Lemon Chess Pie

I kept seeing this lemon chess pie appear on Pinterest. Versions with Meyer Lemons and posts about people trying it at the actual bakery, etc., etc. I guess I was tempted one to many times… because we made it.  Lemon Chess Pie has a special place in my heart – it was the first pie I ever made my husband and it was a flavor I’d never made before. This was more than nine years ago, so we’ve made a few since then.

Despite my history, I decided to stick to the recipe and do a series called Cook the Book – which will embrace just that. Testing recipes right out of the book.  This is a big step for me, because if you know me I’m all about altering, substituting, and personalizing recipes. I can’t help it Mema raised me to cook this way: to taste, alter, omit it if you don’t like it or don’t have it ,and be creative. More than half of the week I just walk into the kitchen and open the fridge and cook. No recipes, no plans, and usually no idea what is going to happen. For us it works and so we stick with it.


I actually don’t have this cookbook – which is strange as I am a cookbook addict. I have switched to buying mostly e-books because of the space and accessibility. But, I love a hardbound book and have already ordered a copy of this one. I found this recipe on Pinterest.  It was posted by one of the pie shop owners, Emily Elsen,  here: http://food52.com/recipes/24908-lemon-chess-pie

The crust recipe is also available here: http://food52.com/recipes/24906-all-butter-crust-recipe

I still took the time to take pictures as I prepared the recipe, because I love you and I love pie.

All Butter Crust via Four & Twenty Blackbirds

ALL-BUTTER CRUST by Four & Twenty Blackbird Pie Shop
      makes one 9 – 10 inch pie crust

  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2  cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ice

Her directions, again, can be found here:  http://food52.com/recipes/24906-all-butter-crust-recipe

I was lazy, cheater-cheater pumpkin eater, or whatever you like… I used my food processor. LET ME BE CLEAR using your food processor to make pie dough is a dangerous game of roulette – you can pulse one too many times and have tough as a boot dough. So I highly recommend not cheating or being lazy and making it by hand as directed in the link, but alas here is how I made mine:

Pie Dough Part 1

To your food processor add: flour, salt, sugar – pulse to combine;
add butter pieces – pulse until combined and butter is pea-sized (some bigger bits are fine).

Pie Dough Part 2

Now to add our liquid. In a small bowl combine: ice, cold water, and apple cider vinegar.
This is a first for me – I’ve used vinegar, but never apple cider…
While pulsing, off & on, add  3 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture,
pulse a couple times until it is fully incorporated.
Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time,
using the pulse method,to mix until the dough, until it comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.
Turn dough out onto wax paper, form into a disk, and transfer to fridge to rest for 1 hour to overnight.

Pie Dough Part 3

Now time to roll that baby out on a well floured surface. It was easy to work with.

I used an old 9-Inch Pyrex Pie dish. trimmed my edges with a knife and used the scraps to make leaves.
Also, I don’t use pie weights or beans to blind bake. I just prick my dough with a fork.
Call me old-fashioned. Blind-bake that beauty while you make the filling.
Until it is starting to brown lightly.

Lemon Chess Pie


     serves 8 – 10 – recipe courtesy of Four & Twenty Blackbird Pie Book

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 2/3 cup cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 Large eggs
  • 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Filling Part 1

Time to make liquid gold.
In a medium mixing bowl combine: lemon zest, sugar, corn-meal, flour, and salt.
Whisk to combine.
Add melted butter and stir until fully incorporated.
Add eggs, mixing until incorporated after each one.

Filling Part 2

Stir the mixture until it thickens and becomes lighter in color.
Now add: cream, lemon & orange juice – fresh, yo!, and vanilla.
Stir it all in baby – time to plate up!
Now we are going to add this liquid gold to our blind baked shell,
but via a strainer – to take out any clumpy bits and give it amazing consistency!

Pie Dough Part 4

For me this meant time to embellish my edge. I used the scraps, some mini cutters,
a small tool to add some details, and egg wash to attach them.


TIME TO BAKE – YEAH! Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. Mine took 46 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack (this part is torture) for 3-4 hours or until completely cooled.
The pie cooled and we obviously waited till we took pictures… ha ha! See below, oops.

Lemon Chess Pie

This pie is creamy – it honestly has the smoothest texture of any chess pie I’ve ever had.
I would have like a little more lemon punch and would probably add zest after straining next time.
I wondered about the crust – will the apple cider come through? Oddly enough there is something there.
A lovely tang and it’s very flaky.


Though we really loved this pie, it wasn’t the sweet lemon chess that we are used to.
My old-school recipe is more of a southern standard; with more cornmeal, more sugar, less eggs, and it uses buttermilk.
If you too find that this wasn’t as sweet as you hoped here are two ways to pep it up:

Classic: Powdered Sugar
Lemon Chess Pie

Our Favorite ❤ – Creme Brulee of Lemon Chess Pie

Crème Brûlée of Lemon Chess Pie

Mix one teaspoon of sugar with one packet (or equal part) raw turbinado sugar.
Sprinkle a even layer atop your lemon chess pie.
Burn, baby, burn – with a kitchen safe torch, of course.
This method might become a pie standard around our house.

Crème Brûlée of Lemon Chess Pie
It added a sweet and super crunchy layer to the top,
which only complimented the super creamy custard of the chess pie.
It wasn’t an overly sweet addition and it was fun.

If nothing else I hope you try brulee-ing a piece of pie.
Happy Baking, Apronclad

Special thanks to Emily Elsen for sharing a page from her cookbook on Food52.com

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