Lemons are one of life’s “little luxuries,” said Susan LaTempa and Donna Deane in the Los Angeles Times. That’s especially true this year, after freezes destroyed much of the citrus crop. Scarcity and expense have made cooks especially appreciative of the lemon’s “unique panoply of flavors and textures.” This recipe, adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson (Chronicle Books, $35), can be made with either regular or Meyer lemons. Its understated simplicity makes this pie a perfect—and delicious—example of the Shaker ethos.
Recipe of the week
Shaker Lemon Pie
This pie may be served with lightly whipped unsweetened cream, if desired. Sanding sugar is coarse sugar used in decorating baked goods. Unless you’re using more tender-skinned Meyer lemons, prepare the lemons a few hours (or the night) before and set them aside to tenderize. Then prepare the dough and refrigerate to chill.
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup very cold water
3 cups plus 2 tbsp flour
1 cup plus 5 tbsp very cold butter
To make dough by hand, put flour in mixing bowl. Slice butter into 1-inch pieces and scatter over flour. Using pastry blender, cut butter into flour until mixture forms large crumbs and some butter is still pea-size. Drizzle in water-salt mixture; toss with fork until dough becomes a shaggy mass. Gently mix until dough comes together into ball but is not completely smooth. Some butter chunks should still be visible.
On lightly floured surface, divide dough into 2 equal balls. Shape each into 1-inch-thick disc. Wrap well in plastic wrap; chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. (Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, prepare lemons.)
On lightly floured surface, roll out one disc of dough to 1/8-inch thick, rolling from center toward edge in all directions. Lift and rotate dough a quarter turn every few strokes to discourage sticking, working quickly to prevent dough from becoming warm. Lightly dust work surface with extra flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Roll dough to make a round 1-1/2 inches larger than pan. Carefully transfer round to 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, easing it into bottom and sides, then pressing gently into place, leaving 1-inch overhang. Roll out remaining disc to make second round for top crust. Cover and refrigerate.
Filling and assembly
2 medium lemons (about 1/2 lb)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp heavy cream
Cut lemons into paper-thin slices, discarding thicker stem end and any seeds. Put in stainless steel or glass bowl, add sugar, toss. Cover and let
sit at room temperature for 3 hours or overnight. Seeds that float to top can be fished out. (If using Meyer lemons, proceed to next step without letting them sit.)
In small bowl, whisk eggs and salt until blended. Add eggs to lemon mixture; mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into pastry-lined tart pan. Mixture will be very liquidy, so distribute lemon pieces evenly by hand.
To make egg wash, whisk together egg yolk and cream in small bowl. Brush rim of pastry with egg wash. Lay second pastry round over filling. Trim pastry by pressing down on edge of pan and discarding cut-off scraps. Brush top crust with egg wash, sprinkling sanding sugar evenly over top. Chill for about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a few slits in crust, and place tart on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
Bake until pie is golden brown on top and filling is bubbling, about one hour. Let pie cool completely to allow filling to set properly. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed. Serves 8 to 10.