July 08, 2021. Dear Kids– This recipe is traditionally called “Atlantic Beach Pie”, but what drew me to it, other than the fact that it is so delicious, perfect for summer and easy to make, was the fact the crust is made with 60- count ’em 60!- saltine crackers, so I had to highlight this fun fact in my recipe title.
This pie will also serve as the second level of pie making in your journey to become a Pie Master after you achieve the first level in Cereal “Pie”. The crust in this 60 Saltines and Lemon Pie, which uses a cracker/cookie crust technique, is a step up from the crumble topping “crust” in the Cereal “Pie”, but not quite at the level or complication of a pastry pie crust.
In spite of the fact that this pie originated in the coastal seafood shacks of North Carolina and was made famous by North Carolina chef, Bill Smith, I traditionally make it when we are in Maine- hence the wild blueberry sauce. So, no matter where you are, enjoy this summer time pie classic!
Prep Time: 20 minutes (3-4 hours of inactive time, total, for crust and filling to set)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
GET YOUR STUFF OUT
- 1 ½-2 sleeves saltine crackers (about 60 crackers/7 ounces/200 grams)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), cut into 1/2 inch cubes and softened at room temperature
- 4 egg yolks
- 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3, room temperature, large lemons)
- Pinch or two of kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- lemon or lime zest and flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)
Wild Blueberry Sauce (optional)
- 2 1/2 cups wild blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/4-1/3 granulated sugar
- a squeeze of juice from a lemon wedge
COOK AND PLAY
There are so many great summer songs to play- check out Rolling Stone’s Best Summer Songs of All Time– why not get started with #37 “Rock Lobster”, by the B-52s, while you get your pie started. Click here for the Official Dad’s Dinner Diary Cook and Playlist!
Note- you can use a food processor with blade to finely crush the crackers in Step 1 and blend crackers with sugar and butter in Step 2, but Dads, and many others, don’t really like having extra dishes if they can be avoided.
1. Crumby Crackers. Set up middle oven rack and heat oven to 350 degrees. Over a large bowl, crush crackers in their sleeves, opening the top of the sleeve and crushing crackers with your hands from top to bottom, until the crackers in the sleeve are reduce to fine pieces but not to dust. Pour crushed crackers in the bowl, using your clean hands to crush further if necessary.
2. Crust Time. Stir sugar into cracker crumbs, add butter and work butter evenly throughout cracker mix, with your impeccably clean hands, until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press crumb mix evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Freeze for 15 minutes, then bake until the crust gets golden brown- about 15 minutes. Set crust on wire rake to cool and leave oven at 350 to cook pie in Step 4.
3. Filling Station. While the crust is cooling, get a medium bowl out and add yolks and condensed milk into bowl, whisking to blend completely. Then completely whisk in lemon juice and salt.
4. Bake and Chill. Pour lemon filling into pie crust (It’s OK if crust is still a bit warm), and bake until the filling has set- about 15 minutes. If you’re interested in the blueberry sauce, now would be a good time to make it (See Step 6 below). Let cooked pie cool a bit, then cover and refrigerate until filling is completely cold- at least 3-4 hours.
5. Soft Peaks. Just before serving, whip cream and sugar in chilled medium bowl with whisk/electric mixer until soft peaks form. Cover pie artistically with whipped cream and, if desired, lemon and/or lime zest and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. If you make Wild Blueberry Sauce below, serve it at room temperature on the side. Leftover pie can be covered and kept in the refrigerated for a few days.
6. Feeling Blue-berries. If you opt to make the sauce, add 1 1/2 cups of blueberries (the remaining cup will be added later), 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice to medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Stir from time to time, smooshing up berries, and reduce until syrupy- you see slow, large bubbles forming- about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining blueberries and cool a spoonful of sauce, so it’s safe to taste, and then taste it and add more sugar if you think it needs more- simmering until added sugar dissolves. This sauce can be made ahead, cooled (the sauce thickens as it cools) and stored in the refrigerator for several days.
Pick Your “Cracker”, Pick Your Citrus. The crust can go in many directions, if you don’t appreciate the ingenuity of the Saltine Crust in the original recipe- use graham crackers, vanilla wafers, shortbread cookies, animal crackers or any cookie type crust you think works well with lemon. As for the filling, there’s no reason you couldn’t swap out the lemon juice, for lime (think Key Lime Pie) or any other citrus juice, keeping in mind the sweetness of the juice, if you wanted to go in a different direction.
What To So With Your Egg Whites? Last, but not least, the topping almost begs to be a meringue, since you’ll have 4 leftover egg whites from the filling, but I prefer whipped cream since it’s much easier to make- I use the egg whites for an omelette or breakfast sandwich. If you prefer a meringue, good for you!
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