Happy Pi(e) Day, loves! It’s the one food holiday that I celebrate without exception because 1. pie, 2. math! and 3. I had the world’s best calculus teacher, Mr. Strawn, who got me excited about things such as pi with his unparalleled (wink, wink) enthusiasm and excellent teaching skills. This year after much thought, I decided on something lemony to mark the occasion. My reasons were vague and disconnected but in various parts due to Andrew loving all lemon desserts, being more than ready for spring after the taste of warm weather we have had recently, and of course, Beyonce. The idea of a lemon cream pie came to mind, and it just made good sense to pair it with the gorgeous berries that by some miracle, Caroline had not yet devoured. Strawberry lemon cream pie it was.

It’s taken me years to love lemon, and though I will never choose it over chocolate, I finally understand why so many people love it the way they do. That sweet-tart balance in lemon desserts is somewhat irresistible. Traditional citrus curd preparations are both too intense and too eggy for my taste, so my desire for something light and airy led to this final concoction. This pie was everything I was hoping for – pretty, lemony, and light (in texture, not calories). I can already see this being a perfect Mother’s Day treat. How are you celebrating Pi Day?

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1¼ cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. (25 grams) sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 2 oz. (55 grams) cream cheese, softened but still cool

For the lemon cream:* 

  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. (155 ml.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) granulated sugar
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cool

For the filling: 

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. (12.5 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup lemon cream (above)
  • ¾ cup (175 ml) heavy cream, very cold

To finish: 

  • ½ cup (88 ml) heavy cream, cold
  • 1 tbsp. ( grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • Additional strawberries, for garnish

Directions

  • 01

    To make the pie crust, lightly oil a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the dry ingredients on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 20 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until large clumps of dough begin to form, about 30 seconds.

  • 02

    Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a 6-inch disc.  Transfer to the pie plate.  Using the heel of your hand, gently press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pie plate.  Using your fingertips, continue working the dough evenly until it covers the sides and bottom of the pie plate completely. Use your fingertips to mold a fluted edge. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

  • 03

    Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Prick the bottom of the crust evenly with the tines of a fork.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, 35-40 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 04

    To make the lemon cream, bring 2-3 inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Set a heatproof bowl over the water without touching it to create a double boiler. In a non-reactive bowl, combine the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt. Whisk together. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and reaches 180 ˚ F on an instant-read thermometer (approximately 10-12 minutes.) Remove the bowl from the heat. Cut the butter into tablespoons. Add the cream to a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender in the bowl containing the cream. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, blending or processing each addition until fully incorporated. Transfer to an airtight container and chill before using.

  • 05

    To fill the pie, combine the strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss well to combine, then set aside. Let stand for 20-30 minutes to draw out some of the juices. Spread the sliced berries over the bottom of the pie shell. In a medium bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Use a spatula to fold 1 cup of the lemon cream into the whipped cream until evenly combined and no streaks remain. Spread the lemon mixture over the sliced berries in the pie shell. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill and set.

  • 06

    To finish, whip the remaining cream with the confectioners’ sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. Transfer to a pastry bag with a decorative tip and pipe a border around the edge of the pie. Garnish with additional fresh berries as desired.

  • 07

    Note: 

    • This recipe makes more lemon cream than you will need for a single pie. It isn’t easily halved given the odd numbers of eggs and the single egg yolk. Though this frustrated me initially, I was singing a completely different tune once I tasted the lemon cream. It would be delicious swirled into yogurt with fresh berries, atop vanilla ice cream, perfect for dipping fruit or cookies, and I’m sure there are many other uses I am not thinking of. Make the full batch. You’ll be glad for the left overs.

Source

  • Liz N.

    The next time my mom ships me a box of her Meyer lemons, I’m going to make this pie. This recipe reminds me of home because of the lemons and that my hometown is the home of the California Strawberry Festival! This will be the perfect Easter dessert this year. Happy Pi-Day!

  • Annie

    Great idea! And by the way, thanks to both you and her for the box you sent my way a couple of months ago! I was definitely still in my post-election and post-holiday daze and never mustered the energy to send proper thanks but rest assured they were very much appreciated and enjoyed! xoxo

  • Erika Robinson

    This is happening tonight. Although i really want to make the crack pie, I highly doubt my ability to find the corn locally. But this sounds unbelievably amazing and just the thing to pull me out of this weather/political/graduate school funk.

  • Natalie Stachon

    While shopping online for some spring tennis shoes I found these and knew I had to share them with you :)

    http://www.keds.com/en/women-ourcollections-riflepaperco/

  • kellyp19

    Oh my gosh – I’ve never had someone so accurately describe my feelings around lemon desserts. I identify with everything you said: curd is too much, light/airy is the way, will never choose over chocolate. I will try making this though! Thanks!

  • Jodie D

    Did anyone make this? I’m a bit confused with the directions to make the lemon cream from the point of cutting the butter into tablespoons. You add butter to the heavy cream? Beating the butter with the cream? I’ve never heard of mixing cold butter with cream. Is it then mixed in with the lemon filling? There also isn’t an amount of cream listing for the lemon cream – only the filling. Is this an error? Should only the butter be added to the lemon cream, then the cream beaten for the filling? Any suggestions?

  • Annie

    This is not an error, but I will adjust the wording to make it more clear. The butter is mixed into the lemon cream after the base is made and thickened. Many pastry creams and curds have cold butter mixed in a tablespoon at a time after the base of the mixture is made. This is a fairly common technique. Hopefully that makes more sense.