the sugar and salt, the more time the rinds will have to break down. For those who enjoy the bitter flavor of the rind, 1 hour is plenty of time.
- When the lemons are ready, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Roll out half of the dough into a circle about 11 inches (28 cm) in diameter. Transfer it to a 9-inch (23-cm) pie plate. Trim the overhang to 1 inch (2.5 cm), and refrigerate the crust.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and flour, then add the butter and whisk until it is fully blended. Stir the egg mixture into the lemons.
- Put the pie crust on a baking sheet. Fill it with the lemon mixture, and brush the edges of the crust with egg wash or milk. Roll out the second half of the dough into a circle about 11 inches (28 cm) in diameter. Lay it over the pie, and trim the overhang to 1 inch (2.5 cm). Roll the edges of the dough inward or outward and crimp the edge to your liking. Cut slits in the top crust, brush the crust with egg wash or milk, and sprinkle it with raw sugar.
- Bake the pie for 20 minutes, rotating it once halfway through. Lower the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake it for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and fully baked and the filling doesn’t jiggle under the crust when the baking sheet is moved. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before serving. This pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered in plastic. Allow it to come to room temperature, or warm it in a low oven, before serving. The pie can also be frozen for up to 2 months: Cover it in plastic wrap, then in foil. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
Substitute 1 large grapefruit for the lemons. Zest it as in the recipe above, but remove the thick white pith around the fruit and discard it. Slice the rest of the fruit thinly. This version does not need to macerate in the sugar for as long a period of time; 30 minutes is plenty. As grapefruits are not as tart as lemons, only use 1 cup (200 g) sugar.
Substitute 4 limes for the lemons. Zest them as in the recipe above, but remove the tough rind from around the fruit and discard it. Slice the rest of the fruit thinly. This version does not need to macerate in the sugar for as long a period of time; 30 minutes is plenty.
These fragrant lemons are not as tart as their everyday counterparts, so if you’re lucky enough to find them to use with this pie, treat them exactly as in the recipe above, but cut the sugar down to 1 cup (200 g).
Reprinted with permission by Stewart Tabori and Chang. All photography copyright Tina Rupp.
Why Allison loves this recipe
When the bleak, interminable days of winter in NYC threaten to break my spirit, I turn to this pie or a good dose of sunshine. I love how endlessly adaptable it is (you can make it with any type or combination of citrus you like), and it’s rich enough to fill those wintry cravings but fresh and light enough to remind me that summer’s not too far away!