Posted on February 6 2012

Tartine Baking Project: #39 Shaker Lemon Pie

I really like baking things without really knowing where the end product is going to end up, especially when I am making something for the first time. (which goes for everything I make on this blog!)  When I make something without picturing the people who will be partaking in the good there is a layer of anxiety that is removed.  As I made this pie, I pictured the sweet faces of friends that’d be digging into it at our friends’ winter bonfire, and I started sweating.  Just a little glow, not like a full-on sweat or anything.  It’s actually a very simple pie to put together – those Shakers had things figured out.  Regardless of simplicity, sometimes there are just tiny little snags in the works to really keep you on your toes.

My first hurdle: a set of crappy old knives.  These lemons needed to be sliced paper thin, as you put it all into the pie and no one wants to bite into what seems like half of a lemon.  There was a bit of sawing and mangling of the lemons even though I chilled them so they’d be easier to slice, and I used that sharpener thing too.  I don’t know, maybe someone who calls it a “sharpener thing” shouldn’t have a kitchen sheath of sharp knives.  No, I take that back.  I need better knives.

My second hurdle: uh, what kind of lemons do I have?  I really thought I’d bought Meyer lemons even though the ones I brought home were huge.  The type of lemon is important because it dictates how long the sliced lemons need to marinate in the sugar.  In a weird crunch for time, it made sense to meet in the middle of the marinating times.  It made sense at the time, but now?  Not so much.

I will say this is the best flaky tart dough I’ve whipped up yet.  I really think I did everything the same exact way, but for whatever reason it was a lot more moist than I’ve made in the past.  And, I got to use my rolling mat that easily measures the dough I’m rolling out!  No more old, gross tape measure around my food!  (It was really that gross.)

I contemplated creating some sort of footballish design, but I decided a crooked star thing was more beautiful.

The crust was golden and delicious, and there were no seeds.  At least, none that I know of, and that’s really what matters.  On the other hand, it turns out the lemons should have marinated a just a little longer, especially since they were sliced a little thicker than I would have liked… Even with all of this, the pie wasn’t bad.  It was pretty tasty, I just think I’m hyper critical of anything I create.  The whole pie was gone pretty quickly, and everyone said they liked it.  I know that it could have been better.  It’s a strange thing, making things just once with this project.  I’m a wee bit of a perfectionist, and sometimes I want a do-over.  What I’m trying to say is that while many people have cooked their way through cookbooks, who’s ever cooked through the same cookbook twice?  Come September I am going to go through the Tartine cookbook again!  Just kidding.  But I do look forward to making this again though and serving it to the same people to prove that I can make a perfect Shaker Lemon Pie.

  1. Sue says:

    Ohhhh…what a beautiful pie! That is the recipe I would have made if I’d won the cookbook…I’m just going to have to buy it! You should get royalties for all of the press you give them (and all the kitchen time, too!).

  2. Stephanie says:

    That pie looks so yummy, esp the last shot of it! Its always so much easier trying new recipes when you can just secretly toss them if they turn out to be failures!

  3. NicoleD says:

    This must be the fanciest dessert to get dressed up and go to a superbowl party! I love the golden brown top and that is the pastry mat of my OCD dreams.

  4. Jay says:

    Try a mandolin slicer. They do incredible fine slices. Even on citrus.

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