Single-Crust Lemon Pie

Lemon Pie

Nothing beats a sweet and tart lemon curd in my book. For the unfamiliar, lemon curd is basically the lemony filling inside of a lemon meringue pie but that’s certainly not the only way you can eat it. Lemon curd is fabulous as a filling in between layers of cake. It’s great as a jam substitute with biscuits, scones, toast, muffins, etc. And in my humble opinion it’s even delicious on its own by the spoonful.

My favorite way to eat lemon curd is in a single crust pie. Sorry, no meringue. Not a fan! The flaky, buttery richness of the pie crust cuts the tartness of the lemon making for a stellar combination.

The pie crust recipe I use is adapted from Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for Foolproof Pie Dough. The original recipe calls for vodka and vegetable shortening. Since I rarely have alcohol in the house I omit the vodka, and it’s my firm belief that a little bit of lard creates the best texture in biscuits and pie crusts. I used to only use butter but the results were too hard and lacked the light flakiness I achieve with lard. Now I use a combination of butter and lard. Lard for the flaky texture and butter for the flavor.

Dough recipe for single-crust pie

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cold lard
2 tablespoons cold water

  1. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Grate the cold butter and lard into the dry ingredients. Lightly toss to combine.
  3. Add the water in small increments and mix with a spatula until the dough holds together in a ball.
  4. Shape the dough into a round disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425.
  6. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle and place into a pie plate. Tuck the overhanging edges under itself so it’s flush with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the edges and then place into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Line the pie crust with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake the crust uncovered until golden brown.

The recipe for the filling comes directly from Cooks Illustrated’s The Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Filling

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning of the process and more frequently as mixture begins to thicken. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice, and finally butter. Bring mixture to a brisk simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep hot and prevent skin from forming.

The original recipe doesn’t say to do so but I like to strain the cooked filling while it’s still hot to remove any bits of egg that may have scrambled or lumps of cornstarch. This will ensure that the filling is silky smooth.

To put the pie together, simply pour the filling into the prebaked pie crust. The filling and crust are both completely cooked at this point so there’s no need for further baking unless you’d like some extra color on your crust. Allow the pie to cool completely before serving so the filling can set.

My crust didn’t come out too great this time because I got impatient and didn’t let the pie dough chill enough before I put it into the oven. The crust ended up melting downwards and became a little misshapen as it baked. Don’t do what I did. Remember to chill the dough completely! Warped shape aside, the pie crust still tastes great!

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