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Sour Orange Pie

This is key lime pie without the bitter edge, without the ghastly after-taste of citric acid that comes in every bottle of key lime juice and/or without the time-consuming work of squeezing a bagful of slippery key limes.

This is a pie to die for – it is utterly, exquisitely, eye-rollingly delicious. The crust needs a little work – it is a pecan, shortbread crust that is pretty damn good but I would like it to be a little crisper – a little more cookie-like, so that the juxtaposition between the crisp base and the soft filling create a kind of edible symphony! I achieved this one time but didn’t make a note of the proportions I used. Grrr. The lovely orange flavors ring through more clearly than with a sweet orange and the rind colors it as well. One time I tried to intensify the color of the filling using prickly pear juice – I forgot that purple + white (milk) = pink and I ended up with the most disgusting looking pie in the world – the color of pepto-bismol. We ate that one with our eyes closed.

Ingredients for one large (10” pie)

The Pecan Shortcrust Base
6 oz flour
4 oz ground pecans (or chopped and toasted if you want a crunchy base)
5 oz brown sugar
5 oz cold unsalted butter
Turn the oven to 375 degrees

~Process the flour and butter lightly (or cut then rub the butter into the flour)
~Fold in brown sugar and the nuts
~Add a little ice water to make it stick together
~Pat into a buttered/floured pan. Use the bottom of a flat glass to flatten it gently.
~Bake for 30 mins or until light brown and smelling heavenly.


Set aside to cool for an hour or two. This helps with the final texture of the base – if you add the filling when it’s freshly cooked the base will be softer.


While you are waiting for it to cool you can separate the egg yolks from the whites and make a batch of Pecan Meringue Kisses!!!

The Sour Orange Filling
5 large egg yolks
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of sour orange juice
grated rind of 2 oranges
Turn the oven to 350 degrees

Blend all ingredients for 20 seconds or whisk like crazy for a good minute.
Pour into the cake pan and bake for 15 mins (to set the pie and kill the salmonella!)

Finishing Touches
Top it with some berries – in an untidy, uneven pile, or arranged carefully around the edge so every slice gets one (or more!)
A sprinkling of flowers from the garden are lovely
A mandala of small edible leaves (mint, lemon balm or cranberry hibiscus are perfect)!


Eat It!

This pie is delectable warm, delicious cold, even better the next day.
Serve it with cream and/or a raspberry coulis (fresh sauce), or chopped strawberries.
It lasts a good week in the fridge (not mine!) but remember that the crust becomes softer over time.

Working Notes!
If you prefer your pies more tart than sweet then add the juice of one lemon to ‘brighten’ it.
There’s no way around the tin of condensed milk – it’s a strange ingredient for a whole food nut but it works like nothing else.
Switch out the pecans for walnuts or hazelnuts.
The rind adds color and deepens the orange flavors in the tart. You can omit it if you like or replace the orange with lemon rind.
If you use lemon juice or rind try a Meyer’s lemon (my personal favorite) which has a slight tangerine tang to it.
Use a ‘rasp’ to grate the rind – it’s super quick and easy and you only get the aromatic outside i.e. none of the white at all.
Use a pan with a removable side if you can – we Brits call these spring-form – I’m not sure what they are called in the US.

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