This Lemon Chess Pie recipe is a tangy, rich custard with clear notes of zesty lemon in a flakey, all-butter crust. Serve with coffee, just like my grandmother used to like.
This Lemon Chess Pie recipe was a first for me. I made in in honor of my grandmother whom absolutely loved all lemon desserts, especially pies.
A chess pie is a simple custard set in a pastry crust. This one is flavored with lemon for a vibrant flavor. The custard is thickened with flour and cornmeal.
The lemon chess pie crust is a par-baked, all-butter recipe.
To be honest, I was not satisfied with the shrunken edges of my partially baked shell. So I added the braided trim between bakes. Not only did it add a decorative element, the braid stayed a nicely toasted color, instead of burning from being baked twice.
Basically a happy accident, if you will.
The custard comes together incredibly easy, but the real trick is knowing how long to bake it. The custard continues to cook as it cools. In other words, if everything is completely set when you take it out of the oven, you probably went too far.
The clues to look for are puffed-up edges as well as a wobbly center.
Lastly, serve this lemon chess pie recipe with black coffee like my grandmother would drink from the moment she woke until the moment she went to bed.
Lemon Chess Pie
Single All-Butter Crust
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter cold, cut into ½ inch pieces
- ½ cup cold water
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 ⅔ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 5 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 5 large eggs
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 10 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from 3 to 4 lemons
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Single All-Butter Crust
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar. Place the ice in the water and set aside.
- Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms. Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.
- Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar. Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl. The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky. Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed. Do not over-mix.
- Shape the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).
- Once ready, bring the disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll. Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter.
- Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin. Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang. Trim with kitchen sheers, crimp or press the edges to the pie plate, and place back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
- When the crust is cold, tightly line the dough with foil (making sure to cover the top edges). Fill with pie weights and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until set but not very browned. Remove the pie from the oven. Carefully lift out the foil and remove the pie weights. Completely cool before adding the filling.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingertips until fragrant. Stir in the cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir in the melted butter.
- In a separate bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs with a fork. While stirring, gradually add in the eggs to the other mixture. Continue to stir a bit until the mixture thickens.
- Stir in the heavy cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the mixture through the mesh sieve straight into the partially baked pie crust.
- Place the baking pan (with pie) into the over. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges begin to puff and set, then rotate the pie 180 degrees. Continue to bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. When done, the edges should be puffed while the center should still have some wiggle to eat (but not be liquid). The surface may be slightly browned.
- Cool at room temperate for at least 4 hours before slicing. Store at room temperature for up to 1 day, or in the refrigerator for 2 days.
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