Then a spongy cakey layer.
Then a gooey lemony layer.
And crust too.
Here is the original recipe, as written in my Grandma’s Cookbook:
Line a pie pan with crust. Take butter the size of a walnut, cream with 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon flour. Separate 2 eggs. Beat yolks and add to dry ingredients. Add 1 cup sweet milk and stir up well. Grate the rind of a lemon, add juice of 1 lemon, stir into liquid. Lightly fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into crust and bake in a moderate oven. Bake until nicely brown on top and fluffed up.
Needless to say, this pie never comes out quite the same. Each time I make it, I try to figure out what I did right or what I did wrong, hoping it will come out better the next time.
Once I used too moderate of an oven, or maybe just didn’t let it cook long enough. I brought it to my friend Jenn becuase I know she likes lemon treats… and sadly when we cut through the cake layer, the rest of the pie oozed all over the place. It was still totally edible, we just needed spoons instead of forks 😐 Now I know, “moderate” is your basic 350 degree oven.
The part of the recipe my family always jokes about it the butter measurement: the size of a walnut. Not that it is an exact science… but what kind of walnut are we talking about?! Surely walnuts 100 years ago were smaller than the walnuts of today. We’ve come to the agreement that a tablespoon is about the right amount of butter 😀
And what to do with the egg whites? Beat them of course, but how long? I like beating them by hand with my big balloon wisk (my arms could use the exercise, and this pie has been made long before the electric mixers were an option anyway, so it can be done!). It’s probably easier to eyeball how stiff the whites are getting when you do it by hand too, I let them get to a stiff peak stage. It’s the folding in part that always makes me nervous. They make it look so easy on TV… I try my best to fold and not stir, and have accepted the fact the filling will look a bit lumpy.
This time, the pie did get “nicely brown,” hooray! Seems the pie needs about 45 minutes in the moderate oven. It is puffy looking when it comes out of the oven… and then un-puffs a little as it cools. Sometimes is pulls away from the side crust as it unpuffs, which makes me sad. But mom says that happened to Grandma when she cooked it too.
Whenever we get lemons from the neighbors, it’s almost a given that a Lemon Cake Pie is in the near future. So bright, delicious and, once you navigate through the recipe, comes together pretty easily (especially if you cheat and use a store bought crust… shhhh).
I definitely encourage you to try this recipe. If you do, let me know how it turns out!