Eat this Pie Today

It’s Pi Day! So make this delicious dessert from Kate McDermott’s book the ‘Art of the Pie’—no complex athematic required.

Courtesy Andrew Scrivani

America is a nation of pie eaters. From apple to cherry to peach to pumpkin, seemingly there’s a pie for every holiday and occasion.

And now there is a pie day of sorts—a pi day that is. As you may remember from high school math class the first three digits of pi is 3.14 and, of course, today is March, 14, A.K.A. 3.14. While it may seem a bit contrived, any excuse to have a slice is fine by me.  

The only question left is what kind of pie should you have? So I naturally turned to Kate McDermott’s beautifully illustrated book, Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life, for some inspiration. While you could certainly make a pecan pie or buy canned fruit fillings, there’s a handy chart in her book showing what fruits are season. To be honest, mid-summer might be a better time for a pie celebration, but one of the few things in season now are lemons.

McDermott, of course, has a tasty recipe for Shaker Lemon Pie. “If bright lemon marmalade makes your mouth sing, this pie is for you,” she writes in her book. “There are only four ingredients in the filling, and the instructions are so easy that after making it once, you’ll probably be able to make it again without needing to refer to the recipe. The whole lemon, rind and all, is sliced very finely and used.”

She suggests using Meyer lemons, “but any fresh thin-skinned lemon will do. I’ve made this pie open face and also with a full top. Bake time is the same for both. A scoop of vanilla ice cream or some homemade crème fraîche is very good with this pie.” Happy Pi Day!

Shaker Lemon Pie

Created by Kate McDermott


  • 2 or 3 Lemons
  • 2 cups (400 grams) Sugar
  • 4 Eggs, fork beaten well
  • tiny pinch Salt
  • 1 Single-crust pie dough*


Slice the lemons as thin as possible—the thinner the better. If you are comfortable using a mandolin, this is a good time to use it, but please watch your fingers!

Place the thin slices of lemon and their juices in a bowl with sugar. Mix with a spoon and let them sit overnight or at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to make your pie, preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

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Take the lemons and sugar out of the fridge and add the beaten eggs and the salt, and mix well.

Roll out the dough and place it in a pie pan, then pour in the filling.

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375°F (190°C) for about 25 minutes more, but check it at 20 minutes. The pie is done when a knife inserted comes out clean.

Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie or four 5-inch mini-pies

*Traditional Art of the Pie All-Butter Dough


  • 2.5 cups (363 grams) All-purpose flour, unbleached
  • .5 tsp (3 grams) Salt
  • 14 Tbsp (196 grams) Salted or unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • .5 cup (118 grams) Ice water + 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) more as needed
  • Additional flour for rolling out dough


Put all ingredients but the ice water in a large bowl.

With clean hands, quickly smoosh the mixture together, or use a pastry blender with an up and down motion, until the ingredients look like cracker crumbs with lumps the size of peas and almonds. These lumps will make your crust flaky.

Sprinkle ice water over the mixture and stir lightly with a fork.

Squeeze a handful of dough to see if it holds together. Mix in more water as needed.

Divide the dough in half and make two chubby discs about 5 inches (12 centimeters) across.

Wrap the discs separately in plastic wrap, and chill for about an hour.

Rolling Instructions

Take out the dough discs and let them temper until they feel slightly soft to the touch and easy to roll out. Unwrap one disc and place it on a well-floured board, pastry cloth, parchment paper, or plastic wrap.

Sprinkle some flour onto the top of the disc. Thump the disc with your rolling pin several times. Turn it over and thump the other side.

Sprinkle more flour onto the top of the dough as needed to keep the pin from sticking, and roll the crust out from the center in all directions.

When the dough is 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 centimeters) larger than your pie pan, brush off the extra flour on both sides.

Fold the dough over the top of the pin and lay it in the pie pan carefully.

Don’t worry if the crust needs to be patched together. Paint a little water where it needs to be patched and “glue” on the patch piece.

Put the filling in the pie and repeat the process with the other disc.

Excerpted from ART OF THE PIE by Kate McDermott. Photos by Andrew Scrivani. Copyright © 2016. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.