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Celebrate Kumquat Season With a Tangy, Never-Bitter Pie

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Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature—this one comes from longtime Food52er hardlikearmour.

While we continue the slog through dreary, grey winter, there’s at least one bright spot to cut through the chill: citrus season. Between sweet, golden Meyer lemons, tart tangerines, and slightly berry-flavored blood oranges, there are so many varieties and dishes to choose from. And what better way to celebrate citrus than a pie?

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Shaker pie, also known as Ohio Lemon Pie, is a Midwest classic that frugally uses the whole lemon. The zest and slices macerate in sugar for up to 24 hours, then get combined with eggs, melted butter, and flour to create a hybrid marmalade-lemon curd filling.

Community member hardlikearmour thought the pie sounded lovely, and gave it a try. However, the reality didn’t live up to the hype.

"The pith from the lemons imparts an overwhelming bitterness, and even when the lemons are sliced exquisitely thin, they have a tough and stringy texture,” she says. “I tried several different variations on the theme with varying degrees of disappointment—too bitter, too sweet, not citrusy enough....”

The Shaker pie dreams are made of.
The Shaker pie dreams are made of. Photo by Julia Gartland

Instead, hardlikearmour decided to ditch the lemons and experiment with another winter favorite: kumquats. In testing the recipe, fiveandspice found it to be a perfect balance of sugar and acidity:

What you get is something in the same family as a lemon meringue or key lime pie, but with the dimmer switch thrown all the way up so that the gorgeous, super-saturated, sweet-tart citrus nature radiates brightly forth.

Fair warning, the tangy dessert requires a bit of effort. Carefully seeding and thinly slicing through a carton of kumquats is an exercise in mindfulness, so make a playlist of your favorite songs or podcasts. You'll be rewarded with a just-right sweet and tart pie.

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Kumquat Shaker Pie

3639eee1 5e0d 4861 b1ed 149bd0559f64  gator cake hardlikearmour
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Makes a 9-inch pie
  • 6 ounces kumquats
  • 1 large lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (divided)
  • 4 large eggs (divided)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • your favorite double-crust pie dough (I used the Foolproof Pie Dough recipe from Cook's Illustrated)
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What's your favorite kumquat recipe? Any other citrus season favorites? Share below!

Tags: citrus season, kumquat, shaker pie