Shaker Lemon Pie

Shaker Lemon Pie

So as it turns out, we’re not done yet with the Meyer Lemons!  Marty was intrigued by this recipe in the Joy of Cooking, and when I told him I would make him any dessert he wanted for Valentine’s Day, he picked this.   Amazingly, the Boise Coop was offering Meyer Lemons produced in Idaho, from a farm in Hagerman.  Idaho’s unique geothermal resources allow producers to heat greenhouses using naturally heated geothermal water, and in a few places where the conditions are right, and on a very small scale, produce crazy things like lemons that would otherwise never grow in our snowy northern state!

So, for just $5.99 a pound, we picked up a few:

There are a couple of interesting things about this pie.  It uses the whole lemon, sliced in very thin slices.  Also it’s the only lemon pie I’ve ever eaten with a top crust, rather than meringue or something.  It was good, intensely lemony.  Joy of Cooking says that the recipe is associated with the nineteenth century Shakers, but was popular among all Americans at that time. Here’s the recipe.


Any crust recipe will do, or a bought crust, the Boise Coop sells lovely frozen ones.  We tried the Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough recommended by Joy of Cooking.  Whoa, buttery.

  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks butter (1/2 lb)
  • 1/4 c vegetable shortening like Crisco
  • 1/3 c plus 1 Tbsp.  ice water  (for a really buttery pastry crust, it’s important that everything be cold.)

Mix flour, sugar, salt in a large bowl.  Cut butter into little pieces and combine with flour using a pastry blender, 2 knives, a fork, or your hands.  Butter should be chopped into pea-sized pieces.  Work fast and don’t let the butter get warm and melty.  Add shortening and combine with pastry blender.  Drizzle water over mixture and cut in with a firm rubber spatula.  Once the balls of dough start sticking together, you’ve added enough water.  I found the recipe to be a little dry and added a few more tablespoons of water.  Divide dough in half, form into two flat disks.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.


  • 2 or 3 large lemons
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour

Grate zest from lemons.  Slice the remaining lemons paper-thin with a very sharp knife.  Combine with sugar and salt in a glass or stainless steel bowl.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2-24 hours.  The longer the lemons macerate, the better.  It should look like this:

Whisk eggs until frothy.  Whisk in melted butter and flour.  Stir lemon mixture into egg mixture and pour into prepared pie crust. Cover with top crust.  Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.  Reduce temp to 350 and bake 20 to 30 minutes more, until done.

Serve with Mint Whipped Cream:

  • 1 c whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed dried mint

Whisk until the cream whips and serve!


3 thoughts on “Shaker Lemon Pie

  1. i’m so glad you have pictures of this pie! I have a recipe for it in a book of mine, and I was so confused about the whole using-the-whole-lemon thing. Good to know I wasn’t misreading!

  2. I’m intrigued by this one too! What happens to the rind when it cooks? Does the macerating make it lose the bitter taste?

    PS. Next time include a photo of a slice of the pie so we can see how the inside of the finished product looks.

  3. The rind wasn’t really bitter, just a little chewy maybe. I think it does get overwhelmed by the sugar in the process, but it was still very lemony. Also you can grate off most of the rind if you want to and put it in as zest, though it does make it harder to slice the lemons if you take off all of the rind. We did take a picture of a slice of pie but it just wasn’t as pretty as the whole pie! The garnish lemons on top looked pretty but did nothing for the taste of the pie — made the crust a little soggy under them actually. The lemons on top hadn’t been macerated so maybe we should have used the sweet ones.

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