Lemon Chess Pie

Ten years.  I’ve been doing this for ten years.

I can’t believe it, to be honest.  I know it’s trite, but I feel like the time has both blazed past and stood nearly still.

Part of me still can’t quite fathom the fact that I’ve been doing anything other than just existing for ten years.  Wasn’t it just the other day that I got up before the sun to head out to the farm with my Pappo?  Am I not still spending weeknights climbing up on the countertop or standing on a step stool to cook with my mom?  Did I really blink for so long that trips with my Mammo to Tom’s Drug Store for chocolate ice cream and a couple of stolen creamers from her coffee have ended forever?  Have I really left home, graduated, and found my own career and my own way?

lemon chess pie 1

Life, as they say, never turns out according to the plans you’ve made for yourself.   Ten years ago, I never would’ve told you I’d be knockin’ on the door of forty, single and without children.  But you know what?  I also never would’ve told you I’d have moved back to the part of the country where I feel I belong, bought myself the cutest little house, earned a Master’s degree, gone after and gotten a job I’d described as my dream, but didn’t know existed anywhere, and paid off my grad school loan in two years.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about all the incredible people who would stick by me and help me see past the darkness when I couldn’t see for myself.

Ten years ago, I didn’t know not everyone defines love the same way.  I didn’t understand there are people out there who will do anything to keep others down so they don’t have to confront their own shortcomings.  But I also didn’t realize just how beautiful and empowering it is to look at a room full of people who love you, support you, and celebrate you, even when they know your deepest secrets, fears, and flaws.  I didn’t know how much more important it is to be one of those people.

lemon chess pie 2

So here’s to maturity, to growth, to truth, to peace, and to power.  Let’s celebrate with a slice of silky smooth lemon chess pie.  It’s tart and it’s sweet and it’s reminiscent of the second recipe I ever blogged–a lemon bundt cake made with lemons from one of my mom’s ever-bountiful lemon trees.  I couldn’t make this pie with her lemons–we live too many states apart for that now.  But without her, my first and most important kitchen teacher, I wouldn’t have found my love of cooking, my confidence, or my love of self at all.

Ten years later is a good place to be, y’all.  Thank you for being a part of it.

lemon chess pie 3

Silky, rich lemon custard combines with mouthwatering, flaky all-butter pie crust in this lemon chess pie.  Share a slice with those you love to celebrate simply being together.   

Lemon Chess Pie
from Food52; pie crust adapted

1/2 recipe perfect pie crust (make the full recipe and freeze the other half for pie emergencies)
zest of 1 lemon
1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 TBSP stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
5 large eggs
2/3 c. heavy cream
7 TBSP fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
3 TBSP fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


To blind bake the crust:
1.  Preheat the oven to 425° F with a rack in the lower-middle position.

2.  Roll out the pie dough and fit into an extra-deep pie plate.  Trim, leaving the slightest overhang, if possible.  Crimp, if desired.  Cover the dough in the pie plate with parchment paper, fitting it snugly to the sides, and fill with dried beans or pie weights.  If cutting decorative elements for the outer edge, do so from the dough remnants and set aside.

3.  Bake until the edges are light golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and lift the pie weights out by grasping the corners of the parchment paper.  Be mindful of where you set the pie weights, they will be hot!  Return the pie crust to the oven, uncovered, and bake 5 minutes more until the bottom no longer looks wet.

To make the pie:
4.  Lower the oven heat to 325° F and move the rack to the middle position.  Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

5.  In a large bowl, stir together the lemon zest, sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt.  If using a stand mixer for this recipe, do this step in the bowl of your mixer.

6.  Stir in the melted butter.  Add in eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Mix briskly Until the filling is thick and light in color.  Stir in the heavy cream, followed by the lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla extract.

7.  Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell, if possible.  Add decorative pie crust elements to the edge, if desired.  Bake 45-50 minutes, rotating when the edges begin to set, about 35 minutes through baking.  The pie is finished when it is lightly golden on top and the edges are set and puffed slightly at the center.  The center will be liquidy, but will still wobble slightly.  If more time is needed, add on it short intervals as overbaking can case the pie to separate.

8.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  The pie will keep at room temperature for one day or in the refrigerator for two days.

Yield: 8-12 servings

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  1. Bridget
    January 24, 2018 / 6:08 pm

    Oh man, you've got me all teary. Gorgeous pie crust too!

  2. Kelsey
    January 24, 2018 / 6:35 pm

    Bridget, thank you for being such a great support, sounding board, and source of delicious recipes. Can you believe it's been TEN YEARS?

  3. Courtney
    January 24, 2018 / 6:55 pm

    Ah, this totally made me tear up. You are such an amazing human, Kelsey, and I feel so happy to know you and to have your kind words in my mind and heart. This pie is stunning, and that crust looks perfect. Here's to hoping we can have a slice together one day.

  4. Kim
    January 25, 2018 / 3:18 pm

    Funny how God never takes us where we plan but where he knows is best for us – and it is so much better than what we probably planned for ourselves. When you are ready to discuss the children part, you let me know. I still have a feeling this is part of God's plan for you, should you want it to be. Love to you from MN!

  5. L.
    January 29, 2018 / 1:26 am

    Congrats on 10 years! You were the first food blog I ever followed, and the one I keep coming back too. I've loved reading about your journey.

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