Sweet and sour

It’s the end of summer, which means I’ve spent the last few days frantically throwing all my belongings into boxes, suitcases, and random containers and then emptying them out again in my small dorm room at my small college in that small town. The end of summer and the start of a school year is always bittersweet for me, kind of like the Lemon Chess Pie.

The Lemon Chess Pie is extremely sweet with enough sour citrus from the lemon to make it into a delightful pie that offers just the right combo of sweet and sour. The only part that puzzled me about this pie was the name. What is a chess pie, exactly? My first thought was that the pie would look like a chess board, which would be amazing. However, it turns out that chess pies are defined as “a dessert of cornmeal, sugar, butter, egg yolks, milk, and flavorings baked in a pastry shell” according to Dictionary.com, and is a staple of the South. Simple, yet divine.

I decided to make the Lemon Chess Pie because lemon always reminds me of summer- and we happened to have two lemons in the fridge. I’ve used lemon juice before (remember the Lemon Meringue? ) but one problem still remains: the seeds. Every time I squeeze lemon juice, some of the seeds slip through the strainer, causing me unnecessary stress and worry. Only a few seeds slipped in this time, the pesky little things.

Once the lemon juice was squeezed and ready to go, I started on the filling. It’s almost unbelievably easy, and the whole filling took me probably less than ten minutes to make (which is a rare thing in the pie-making world!). I melted the butter, then stirred in the sugar, added the cornmeal, then the lemon juice.

Why cornmeal? I don’t know about you, but my relationship with cornmeal is pretty limited to the dinner table. I’ll put it on a pizza pan, but I wasn’t crazy about baking it into a pie. It turns out that cornmeal (a.k.a. corn flour if it’s finely ground) is an essential part of making a chess pie. It is the key ingredient to making the pie filling nice and thick.

Throughout this pie-making journey, I’ve alternated between vinegar pie crust and the classic pie crust. This time I decided to try the classic crust again, even though it tends to give me more grief than the trusty vinegar version. I’ve taken to refrigerating every pie crust before I roll it out (I usually make the dough the night before I make the actual pie), which has made the crust a lot more dependable…although there are still times when the crust just won’t turn out, despite my best efforts.

The filling went into the crust, and was baked for 40ish minutes until it turned golden brown.

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The lemon filling was wonderful. I could have eaten it for days! The only problem was the crust, which was rock hard. I’ll admit that it was probably due to the fact that I played Mario Kart instead of watching the pie as it baked, so it got a little fried in the oven. Oh well. I think my bronze medal in Mario Kart racing was worth it.

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