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Stacked Pies: Whole Lemon Pie + Blueberry Strawberry Pie from Melissa Clark and SassyRadish

Stacking pies in Karen's family is genetic. I'm not sure if that's a dominant or recessive gene, but I'm pretty damn happy I married into it.

Karen has spent a considerable time on this year. Inspired by Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s PBS show and Who Do You Think You Are (hi, Lisa Kudrow), she's mapped back her roots to England, Scotland, Germany, and France. She says she's a mutt of Europe with some haphazard Dutch, Polish, and Swiss thrown in there for kicks. 

The first time Karen got on, she sat in the same chair for five hours. It's like porn for the historically-inclined.

Her Puritan roots are shocking if you know her (hello, hotness). But she's more than a little proud that her relative, Giles Corey, was crushed to death in the Salem Witch Trials. Since I used to teach The Crucible to high schoolers, I find this mental jag a little hard to comprehend. The old man that got crushed to death in Arthur Miller's play was actually related to my wife? Why couldn't it be the crazy girl who started all the lies? She's way cooler. But I guess old crushed guy is better than nothing.

Karen has also discovered that she is related to William Wallace, also known as Braveheart (insert sad Mel Gibson joke here). I try to tell her that all people with vaguely Scottish roots magically find themselves related to William Wallace. She tells me to go shove it up my English roots.

(As I'm writing this, Karen asked me if I mentioned the Mayflower. Yes, Karen, here is your fancy Mayflower comment. Your relatives were on the Mayflower. You are a better person than I am. Now do my family lines, please, so I may use this knowledge against you during arguments over who will vacuum the Cheerios off the playroom floor.)

But the best thing she discovered in her research? Her relatives in North Carolina. Cabins in the Laural detailed information about her extended family here in the US. And these fine people stacked pies.

The best part of the book is when it shared details about family gatherings. People came from all over the mountainous area of NC for these gatherings, a pie in hand. And at these gatherings, they stacked their pies.

Each pie from a family was stacked on top of another's pie. And again and again. The pies could become ridiculously high. Four, five, six, or more pies stacked on top of each other, creating something new out of their collective parts. When Karen read this, she demanded we do it for ourselves.

Some family traditions are worth passing down. Even if you never knew about them until you read a book.

And after trying it, you must make this a family tradition. Get your damn pies up.

When starting on any pie adventure, we go straight to our favorite pie source, Melissa Clark

Her crust will save the world from its sins, whatever they may be. Put down your recipe cards, my friends. Liberty and truth and a pie crust dough that feels like velvet is within your reach. Perfection here on earth was attained by Melissa Clark and a few blitzes of her food processor. Stop your struggle for contentment and forgiveness, for lo, Melissa Clark has created it for you in the pulse, pulse, pulse of your KitchenAid.

So, her pie crust is pretty good. You should make it.

Then, on to Melissa's lemon tart filling. We (and by "we," I mean the descendant of William Wallace) decided to take Melissa's lemon tart filling and shove it into her perfect pie crust. Karen cooked the lemon pie for a few more minutes that Melissa states for her lemon tart until there's just a hint of golden to the top of the filling and the pie looks set. 2-5 minute increments over the stated baking time will get you there. Stop drinking and use your timer and your eye balls. You can do this!

For our second and third pies, we knew we wanted to do a baked blueberry and baked strawberry. Fresh versions of both are wonderful of course, but we wanted to try baked, especially for the strawberry. But here's the thing...the first baked strawberry pie we made was not good. Not good at all. We shall keep the name of the owner of that recipe to ourselves.

So we went in search of a better pie. 

Our friend Google helped us find @sassyradish's Blueberry Strawberry Pie. Gorgeous. And oh, looky, looky. She adapted it from a recipe that someone named Melissa Clark did in a book with White House chef, Bill Yosses. The recipe that inspired Olga came from The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion that Melissa and Chef Bill wrote together. This is a must-have book. And Olga's is a must-read site. 

What sent the Blueberry Strawberry pie over the edge into brilliance is the thyme in the filling. You must not leave it out. The thyme hits your mouth in surprising ways making you wonder what that great flavor is...and then you remember it's the thyme you popped in there.

We left off any top crust from the pie in case we were bordering on too much stacked crust as if there ever could be such a thing. I don't think you need to make that choice, but it's your life.

Together...lemon tart + intense blue/strawberry + a soul-healing pie crust? Well, how do you think it tasted? Like the best pie. Ever. x2.

You must stack your pies. Karen's ancestors knew what they were doing. This is a tradition to start today.

I promise they'll write books about it. 


Recipe | Blueberry Strawberry Pie via

Recipe | Whole Lemon Tart adapted from Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

For the pie crust, we followed Melissa's All-Butter Pie Crust here. Prebake it as directed.

For the lemon filling


  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Lower the oven on to 325 F.
  • Zest the lemons. Place zest into a food processor.
  • Supreme the lemons. If you don't know how to do this, follow Melissa's video.
  • Put the supremed lemon pieces in with the zest. Finally together, with that pith removed. Let them have some alone time. Make some lemon babies.
  • Throw in the sugar, cornstarch, salt. 
  • Blitz on. When combined, stop. Don't overthink this.
  • Dump the contents into a bowl. Give it a thumbs up and tell the mixture it did great.
  • In another bowl, dump the butter, egg and yolks, and vanilla. Whisk a bit until uniform.
  • Dump the egg mixture into the lemon mixture. Play some sexy music and have a sip of wine (optional)
  • Whisk! Whisk for your life! Or until the mixture is combined.
  • Pour into the parbaked pie crust. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes and check it. We're looking for a very lightly browned surface. You may need up to 5 more minutes, so stop drinking and pay attention to your pie.
  • Take the pie out of the oven and let it cool completely. 
  • Do a slow sway of your hips, side to side. You did it. Turn the sexy music up a little and dance.
  • Feel free to make this pie a day before stacking.


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Reader Comments (35)

No booze in your pies? I am slightly disappointed.

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYuri

I know we say this all the time trying to sound all nice and everything - make people feel like their food is drool worthy - but, for real, by the time I got to the last paragraph my mouth was watering. And I ain't got no time to make no pie tonight. So I'll suffer and wait and hope that one of my family members that's still alive is into pie making and will drop one by unexpectedly.

We can hope.

Tons of coolness in this post. I love the vast amount of history in Karen's family! So interesting. I am tempted to go on the site now and see what is in my past. A bunch of cooking Italians, I suppose. But, I bet no one in my lineage was genius enough to stack pies. What an idea! Have fun with this new tradition. :)

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

What a non-sad post after 2 straight months of pitiness, well, expect for the old guy who got crushed. He's probably still pretty sad.
Thanks for the history lesson and crazy alluring pie:)

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEthan

Love Melissa, love Olga, and I love the two of you and this crazy stacked pie business. The last photo is my favorite...the pie looks magnificent!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWinnie

Wow, I hope the strawberry pie wasn't from my blog. And if it was, I'm sorry.

Love this idea! Will have to try pie stacking soon!

I'm not sure what has me wanting more... the writing or the pie! Clever, witty & tasty!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgie

Pie... stacking?

Um, my mind is blown. I keep staring at the screen, the two delicious crusts.
And muttering "Damnit, The Peche, you did it again!"

Also, I SO want to know who's strawberry pie recipe it was. Really badly.

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteremily | nomnivorous

stacked pies? I thought it was an urban legend! How did you get the pie out of the pie plate??? Brilliant. F'ing brilliant.

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

One you go stack, you'll never go back. You two are the funniest and most lovable couple. So start stacking the news, I'm baking today ....

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKen⏐hungry rabbit

Fascinating. You clearly thought this pie stacking through. Those sound like very complimentary flavors. At first I was thinking this would be fun for Thanksgiving but then I imagined pumpkin pie topped with apple & chocolate cream and then I vomited a bit in my pants.

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenniferA

I love you guys. I tried to find my roots on Know what I found? Bubkus. Do you know what that made me feel like? So, since I am the bastard child of nobody I am going to steal the idea of stacking pies, because it is just so silly. Your stacked pies are beautiful and I could just taste it. I am just thinking that if I try doing that the outcome will be like me looking for my roots. Futile. I will be over after dinner tonight to borrow some pie.

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanis

Pie-stacking Puritans and Braveheart? What a fabulous genetic cocktail! You may be related to the guy who invented the Cherpumple - a three layer cake with a pie stuffed in each layer.

Utterly brilliant Pechey folks. I don't know that I'm brave enough to attempt such shenanigans...maybe if I had a bit of a Braveheart bloodline I'd be stacking pies too.

I've never been real big on history or tracing family lines... But, if this pie stacking thing came out of it, then I'm all for it! :) Crazy and brilliant... And, I love it!

I love Melissa's book and now REALLY want to try this pie but have to say...oh my pretend NC roots...I haven't seen a stacked pie for 30 years! I lived in NC for 10 years and a group I belonged to had an annual picnic and someone thought it would be fun to 'continue' this tradition even if we were all transplants (had to have been a history buff right?). Of course they were not as well planned out as blueberry and lemon which is perfect. Add some thyme? I'm sold.

I had no idea you were (or maybe still are?) a teacher... that's slightly scary or maybe mildly amusing. I'm not sure yet which it is. But the pies... the stacked pies even... wow. They sound pretty amazing.

Wow. You learn something new all the time, don't you? Never, ever heard of stacked pies and I thought I knew everything there was to know about old southern traditions and food. I say let's revive this particular tradition and start spreading it all around the internet!

Wow. That looks ridiculously, even perhaps inappropriately, delicious. I love how that very first pie pic looks like it's headed right for your mouth!! :)

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

There is no way that stacking pies could ever be a bad thing. Now, if I could actually make a decent pie, this would be the first thing I'd do with said pie!

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElle

My god! My coworkers and I are drooling over that pie as I type ... So gorgeous. So extremely covetous.

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternicole

So amazing!

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralice

i love this post - everything about it. the fmaily history is hilarious - and the pie looks too good to be true. i want to make one now. thanks for the inspiration!

Stacked pies??? Never heard of this tradition, but sounds yummy to me.

Love Karen's ancestry research...I got sucked into that hole as well, but didn't make much progress. Family lore has us as descendants of William Wallace (my father's parents were crazy enough to name him True William Wallace) although my research suggested that Mr. Braveheart never had any children, so not sure about that connection.

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

oh. my. gawdie. i shall be dreaming and scheming with visions of pie-stacking all in my head . . .

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSMITH BITES
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