Shaker Lemon Tart

From Ode to an Orange Peel: a story about how Chef Siew-Chinn Chin makes and uses citrus peels in her kitchen.



It’s no surprise that Siew-Chinn Chin appreciates this tart, which originates from the 19th-century Ohio Shaker community, where cooks were well known and respected for their baking skills. Shaker beliefs dictated that nothing be wasted, and indeed, every part of the lemon is used in the pie. This West Coast version uses Meyer lemons.

  • 4 Meyer lemons
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling
  • One recipe for Chez Panisse Crunch Tart Dough (below)

Wash and slice lemons paper thin. Place them in a bowl and mix with the 2 cups sugar. Cover and let macerate for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Beat eggs thoroughly with a pinch of salt and set aside.

Prepare dough and line tart pan as described in the dough recipe below. Spread macerated lemon slices evenly with the syrupy juice on top of the dough. Pour beaten eggs onto the lemon filling and stir gently so that the eggs are mixed in with the syrup, but without disturbing the lemon slices on the bottom.

Wet the edges of the dough in the pan and top with the second circle of dough, trimming to leave some overhang, which you can fold under the edge of the lower shell, sealing and fluting the edges together. Generously brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Then turn oven temperature down to 375° and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until shell is lightly browned. Let cool completely before slicing.

Makes one 9-inch tart

Chez Panisse Crunch Tart Dough

This dough is worked differently than most traditional piecrust recipes you’ll find. The result is very crunchy and has layered sheets as opposed to flakes. The recipe yields the proper amount of dough for the Shaker Lemon Tart

  • 6 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup ice water

Cut butter into ½-inch cubes and let soften at room temperature for about 10 minutes or until it feels slightly soft.

Add flour, sugar, and salt to butter and mix quickly by hand to separate the butter cubes. Press each cube with your fingers to make coin-sized pieces. Drizzle about 6 tablespoons of the cold water into the mixture and mix quickly by hand. Now you will have large chunks of wet dough and bits of dry dough. Pull apart the wet chunks and mix into the dry bits. Do this several times until the chunks and bits are evenly mixed. Sprinkle in more water if the mixture feels dry. The finished dough should look marbled with butter.

Gather and divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place each portion in plastic wrap and squeeze it several times to work the dough and make it hold together. (The plastic wrap keeps your hands from touching the dough.) Unwrap, reshape the dough into a ball, flatten it into a 4- to 5-inch diameter disc and rewrap in plastic. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using. Roll dough until it forms a round approximately ⅛-inch thick and about 2 inches larger than the tart pan. (Dough can be frozen and kept for a long time.)

When you’re ready to use the dough, line a 9-inch pie pan or fluted tart pan with the rolled out tart dough, and press the dough firmly into the pan without stretching or tearing the dough. Roll out the second disc to a similar size, make some decorative slits in the middle and let sit while you make the filling.

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