It’s March! Spring will be on our doorsteps soon, and that means it’s time to prepare for a very important holiday: Pi(e) Day! Celebrated each March 14, there’s no better way to honor pi than with baked goods. So, let’s have your best Pie recipes, be they sweet or savory.
How fancy do you make your crust? Are you a fan of fruit pies, or do you opt for other, less traditional fillings? When I ran the Cake vs. Pie tournament, some voters were unfamiliar with chess pie, so I’ll kick things off with that tart little wonder.
Lemon Chess Pie
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely-grated lemon zest
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1) Make the crust: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or a couple of knives. Add the milk and vinegar, and stir with a fork, just until the dough begins to come together when a small bit is pressed between your fingers. Press the dough together to form a ball, and knead lightly. Shape into a disc, wrap in wax paper, for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
2) Preheat oven to 400° F. Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface into an 11″ circle. Transfer the dough to a pie plate, and gently press on the sides and bottom. Turn the edge under and crimp as desired. Prick the sides and bottom with a fork. Press a piece of aluminum foil snugly into the bottom and against the sides of the pastry shell and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the pie weights and foil, and cool the shell on a wire rack.
3) Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.
4) Make the filling: Process the sugar and lemon zest in a food processor until the zest is finely ground. Beat the eggs, sugar mixture, and cornmeal on medium speed just until blended. Add the lemon juice and beat again until blended. Pour in the melted butter in a fine stream while the beaters are running and beat until blended.
5) Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until just set in the center. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the pie sit for 30 minutes. Serve either warm or cold.
-1 large lemon should be enough for the zest and juice requirements.
-If you don’t have pie weights, use uncooked rice or beans.
-As a shortcut, the food processor step (#4) may be unnecessary. If the zest is already finely ground, try combining it with the sugar by hand instead.
-Can be served with whipped cream – infusing it with the leftover lemon juice/zest can add additional flavor.