Pie-a-Day #17: SippitySup’s Lemon Cake Pie

This post comes to us from Greg Henry of the blog SippitySup.

The 1970’s were when my own awareness of food began to develop. My mother was a fantastic cook. She probably learned most of her skills during this same period and I’d bet that Julia Child, Simone Beck and the whole Mastering the Art of French Cooking craze were her primary sources of inspiration.

While other kids were scarfing down “Tuna Twist”, “Mug-O-Lunch” and “Shake-A-Puddin”, my mom was serving us Bouillabaisse, Duck a la Orange, and Mousse de Foies de Volaille. She even taught my little brother and me how to make perfect little crêpe so that she could have 2 or 3 pans going at once for her famous dinner parties!

Sadly she passed away quite young. Long before I ever developed an interest in cooking. But her passion was obviously instilled in me.

So I decided to make this pie in honor of my mother. I found the recipe in a cookbook my brother complied from my mother’s recipe files after she died. The first few years it was in my possession I never really cooked from it. I would occasionally peek through the book. But those peeks were more like a trip down memory lane than anything else.

This recipe is called Lemon Cake Pie. It’s a sort of southern recipe to me from my childhood… and though it comes from my mother’s cookbook I know for a fact this recipe is not completely original to my mother. Because I remember this recipe from a Betty Crocker Cookbook we used to have around the house.


I remember it vividly in fact, because to my young non-cooking brain I found the physics of the recipe fascinating. Because all you do is mix up the ingredients and then put them into a pie shell and  “poof” miraculously during baking it separates into a lemon curd on the bottom and the lightest, fluffiest cake you can imagine on the lemon cake on the top. I hope my photos are able to show this voodoo sufficiently enough to impress you, because I still find the whole process magical!

This is also the very first pie I have ever made. Now I have made tarts, and quiches, and turnovers and croustades. But a good old American pie has never come from my oven. So I have my mom to thank for getting me over my fears regarding pie. Thanks mom!

Perfect Piecrust

This is Martha Stewart’s recipe for piecrust and my mothers favored method. Or so her notes lead me to believe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 tsp salt
3⁄4 cup very cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 Tablespoon vegetable shortening, chilled
1⁄4 cup ice water

Put flour and salt in bowl of machine. Cut butter and margarine into flour. Process a few seconds until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drop by drop add the water, processing very briefly. The whole process would take 20 to 30 seconds. Wrap and chill the pastry for at least 1 hour. If pastry has been chilled for a long time, let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before rolling.

Lightly flour a pastry board, marble counter, or kitchen counter. Divide the pastry in half. Pat each piece of pastry into a flat round. Lightly flour the rolling pin. Roll pastry in one direction only, turning pastry continually to prevent it from sticking to the surface.

Using pie plate as a guide, measure rolled-out pastry — it should be slightly larger than the pie plate and 1/8-inch thick. Fold rolled pastry circle in half so you can lift it more easily. Unfold, gently fitting the pastry into the pie plate, allowing pastry to hang evenly over the edge. Do not trim the pastry yet.

Fill the pie with filling. Then roll out the second crust in the same manner as for the bottom. Fold circle in half and with a sharp, pointed knife cut little vents in a decorative pattern. Place folded pastry on one half the pie. Unfold, pressing top and bottom pastry together. Trim edges with scissors, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold bottom pastry overhang over top and press firmly to seal. Crimp rim, using fingers or the tines of a fork.

Lemon Cake Pie

1⁄2 recipe for perfect piecrust,
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄3 cup flour
1 pinch salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons
3 large eggs, separated
1 1⁄4 cup milk

Put rack on lowest position in oven. Preheat oven to 375.  Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie tine with 1/2 a recipe of Perfect Pie Crust. Crimp or decorate the edges as desired.

In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter and sugar. Stir in flour, salt, lemon peel and lemon juice.  In a small bowl, beat egg yolks with milk until well blended, stir into lemon mixture.

In another medium-sized bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until they hold distinct but moist peaks. Gently fold egg whites into lemon mixture. (Don’t mix it too much.).

Pour filling into prepared piecrust.  Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until the top is browned and the center jiggles only slightly when pan is gently shaken (45-55 minutes). If the crust begins to brown excessively, drape it with foil.

Let cool before serving.

  • I will make it for the name alone. A sippity sup to you too.

  • this looks simply divine. Greg, my birthday's on Friday….hint hint.

  • I'm a sucker for lemon anything…love this Greg!

  • Mmm, Greg. I love pudding cakes. Now pie cake has got to be as good!

  • Patricia

    My question is: How can you know if the pie jiggles in the center if it has a pie crust on top? Is the photo shown one the from the sender of the recipe, or from your files?

    • Ruth

      I don't think you put a crust on top….that's the cake rising to the top in the picture

    • Trisha

      That isn't the crust on top…that is the cake on top. So from the bottom it is crust, pudding/pie and cake. That is what she was saying about the physics of the recipe being fascinating.

    • Shirley

      It says to only use 1/2 pie crust recipe – the half that goes on the bottom. the other half is used for another pie.

    • Ruby

      That's not the pie crust…see how the cake and crust are two different colors? I know it looks like pie crust on top though 🙂

    • Patricia

      It's the voodoo that is at work here. The crust only goes on the bottom of the pie pan. The mixture magically separates into a lemon curd on the bottom and a light fluffy cake "crust" on top! It's hard to imagine how it works, but it is sooo easy to achieve. The only trick is to gently fold the whites into the lemon mixture. Do not over-mix, it's ok if it looks streaky and not fully incorporated.

      I took the photos too. There are more on my blog here that might help you envision this. http://www.sippitysup.com/judis-bistro-lemon-cake

      But the best way to see how the magic works is to try it yourself. I bet you'll be pleased. GREG

    • I see where the confusion comes from because I included Martha Stewart's entire recipe for pie crust. She explains how to add a top to the pie. That is not needed in this case. It's just that I did not feel worthy of editing Martha's recipe!!

      For this lemon cake pie you only need to use 1/2 of her recipe, lining just the bottom of the pan. The rest may be saved for another pie. GREG

  • Susan

    I'm confused. Where does the cake part come into the recipe? If the egg whites are blended into the lemon mixture….. bah! Just plain ol' confused!

  • Patricia

    The copy/paste from the recipe (below) is why I asked the question. The recipe says top and bottom crust…even cut decorative vents into the top crust…that's why I asked the 2 questions. (1) "How can you see if the pie jiggles in the center if it has a top crust.?" (2) And, " Is the photo one on file or from the sender?"
    The photo looks like it does not have a top crust. It's a little confusing.

    Quote from the recipe :
    Fill the pie with filling. Then roll out the second crust in the same manner as for the bottom. Fold circle in half and with a sharp, pointed knife cut little vents in a decorative pattern. Place folded pastry on one half the pie. Unfold, pressing top and bottom pastry together. Trim edges with scissors, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold bottom pastry overhang over top and press firmly to seal. Crimp rim, using fingers or the tines of a fork.

    • Patricia

      I have slow dial-up internet, so I did not see the reply from sippitysup until I submitted my second comment…then my slow interned updated the status. Thanks for your reply. I knew the photo did not look like a top crust, but the recipe said it did have one.

  • Can't wait to try this one!

  • Sylvia Theresa


  • Sylvia Theresa

    Iget it now

  • Sue

    My mother used to make this for me for every birthday, without the crust. You need to bake it in a pan of water if there's no crust.

  • Kate

    Would this recipe work with a graham cracker crust??

    • If you think a graham cracker crust can handle 50 minutes or so in the oven it would work. My guess is it would get too brown.

  • fran

    Ok I luv lemon anything but I'm cornfused badly so after putting half of the crust in the bottom and u said the second have to roll out where is that places if there isn't a top crust ?

    • The pie crust recipe is Martha Stewart's recipe word for word. It is a good simple pie crust and can be used in this recipe. But once you make the crust ignore her directions on how to line the pie pan. Once the crust is made you may make the Lemon Cake Pie where it states that you only need half of the dough from the Martha Stewart recipe. That dough lines the bottom and sides of the pie pan. The other half of the dough may be saved and used on another pie. I guess I should have edited out part of Martha's recipe to be more clear. GREG

  • eva

    Want to eat this

  • Justine Jones

    My grandmother made this pie. Its a pennsylvania dutch recipe called Lemon Sponge pie. Ours never had a top crust. Its the best. So much better than lemon meringue

  • susie

    The taste is awesome………I made it tonight. I did have to cover it and cook it much longer. Some of the top cake stuck on my foil so it ruined the looks. I would spray with Pam before topping it!

  • Buddy

    I know this has to be a good pie because the super huge piece you cut out of it. The point of the piece you cut goes past the center. Either way it look absolutely delicious and I will be making it this week end.