If it weren’t for walk-in freezers and the state of California, we wouldn’t have decent fruit this time of year. I like to honor this out-of-season season by making lemon pies. Lemon is never in season in Washington; in my book, that makes it seasonless. My favorite is a Shaker Lemon Pie recipe from the New York Times Dessert Cookbook. A little secret for summer, should you choose to make this then: this is the only pie I’d ever suggest freezing after it’s been baked. The freezer ruins the crust, sure, but creates an entirely different dessert—something like frozen lemonade in pillow-soft pastry.
Shaker Lemon Pie
1 double crust pie recipe (use your favorite or learn a new one at Pie School)
2 large lemons (Meyer lemons work best; the thinner-skinned the better)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
egg white wash or milk
sugar for dusting
Wash lemons and slice in half lengthwise, keeping the peel on. Rest the flat surface on a cutting board and cut the lemon as thin as you can into half-moon slices. Remove seeds as you go. Some people use a mandoline for this job. I like my fingertips too much, so I use a super-sharp chef’s knife.
In a medium bowl, pour two cups of sugar over the lemons and let sit overnight. This is important. If you use the lemons too soon, they won’t be nearly sweet enough. After the first hour, stir them once. After that, stir very little.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the bottom crust, place it in the pie pan, and refrigerate it while you mix the filling.
In a small bowl, beat four eggs well. Add them and the salt to the lemon and sugar and mix gently until combined.
Roll out the top crust. Pour the filling into the bottom crust, then cover with the top crust, crimp an upstanding edge and cut vents. The top crust will wobble a bit, like a duvet on a waterbed. Some of the lemon filing may peek through the vents. That’s just fine. Brush with egg white wash or milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on 450 for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pie front to back halfway through baking for even browning. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or room temperature.