Thursday, April 19, 2018


photo: slw

What sounds more easy as pie than five ingredients, a blender, and a pie shell? A Whole Lemon Pie is exactly what is sounds like. That's right you use a whole lemon - peel, pith, and all. Blend and bake and you're rewarded with a sweet and tart custard-like pie bursting with lemon flavor.

Whole Lemon Pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 lemon, medium
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 tsp salt)
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Powered sugar for dusting

NOTE: I like to take the time to macerate my lemon(s), otherwise when baked the pie may taste slightly bitter. I also use two medium lemons instead of the one the recipe calls for. To avoid a "chewy" filling I zest the lemon, trim the ends, skin the white pith, then thinly sliced the lemon, removing all seeds. Repeat with second lemon. I put the lemon slices and zest in a bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar, macerating at room temperature for at least 6 hours (or overnight). 
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. 
  2. If you didn't macerate your lemon (see above) then trim the ends of the lemon. Cut into thin slices and remove the seeds. 
  3. Add the lemon slices (or macerated lemon sugar mix), butter, salt, sugar (if you macerated the lemons, do not add more sugar), eggs, and vanilla extract into blender or food processor. Blend completely smooth and creamy. 
  4. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell. 
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top starts to turn golden. You may need to cover the edges of the pie crust if it starts to brown before the pie is done. 
  6. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before slicing. 
  7. Dust with powered sugar. 
  8. Store pie in the fridge. 
NOTE: Avoid using large lemons. They typically have a thicker pith which can make your pie too bitter. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


photo: slw

First of all, what is chess pie? You might not be familiar with it if you're not from the South. The simple filling is made from pantry staples of eggs, sugar, butter, and a small amount of flour or cornmeal (or even vinegar) to hold it together. You can change the flavor of this base filling by adding vanilla, lemon juice, nuts, spices, or even chocolate. The variations are limitless. If you're curious about the origin of the name, there's a bit of folklore around the name. Some believe the word "chess" is an Americanization of the English word "cheese," referring to English Lemon Curd pie (chess pie is a cheese-less cheesecake). Another explanation suggests that "chess" is just a drawn-out drawl for "chest," which is how the very sugary pie had to be stored to keep the flies away (pie chest). And then my favorite is the folklore a plantation cook was asked what she was baking that smelled so good, and she replied, "Jes pie." Whatever the truth, chess pie is a southern staple that must be tried by all. 

I baked chocolate chess pie that doesn't require a tablespoon of flour or cornmeal, probably because of the cocoa powder. For the crust I used the "stir and roll" Wesson oil recipe I blogged about yesterday. This is one of my favorite pies -- delicious. 

Chocolate Chess Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch fine sea salt
1 (5-ounce can) evaporated milk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. 
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the evaporated milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract, whisking well to combine. 
  3. Pour the filling into an unbaked pie shell. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is set around the edges but slightly jiggles in the center. 
  4. Cool the pie on a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. 

Monday, April 16, 2018


I've experimented with dozens of pie crust recipes over the years. My tried and true method consists of both butter (for flavor) and shortening (for flakiness) for a delicious and tender crust. However, it does take practice and a sure-hand, and even then you're not guaranteed perfect results. I've had years to refine my methods and making pie crust is second-nature to me but I was intrigued when I came across a recipe that was as simple as pour, stir, and roll. I collect old cookbooks so it wasn't the first time I'd heard of an oil-based crust but it was the first time I was tempted to try it. I didn't think it could possibly compete with traditional crust methods, but the idea of simply "stir and roll" was just too tempting to pass up. The results were mind-boggling; the crust turned out both tasty and flaky. Far from perfect there were downsides, the dough can be difficult to rollout and handle. It wasn't easy to keep in one piece as it kept breaking off. However, it was easily fixed by pressing bits of the dough into the pastry to cover holes in the pan, which you can't really do with traditional crusts, lest over-handle the dough. Also, there was the oiliness. But overall, it's an easy and quick pie crust recipe that doesn't require expensive ingredients, a lot of elbow grease, or rest period for the dough before rolling out. I'd definitely use it for single crust pie recipes.

Stir and Roll Single Pie Crust
(makes one 9" crust)
1 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt (adjusted, original recipe called for 1 tsp)
3/8 c. (1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp) Wesson Oil
3 Tbsp cold whole milk
  1. FOR PAR-BAKED CRUST: Preheat oven to 475º F, a very hot oven. 
  2. In a bowl, start by sifting the flour twice. Whisk in the salt and create a little well in the flour mixture. 
  3. Pour oil and milk into one measuring cup, but do not stir. Pour into the well of the flour mixture; mix with fork until cleans side of bowl. 
  4. Finish by gently kneading the dough together into ball, flatten slightly, and place between two pieces of wax paper. Roll out gently until circle reaches edges of paper.
  5. Peel off top paper, then pick up pastry and bottom paper by one edge (they will cling together). Place, paper-side up, over pie pan. Then loosen pastry at edges and carefully peel off paper. Ease pastry snugly into place. Finish edge as desired. 
  6. FOR PAR-BAKED CRUST: prick bottom and side thoroughly with fork. Bake on lower rack in pre-heated oven 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. 
Stir and Roll Double Pie Crust
(makes two 9" crusts)
2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (adjusted, original called for 1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 c. Wesson oil
1/4 c. cold whole milk
  1. Follow single crust directions for mixing. Round up dough. Divide in half, flatten slightly. 
  2. Roll out halves between pieces of waxed paper (as above). 
  3. Line pie pan with bottom crust, fill, cover with top crust. 
  4. Seal by pressing edges gently with fork, or fluting. 
  5. Snip 3 or 4 small slits near center.
  6. Bake pies, such as apple, in pre-heated hot oven, 425º F, for 40-45 minutes.