Recipes for Life

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Lemon Sour Cream Pie

Lemon Sour Cream Pie

This bright lemon custard pie has a silky filling and rich ginger cookie crumb crust. Here it is garnished with heat stabilized cream cheese, fresh raspberries and sugared lemon peel.

My niece and I spent two days co-creating/inventing this pie to enter into the open class pie contest at the local fair. 

During our baking endeavor, certain tasks were split into mini kitchen missions. 

Ashley was assigned Operation Squeeze and Zest which had to be scratched for the more appropriately ordered Operation Zest and Squeeze. Aly's Operation Custard was a flawless success (after the lemon juice was finally squeezed, of course!).

Aly also expertly executed Mission Dry Ingredients for the cookie dough, while Ashley was possibly over-tasked with Mission Wet Ingredients. It was only after the dough was painstakingly pressed into the pie plates, that Aly asked, "Ashley, why are these eggs still here?!?" We also discovered that eggs can be enthusiastically massaged into cookie dough with great success if they are, in the off chance, left out by an overly-distracted kitchen agent...

Over all, we learned a lot -- mostly about all the ways in which pie crust can be a challenge and devising many creative work-arounds that didn't involve us going to the store.

For example, who knew that pie weights were so important to prevent an empty pie shell from the "slump and bubble" effect that can warp a pie crust beyond casual recognition?"

Or that cookie dough expands much like cake when placed into a pie dish as an alternative crust option?

In the end -- despite the merry misadventures -- the pie was indeed a winner. In fact, we won first place at the fair.

In the process, we also invented the "deconstructed quiche" using the two unattractive, yet delicious, UFO-shaped pie crusts, crafted two beautiful custard pies, and put away a batch of ginger cookie dough balls in the freezer for later use.

It was a lengthy, but richly productive kitchen adventure. We are already planning out next year's winning pie...

Prep time:

1 hour* (*if not in the two day inventing phase), plus time to chill (at least 2, plus 4 more hours)

Cook time:

10 minutes (for the cookies if they aren't already made)


For the Custard


For the Crust


For the Topping


For the Garnish



Step 1. Prepare the custard

In a sauce pan, whisk together the sugar, milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, cornstarch, and lemon zest.

Stir over medium heat, until the mixture becomes thick, about ten minutes.

Remove from heat.

Stir in the butter.

Place the custard into a large glass or ceramic bowl.

Cool at room temperature covered with a tea towel

When completely cool, stir in the sour cream.


Step 2. Make the crust

Pulse the cookies in a food processor until crumbled.

Add the melted butter and pulse until well mixed.

Press the crust mixture into a 1/4 inch layer along the bottom and sides of the pie dish.

If desired, form scalloped edges at the rim.


Step 3. Make the stabilized cream cheese

In a saucepan, mix together the Knox gelatin and water and let stand for 5 minutes.

In a steep-sided bowl, whip the room temperature cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Heat the Knox gelatin and water on the stove. Stir until all grains have dissolved.

Add the gelatin mixture to the frosting and beat well.

Slowly add the whipping cream and beat well.

Place the frosting into a ziplock bag that has been fitted with a pastry tip and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


Step 4. Prepare the lemon peel

In a small bowl, mix together the Grand marnier with the strips of lemon peel. Let stand for at least 1 hour.

Remove the lemon peel, shaking off any excess liquor and gently coat each piece with sugar just before use.


Step 5. Assemble the pie

Place the custard into the crust and smooth the surface with a spatula.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, garnish the pie with swirls of cream cheese, sugared lemon peel and berries.