Citrus Chess Pie

Prep Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 35 mins

We used a fluted round cutter to make our design on this pie, but a hexagonal, flower, or oval shape would work as well. Dusted with powdered sugar before serving, it might remind you of another sweet-and-tart old-fashioned favorite, lemon bars.


  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • Test Kitchen's Favorite Pate Brisee, divided into 2 round disks

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup packed light-brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon fine cornmeal

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 Cara Cara orange (1 teaspoon), plus 1/3 cup fresh juice

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons fresh juice

  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Separate 1 egg; whisk white with 1 teaspoon water, reserving yolk. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out one disk of dough 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Trim to a 1-inch overhang, then tuck overhang under, forming a rim. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

  2. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out second disk of dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a cake pan as a guide, cut an 8-inch round from dough; transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

  3. Using a 3/4-inch decorative cutter and starting in center, make evenly spaced cutouts in chilled second round of dough, reserving 34 cutouts. (Bake remainder, or save for another purpose.) Return decorative top to refrigerator until chilled, about 30 minutes.

  4. Brush rim of piecrust with egg wash. Arrange cutouts evenly around edge, pressing gently to adhere. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in lower third and a parchment-lined baking sheet on a rack below. Carefully line crust with parchment, keeping it away from decorative rim. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Brush tops of cutouts with egg wash.

  6. Bake until edges of pastry begin to turn golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and beans, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and return crust to oven. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown and dry on bottom, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Tent edges of crust with foil.

  7. Brush decorative dough top with egg wash. Bake until golden and crisp, about 18 minutes. Let cool completely on rack.

  8. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together both sugars, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Whisk in remaining 3 eggs, reserved yolk, orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. Whisk in butter. Pour filling into piecrust and bake until top is golden and center is slightly wobbly, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely on rack. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. (Keep baked decorative pie top covered at room temperature.)

  9. Dust top of pie with confectioners' sugar and place decorative pie top in center; serve.

    Will Anderson

Cook's Notes

When blind-baking (prebaking) a piecrust, crumple parchment into a ball and smooth it back out before lining the crust with it.The "relaxed" paper will fit the crust better, and can be easily folded away from decorative edges.

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