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Meyer Lemon Chess Pie

yield: 1 (9-inch) pie

Special Equipment

  • a pastry blender
  • pie weights
  • a pastry brush


For the All-Butter Pie Crust

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon of water

For the Meyer Lemon Custard Filling

  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 7 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (I used about a pound of Meyer lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the All-Butter Pie Crust

  • Prepare 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter by cutting it into 1-inch cubes. Place cubes in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap before sticking in the coldest part of your freezer for 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
  • Add the frozen butter cubes (from the 1st step) and coat with the flour mixture using a rubber spatula.
  • Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain — a few larger pieces are okay, but be careful not to over blend.
  • Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup ice and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a liquid measuring measuring cup.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, stirring the water into the mixture with a rubber spatula until it is fully incorporated.
  • Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the rubber spatula to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining — be careful not to use too much water, or the bottom of your pie will be soggy.
  • Use your fingertips to squeeze and pinch bring all the dough together to combine. Use a couple drops of water here and there, but be careful not to use too much.
  • Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

To Blind Bake the Crust

  • When your dough has rested and chilled (for at least an hour, preferably overnight), it should have the consistency of saltwater taffy. The dough is then ready to be rolled. Liberally sprinkle a work surface with flour — I used around 1/4 cup's worth. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface, sprinkling its top with flour. If the dough is too hard, let it rest for a few more minutes. If the dough seems too sticky, place it back in the fridge to chill for another hour or so. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure, from the center out to create a circle. Roll the dough about 10 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick — you can place your pie plate upside down over the rolled out dough to see if the dough is big enough.
  • Move the dough onto the pie plate by placing a piece of wax or parchment paper over the rolled out dough, and folding it in half, before placing another piece of parchment paper over the half and folding it into quarters. Move the folded up dough onto the plate and unfold it. When the dough is in the plate, press it firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to rest for another 30 minutes.
  • Once the pie shell is fully chilled, use a fork to prick the bottom and sides of the shell – these holes help eliminate the air bubbles that can form when the dough is exposed to heat and helps prevent the shell from shrinking. Place crust in the freezer to freeze for another 10 minutes.
  • While the crust is freezing, preheat the oven to 425 (F) and position the oven racks in the bottom and center positions of the oven. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack.
  • When the crust is frozen, line it tightly with a piece of aluminum foil. If creating scalloped edges (see baker's notes), make sure the scallops are completely covered and there are no gaps between the foil and crust.
  • Pour the pie weights into the pie over the aluminum foil, making sure to spread them so they are more concentrated around the edge of the shell than the center. Place the pan on the preheated baking sheet on the lowest rack and bake for 20 minutes, until the edges of the pie are set but not browned.
  • Remove the pan and the baking sheet from the oven, but keep the oven on. Lift out the foil and pie weights. Allow the crust to cool for 1 minute.
  • While the crust is cooling, make an egg wash by whisking together 1 large egg white and 1 teaspoon of water.
  • Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of egg wash to moisture-proof the crust. Return the pie pan to the baking sheet and place in the oven's center rack, baking for 3 more minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

For the Meyer Lemon Custard Filling

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 (F). Place the prebaked pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • In large bowl, whisk together 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cornmeal, 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the zest from 1 Meyer lemon until combined
  • Use a heatproof rubber spatula to stir in 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, then 5 eggs, adding the next egg only after the one before it has been fully incorporated into the mixture.
  • Once all the eggs are added, whisk briskly until the filling is thick and light colored. Stir in 2/3 cups heavy cream, followed by 7 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, 3 tablespoons orange juice, and 1/2 vanilla extract.
  • Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, 30 to 35 minutes through baking. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still wobbles slightly; it should be lightly golden on top. Be careful not to overbake or the custard can separate; the filling will continue to cook and set as it cools.
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 3 to 4 hours. Slice and serve. The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days or at room temperature for 1 day.