Lemon Cake Pie with Further Thoughts on Tuscan Bread

Lemon Cake Pie is delicious even if it was in the oven five minutes too long.

Lemon meringue pie and its lemony relatives are welcome year round at this house, and I’ll bet, elsewhere. When you all sent me lemon meringue recipes, some of you sent intriguing variations. Penny Kneeland in Burlington offered her grandmother Amelia Mannar Hill’s recipe for Lemon Cake Pie. Penny wrote that it is “delicious and easier to make” than a standard lemon meringue pie. I gave it a try this week and agree.

In baking, the filling separates slightly, leaving a pudding-like layer on the bottom, and a cakey-textured layer on top. It goes together quickly, and you don’t have to bake the pie crust in advance, and mess around with pie weights and all that. As you assemble it, take a taste of the filling, and, if you want a bit more zing, add more lemon rind.

Several of you wrote this week to say that you tried the Tuscan bread recipe or intended to do so soon. I am so pleased that you liked it. One person asked if could explain about the “sponge.” That is a term applied to a stiff-ish batter made of flour, water, and yeast that is a first step in making many traditional breads.

In past times, a sponge was the standard way to begin virtually all yeast bread processes. I always think of the sponge as a garden for growing yeast. You can also think of it as a starter for bread. Its job is to grow more yeast and begin the process of developing the gluten in the flour. Yeast feeds on the sugars in flour, and produces carbon dioxide, which is the gas that raises bread. The gluten that it develops in the flour, makes for the wonderfully chewiness of traditional breads.

Modern bread making tends to use a lot of yeast (three tablespoons is common), and often calls for sugar to feed the yeast and quickly produce the gas. This requires less time for rising, but requires more kneading to develop the gluten. Traditional bread recipes let the yeast do that work. Good flavor is the payoff.

Jill Hoyt made the bread and sent a handsome picture of her loaf. She said, “I baked it on a stone, and used the ice-cube-thrown-into-the-oven method of misting. I confess that I also added salt as I just can’t imagine it without.” She recalled a couple of times when her mother, “an excellent bread maker,” forgot to add salt to her dough, and how bland the bread tasted. She said, “We actually salted the slices of bread as we ate it to add the flavor back in.” I’ll confess to salting a couple of slices of the bread I ate, too. Jill sent a recipe for no-knead bread which I will share anon with you later.

So, now, onto the Lemon Cake Pie.

Lemon Cake Pie

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter

2 eggs, separated

Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

½ cup evaporated milk mixed with ½ cup water

Preheat the oen to 350 degrees. Prepare a nine-inch unbaked pie shell, place in refrigerator. Cream together sugar, flour and butter. Beat the egg yolks and stir into the creamed mixture. Add lemon juice and grated rind. Slowly add diluted evaporated milk. Beat the eggs whites until they are stiff and fold into the mixture. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm.

Makes one nine-inch pie.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.