If the idea of cutting up whole lemons and using them (flesh, pith and peel) as a pie filling causes you to pucker involuntarily, then you're not alone. And yet, as caustic as they may sound, whole lemons, sliced very thin, are the main ingredient in a classic Shaker Lemon Pie, which, with the help of a good amount of sugar and some eggs, makes for a unique and totally delicious treat.
The Shakers of Ohio were a frugal people, and, aiming to avoid wasting a single bit of their precious lemons, they created a pie that utilized every bit of them (save for the seeds). The result is a pie filling that falls somewhere between a lemon curd and a marmalade; sweet, slightly sour, and richly eggy all at the same time. For lovers of lemon desserts in their most pure, true form, you have hit the mother lode.
I tried making two different versions of Shaker Lemon Pie, one using regular Eureka lemons, and one using Meyer lemons. I found the flavor and texture of the Meyers more pleasing by far because they are less acidic and have a sweeter aroma—more importantly, they have much less pith (the white stuff) than their thicker-skinned counterparts. With less pith comes less bitterness and fewer tough pieces in the filling.
Right now Meyers are in season, so now is the time to make a Shaker Pie of your very own. It's worth trying once, or once again, if you're a lemon fiend.
Get the Recipe
About the author: Lauren Weisenthalhas logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.