Meyer Lemon and Ginger Pie

One of the best things about having a food blog is the people you meet.

People like the nice lady in California who read the post I wrote about Meyer lemons last year, and commented that if I wanted to pay for the shipping, she would pack me up a box of her Meyers from the tree in her yard and send them out to me.

So, we emailed back and forth, and she packed me up a box of Meyers with some pink grapefruit thrown in for fun, and I arranged a UPS pickup and had it shipped to me.

And about a week later, I had a box of beautiful, huge, ripe, fragrant, delicious Meyer lemons on my doorstep. (I paid for ground shipping–the two day shipping price from there to here was beastly expensive.) Only one lemon did not survive the journey–the rest were in great shape.

What did this kind lady ask of me in return for her sweet offer to share the fruit from her tree?

That I post a few new recipes for Meyer lemons.

So, here we are. I have a box of lemons (one of which I sliced up and just plain old ate out of hand), and I need to figure up some new things to do with them.

The first thing that struck me was this is the perfect time to make a recipe I have been meaning to make for nigh on twenty-five years.

Shaker Lemon Pie.

I read about this 19th century recipe that originated with the Shakers, a sect of ecastatic Protestant Christians who lived in communes and had visitations from angels, and I wanted to make it right away. My boyfriend’s sister thought it sounded amazing, too, but somehow, the two of us never got around to making it–in large part because we were not so good at making pie crust. But you see, now that I spent a summer perfecting pies and pie crusts, I have no excuse.

What is Shaker Lemon Pie? Well, it is simple. You slice two lemons paper thin, rind and all, take out the seeds and macerate it overnight with two cups of sugar. You stir it now and again so that the sugar all dissolves into a fragrant syrup. The next day, you prepare a crust for a 9-inch two crust pie and then beat four eggs really well, them mix them with the syrup and the lemon slices, and pour that into your bottom crust, cover it with a top crust, and bake it.

And that is it.

Well, that is it if you are a Shaker, which I am not, which Zak is very glad of, for the Shakers were celibate, which explains why they kind of died out.

But, if you are like me, and like the flavors of lemon and ginger together, you have to gild the lily a bit.

So, I added a tablespoon of Stone’s Original Ginger wine to the syrup, along with two tablespoons of crystallized ginger that I had minced up.

The ginger mixed with the floral-scented Meyer lemons took the pie into orbit. It was just plain old amazing.

So, here is the recipe, if you couldn’t get it from my description.


Meyer Lemon and Ginger Pie

Ingredients:

2 large Meyer lemons sliced paper thin (If you only have small lemons, use about 6-8 of them.)
2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon Stone’s Original Ginger (optional–you can substitute ginger juice from fresh ginger)
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
pastry dough for 2 crust 9-inch pie (Note: I made this crust with all butter–Plugra to be exact)
4 large eggs, well beaten

Method:

The night before you want to bake your pie, slice your lemons very thinly with a sharp knife, discard seeds, and put into a glass bowl, with as much juice as you can collect from cutting board. Add brown sugar, Stone’s, and ginger, and stir until well combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to macerate overnight. Stir it once or twice to make sure the sugar all dissolves into a fragrant brown syrup.

The next day, preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare pie dough and roll out. Line 9-inch pie plate with dough, and trim edge neatly.

Take the well beaten eggs and stir them into the lemons and syrup. Pour into prepared pie shell, cover with the other piece of rolled out dough, trim edges, flute and seal edges, and cut vents in the center.

Cover edges of pie with foil or an edge guard, also known as a “Pie Chakram” if you are a weirdo like me, and bake at 450 for fifteen minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for twenty minutes more.

Allow to cool completely on a rack before cutting.

Note: Of course, I am trying to figure out what other citrus I can do this with. I am thinking a mixture of Meyer lemon and blood orange, like the pomegranate-colored Moro. Zak is all up in that, so I may have to go grab some blood oranges before the season is through so I can give it a shot and see what happens.

But the flavor is wonderful, particularly considering how few ingredients the pie filling has–it is tangy, sweet, floral and lemony all at once, with just a hint of ginger heat.

27 Comments

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  1. This sounds delicious, Barbara. I’ve had my eye on trying a Shaker pie for some time now. I agree with you that blood oranges would be a good choice. I also wouldn’t mind trying it with limes (a sweeter variety) just for something a little more exotic. Of course, I’d probably pump that lime filling full of vanilla, too. Mmm.

    Comment by Nic — March 12, 2006 #

  2. This post came right on time! I have this bag filled with lemons that has been hanging around in my kitchen now for a month and I’m getting a bit tired of it so I have started to think about what to do with them. The obvious choice was to make Limoncello but I still would have lemons left so now I know what to do! But I better ask you: do you think it works well with normal lemons or is there a Meyer lemon prerogative?

    Comment by ilva — March 12, 2006 #

  3. Has anyone ever made preserved lemons? My friend just gave me a giant bag of lemons (about 40!) and I that’s what I did. You slide 6 lemons and toss in a bowl with 1/3 cup salt, put in a large jar (I use cleaned mayo jars), juice 6-7 MORE lemons, and fill the jar with the juice. Then let sit in the fridge or not in the fridge if your house is cool, for at least two weeks. This is a moroccan condiment.

    I know it sounds crazy but it is delicious. They can be used with roast chicken, oily fish, pasta or couscous, in a salad dressing, as garnish for smoked salmon…

    This also works with Meyer lemons, in fact the original recipe I got used Meyer lemons. Thanks!

    Comment by charlene — March 12, 2006 #

  4. The original recipe, Ilva, was for plain lemons–when the Shakers innovated it, Meyers were not being grown here.

    So, bake away!

    Nic–the second thing I came up with was limes, but then Bry, told me that there were Key Limes available, and well, if I have Key Limes, there is no doubt, I must make Key Lime pie. Since Bry and Judi and Zak all spent most of their growing-up years in Florida…well, I think a traditional Key Lime Pie is inevitable.

    But after that….

    Comment by Barbara — March 12, 2006 #

  5. Charlene–I was thinking of doing either Moroccan preserved lemons or Indian lemon pickle with many of the rest of the box. I am leaning toward the pickle, since I adore Indian pickles and crave them continually–but thanks for the description of the preserved lemons!

    Comment by Barbara — March 12, 2006 #

  6. This sounds amazing and made me think of my own semi-successful experiment with a sweet version of preserved lemons. They didn’t respond to sugar in the same way they did to salt, but the syrup was excellent and it all made terrific lemonade.

    I wondered if you’d thought of doing julienne slices of crystalized ginger instead of using the ground spice?

    Comment by dargie — March 12, 2006 #

  7. Oops, sorry, I see you used ginger wine. That’s what I get for reading too fast and then coming back later to make the comment. *slaps forehead*

    Comment by dargie — March 12, 2006 #

  8. that’s a funny coincidence – a girl in my cooking class gave me a bag of over 60 meyer lemons on thursday. They are so fragrant and juicy! I have made a big jar of preserved lemons and almond pudding. Today I am going to attempt lemon tart and lemon curd. that’s the plan anyway. Better get to it.

    Comment by sam — March 12, 2006 #

  9. Barbara,

    Can white sugar be substituted for brown sugar (dark or light) ? Could you recommend a good book about Baking ? Thanks.

    Sonali

    Comment by Sonali — March 12, 2006 #

  10. A lemon tart, of the lemon curd-like type in a shallow butter crust is probably my favorite all time dessert. I am very excited to have another lemon pie to try. Question: (which comes to mind after recent marmalade adventures) how chewy is this filling?

    Comment by lindy — March 12, 2006 #

  11. Dargie–there is also minced crystallized ginger in the pie. The one-two punch of the wine and the ginger are what gives it the flavor–no powdered ginger at all is in the pie.

    Sam–lemon tart and lemon curd are delightful, but I had to try something different and new, you know. But Meyer lemons in lemon curd are amazing, just so you know.

    Sonali–yes, you can use white sugar instead. In fact, white sugar is what the traditional recipes for Shaker lemon pie use. Feel free to use it. As for a baking book, The King Arthur Flour Baking Book is a really good one as is The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham. Both of those are very worthwhile general baking books.

    Lindy–the filling is very tender. The sugar softens the lemon slices and begins breaking them down before they even get cooked. Once the egg is stirred in, it forms a loose custard with the syrup, and it is all soft and meltingly good when it is baked. It is surprisingly delicious. We just had second pieces today, and I swear it is even better after sitting another day. The flavor seems to develop over time.

    Comment by Barbara — March 12, 2006 #

  12. Thanks, Barbara. Clearly I’m either an idiot or I read too fast. *g* It’s been one of those days.

    It does sound wonderful.

    Comment by dargie — March 13, 2006 #

  13. Barbara, I make a lemon tart with macerated lemon slices and white sugar that I’ll have to post now so I can reference your recipe.

    What a great excuse to make a tart.

    Comment by barrett — March 13, 2006 #

  14. I love Shaker pie but have never had it with either meyer lemons or brown sugar. I must try this combination. Whenever I have lemons I make angel pie which has a meringue crust and lemon curd type of filling in which whipped cream has been folded in. Heavenly stuff.

    Comment by Maureen — March 13, 2006 #

  15. [...] Tigers & Strawberries ยป Meyer Lemon and Ginger Pie I love the idea of using all of the lemon but the seeds. If I manage to remember to look for Meyer lemons at the store, I’ll have to try making this. (tags: lemons lemon pies meyer_lemons recipes baking for-ted) [...]

    Pingback by Erin S. O’Connor » Blog Archive » links for 2006-03-13 — March 13, 2006 #

  16. I’d be ecstatic too if I could cook like that. With pie like this, who needs sex?

    Comment by Sibyl — March 13, 2006 #

  17. Hey Barbara! I get frustrated because my next door neighbor has a tree of these(I am in LA area) and they are overripe and bursting with juices. They just rot away.

    I HAVE snuck a few for Pizole that my friend made for us. I could NOT resist! One day I will ask them if I can just haravst the, They are going to watse!

    Comment by Tatyanna — March 13, 2006 #

  18. WARNING!
    I just tried this recipe with regular small lemons, and it turned out extremely bitter (everyone tried to be nice, but all agreed). I had been worried about that when macerating them, but increasing the sugar did not fix the problem. If attempting with regular lemons, I suggest peeling and zesting them instead. If you are using small lemons, you’ll wind up with much more peel (and bitter pith) than you will with large Meyers.

    Just a warning, but thanks for the recipe! I’ll try to make it work better next time.

    Comment by AR — March 14, 2006 #

  19. Barrett–I am glad to have inspired you to go ahead and make that tart. Because that sound way tasty….I can’t wait to see how you make it!

    Dargie–I vote for you reading too fast. No idiots here. ;-)

    Maureen–that angel pie sounds awesome–like an upside down lemon meringue pie, only even better, because there is whipped cream involved. Wow. Have you posted that recipe anywhere, because that is sounding mighty good.

    Sibyl–maybe the Shaker lemon pie is part of what stirred the Shakers to ecstasy in their dances and meetings. I wouldn’t be surprised–it is awfully good.

    Tatyanna–just ask if you can have them. If they are just letting them rot, I bet they would prefer that you clean them up before they rot and use them. Also, in LA, the law goes that whatever fruit hangs over a public sidewalk or street is public property and can be harvested for free. So, if any of those branches hang over the sidewalk, or the lemons drop on the sidewalk, anyone can pick them up. I was just reading about that on a blog somewhere the other day….

    Comment by Barbara — March 14, 2006 #

  20. AR–we cross-posted.

    The original recipe calls for using large lemons–and that is probably to avoid the amount of white, bitter pith, just as you surmised. One other thing you can do to look out for the bitterness issue is to find lemons that have thinner skins and use those. The ones with a lot of pith feel different when you squeeze them–they are the ones with the very thick skins.

    I don’t know how to describe how I tell by feel whether a lemon or lime has thick or thin skin–but I can tell. I will have to sit and ponder it and see if I can explain it in words.

    Comment by Barbara — March 14, 2006 #

  21. alrigth ur site helped me with my food technology courseowrk thansk you.

    Comment by sherelle — October 4, 2006 #

  22. I just thought you might want to know that you can get Flat Rate Boxes from your local US Post Office and fill it with any amount of weight and they will ship it, domestic, for $8.95. My father has orange trees and he shares fruit with family members this way. Shipping takes about two days. You can get a dozen or so big navel oranges in the box. You could brobably get twice that in lemons. I think these Flat Rate Boxes are just genius.

    The pie recipe looks great. I will try in soon.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Kristi Smiley — February 6, 2008 #

  23. Thank you, Kristi! That is very excellent to know!

    Comment by Barbara — February 11, 2008 #

  24. [...] This was supposed to be a Meyer lemon and ginger pie (a variation on the Shaker lemon pie). What it turned out to be was my first complete baking disaster. There have been things in the past that I’ve made that I have refrained from showing you, but those have all been things that I ate anyway. [...]

    Pingback by Those of you with delicate constitutions… « My blank page — April 5, 2008 #

  25. thanks for this delicious recipe! i added bing cherries (rainier would have been so ‘pacific nw’, no?) as well and it turned out just lovely. The lemons are sweet and tart in all the right spots!

    Comment by anika — May 30, 2008 #

  26. my very first Lemon Shaker pie. I inherited some lemons from a tree, not Meyers, but large and not too much pith. The pie turned out great! I like the brown sugar variation. i diced up and threw in some candied ginger that I had. I also decided to cut the lemon slices into smaller pieces with my kitchen shears, once macerated. Thought it might make slicing the pie a little easier. Best of all, I took a chance on a no-butter pastry crust, trying to curb the saturated fat, and it turned out great — tender and flakey. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Comment by Steve — March 16, 2009 #

  27. [...] Tigers & Strawberries » Meyer Lemon and Ginger PieMar 11, 2006 … Meyer Lemon and Ginger Pie. One of the best things about having a food blog is the people you meet. People like the nice lady in California … [...]

    Pingback by Ginger pie | Dinhgiaquamang — January 16, 2012 #

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