Summer Slices: Sour Orange Pie
The forgotten classic
Everybody knows about key lime pie, but before it became a national star, another citrus dessert had already staked a claim as a Florida favorite. “Sour orange pie actually has a brighter, cleaner flavor than key lime pie, in part because it isn’t made with condensed milk,” says the chef Greg Baker, who grew up in Clearwater. Traditionally, the pie features the tart juice of the sour orange, an often feral fruit first introduced to Florida by sixteenth-century Spanish settlers. Baker’s update substitutes juice from an ordinary orange cut with lemon to approximate the flavor. (Though if you’re lucky enough to have sour oranges nearby, you can use the same volume of their juice in the recipe; just increase the sugar by ¼ cup.) Another modern twist on this old-timey classic: a salty, crumbly cracker crust that contrasts with the fluffy meringue and the sweet-and-sour filling.
1½ sleeves saltine crackers, crushed but not powdered
3 tbsp. sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. butter, melted
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 tbsp. + 1tsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon juice
3 egg whites
3 tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine crackers and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Add softened butter and knead until dough comes together. Then press the mixture into an 8-inch pie pan and chill it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just brown. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F, and prepare the filling and meringue.
Filling and Meringue
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch and then whisk in melted butter. Slowly pour 1 cup hot water into the mixture, whisking to dissolve any lumps. Whisk in egg yolks and citrus juices, then place the pan over medium-low heat and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
Make the meringue: Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until frothy (about 5 minutes). Add sugar gradually while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form (about 2 minutes more).
To assemble the pie, pour the filling into the shell and gently spread the meringue over the top. Make sure the meringue touches the crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meringue is evenly browned. Let cool before serving.