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!
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.