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You heard me, “pie.” Not cheesecake.

This is a Dad special, though I found a copy of a slightly different cheese pie recipe in Gram’s notes too. The recipes both produce a pale, creamy pie with a good zing of lemon in the base.

I’ve mentioned this before, and will again: Dad was not a happy crust-maker. He was sanguine when he could start with someone else’s crust in hand and go from there. In this case, the “someone” was the Keebler elves. They stayed up late in the magical forest making my father his ready-to-use graham-cracker crusts.

Graham-cracker crusts are actually pretty easy to make, and Gram’s recipe included instructions and ingredients for making six crusts at once. But in the spirit of Dad, I retested this recipe with his old standby. And you know, those elves make good crusts.

This is also a recipe that can benefit from using reduced-fat sour cream. Normally, I don’t reach for this, but I liked it in this pie. I’m not talking about non-fat sour cream (shudder). Not for baking, my friends.

The variation in the amount of grated lemon rind is both a question of taste and of your grater. A regular box grater keeps a large portion of the rind for itself, so that a half-lemon’s yield may feel chintzy. A Microplane grater (I will post on this, one of my favorite tools) gives you a giant pile of fluffy zest — such productivity that a whole lemon’s-worth was almost overkill. Play with this; there are no wrong answers.

When digging in to the final product, my tasters had a question: “Can we please change the name?” They wrinkled their noses at Cheese Pie, saying that that name did NOT make them think of dessert. I’m too close to this. Is this as bad a name as that British pudding classic, “spotted dick”? Would something like “Lemony Cream Cheese Pie” be better? Make it, taste it, tell me.

Cheese Pie from "Baking Family," Garside Group LLC

Cheese Pie (For Now)

Makes one 8-inch or 9-inch pie

  • Graham cracker crust for single-crust pie
  • 12 ounces cream cheese (4 small packages or 1-1/2 large), softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • Grated rind of one-half to one lemon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar. Add eggs and lemon peel, and mix well. Your mixture will be slightly lumpy. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for one hour.

Preheat over to 450°F.

In a small bowl mix sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Spread carefully over the top of the pie, leaving the edge of the crust showing. Put pie into hot oven and bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, then refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Photo and recipe copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC

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