Seville Orange and Lemon Pie

In Recipe, Seville Orange by Sean13 Comments

Seville Orange & Lemon Pie

I haven’t made any secret about my love of language. I’m fascinated by the stories behind words, and food words in particular can be pretty fascinating. Orange is a really interesting word – no rhymes, used for both the colour and the fruit, etc. I just learned the other day that before the word ‘orange’ (from the fruit) found its way into Middle English, the existing word for the colour was ġeolurēad (yellow-red). I don’t know why, but that amuses me. Now orange itself is a great word, but it’s also happens to be the source of one of my favourite linguistic concepts: the retronym. A retronym is a name that is applied to something well after the fact in order to differentiate it from its descendents. Acoustic guitar is a great example; there was no need for the ‘acoustic’ part before the invention of the electric guitar. This brings us to the Seville, or bitter orange.

When we say orange nowadays, we tend to mean the sweet and juicy type typically eaten out of hand. But that orange is a relative newcomer, having taken over the moniker from the original bitter/sour Seville orange. A plate full of Seville orange slices would not be a welcome refreshment during halftime at a kids’ soccer game. The fruits are intensely fragrant, but they’re also sour, bitter, and loaded with seeds. As an eating fruit, it’s easy to see why the sweet orange (which is basically a sibling of the Seville orange, derived from the same parents but during a completely separate hybridization event) would dominate the market. But the ‘orange character’ (Oranginess? Orangitude?) of the Seville orange is absolutely unparalleled, and it’s an incredible ingredient to cook and bake with. In fact, the relative lack of sweetness in the Seville orange is something of an asset in desserts where sugar is added, as it yields a more nuanced, balanced dessert that avoids becoming cloying. Sadly, the once-widespread Seville orange doesn’t enjoy the popularity it once did, and it’s become pretty tricky to find. But there’s really no replacing them, and once you’ve tried them, you’ll look for them everywhere.

Now I tend to have weird-produce-radar in general, but when winter rolls around my citrus senses really start tingling. As luck would have it, I happened upon a little green grocer that was stocking Seville oranges at rather low prices.  In what I assume was an effort to avoid any confusion with sweet oranges, they were in a box right beside the till.  On my third trip to get more (I got kind of hooked on these things), the well-meaning cashier immediately started warning me that they were not sweet.  I smiled and thanked her, and told here I knew.  She asked if I was going to make jam (I was) but I told her that I had other plans for this batch, and that you could actually do a lot of cooking with these oranges.  She seemed a little surprised – and I think that’s pretty indicative of the problem.  Seville oranges have become ‘marmalade only’ oranges.  Now, I love making marmalade, but that intense orange flavour hit that Seville oranges deliver warrants their inclusion in a much wider range of dishes.  With that in mind, I bring you an orange pie that will convince you that the Seville orange is actually the most orange-flavoured orange out there.  Orange.

This pie is intense.  Intense is probably not a word most people associate with pie, but I’m just going to go and put it all out there.  INTENSE.  As I’ve said, seville oranges are definitely not sweet, but that’s a huge plus here, as there’s already enough sweetness in the other filling ingredients.  Instead, they (and the lemons) contribute an amazing, tangy citrus flavour.  I had a piece 2 hours before I wrote this, and I swear I can still taste oranges.  But I wasn’t content to stop at the orange, so I’ve added a chocolate (orange’s best buddy) graham wafer crust.

Incidentally, a well-executed citrus-meringue pie (lemon, key lime, etc) should always be at least a little intense – the whole point is to let the citrus really shine through the treacly-sweet condensed milk.  Juice is only half the battle here – zest is best.  Citrus zest packs a wallop, so don’t relegate it to the garbage bin.

If you want to find out more things that you can do with Seville oranges, or if you want to find out how to buy and use them, check out the Diversivore ingredient page HERE.

Recipe Notes

The pie filling is based on this recipe for Sour Orange Pie from Authentic Florida, though the cook times are a little different, and I like to prepare and use the zest a little differently.  The chocolate graham wafer crust is adapted from this food.com recipe.

HELP I CAN’T FIND SEVILLE ORANGES!

Ok, I realize that when I present a recipe with an unusual or obscure ingredient, it can be a little maddening when you have no idea where to find it. First off, let me say that there is a decent chance that you can actually order some Seville oranges online. Even if you have to order what seems like a lot, it’s worth noting that you can do a TON of different things with them, and they actually freeze (whole, believe it or not) incredibly well. They also do tend to show up in stores more than many people realize, as they can be a bit camouflaged among the sweet oranges. Try organic and specialty stores (I’ve seen them at Whole Foods before, to give you an idea).

If you really can’t find them though, you can try one of two substitutions:
1. A 50/50 mixture of lemon and sweet orange juice. Given that you’re already using lemon juice in this recipe, the end result will be something like a lemony/orange pie, but it will still be good.
2. Calamondin/calamansi juice. These little citrus fruits are sometimes green on the outside, sometimes orange, but they always have an orange flesh with lots of little seeds. They’re generally sweeter than Seville oranges, but they have some of that lovely tart/bitter flavour as well. The whole fruits often show up in the winter in Asian grocery stores, especially those catering to Filipino populations. You might be able to find the juice on it’s own too, but note that many of the pre-packaged calamansi juices you’ll see are sweetened.

This isn’t a terribly complicated recipe to put together. If you’ve ever made a lemon meringue pie from scratch, you’ll have no trouble.

CRUST

The crust is particularly easy, and can be made up to a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen in a well-sealed bag and kept for 2-3 months. You may find that this recipe makes more crust mix than you want (unless you like a very thick crust or you build the edges up quite high) so consider freezing the remaining crumb-mix as is for later use, or make a few small tart/pie crusts to use with cheesecake, lime curd, etc. Likewise, you could reduce the crust ingredients by about 15% if a) you don’t mind the math, and b) you’re trying to reduce the amount you make.  I really do recommend using graham wafers AND a good cocoa powder, and not chocolate graham wafers. The flavour is better, and you have more control over the sweetness and the intensity of the chocolate flavour.

ZEST

If you have a good microplane or a citrus zester (the type commonly used to make curls of zest for drinks) you can use that to peel zest the from the fruit. However, I prefer not to use a box grater, as it’s tough to control how thick the gratings are, and a lot of citrus oil gets left on the grater. Instead, use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel off the coloured layer of zest, avoiding the bitter white pith below. Then, thinly sliced and finely chop the zest. You’ll end up with tiny little bits of zest that add a lot of flavour and little punches of colour in the filling.

MERINGUE

Meringue can be a bit tricky, but there are a few tricks to help make the process easier. If possible, use room-temperature egg whites. Do not apply meringue to a cold pie, as this increases the risk of weeping (water collecting between the pie and the meringue). Try to spread the meringue all the way around the pie, touching all of the crust, as this will help prevent the meringue from shrinking. Small beads may form on the surface of the meringue if it is overcooked slightly, so try to watch the cook time as carefully as you can. The key to toasting the meringue (but not overcooking it) is to use a high temperature for a short period of time.

STORAGE

Serve the pie as quickly as possible after it’s cooled, as the meringue will be at its best early on. If you have to store leftovers (hah!), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The meringue will probably soften and get a bit spongy, but it will still taste good.


Nutrition Facts
Sour Orange and Lemon Pie
Amount Per Serving
Calories 412 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 118mg 39%
Sodium 173mg 7%
Potassium 179mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 64g 21%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 53g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 17%
Calcium 11%
Iron 9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

GOOD NEWS:
It’s delicious.  And… low in sodium.

BAD NEWS:
It’s dessert, and it’s loaded with extra calories.  One big kicker is the sweetened condensed milk, and there are low- and no-fat versions of that, so you might be able to tweak this into a less guilty version. But hey, it’s dessert.

Ingredient Pages

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

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Seville (Sour) Orange and Lemon Pie with a Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust - Diversivore.com
Sour Orange and Lemon Pie
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Servings Prep Time
10 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 6 hours
Servings Prep Time
10 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 6 hours
Seville (Sour) Orange and Lemon Pie with a Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust - Diversivore.com
Sour Orange and Lemon Pie
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
10 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 6 hours
Servings Prep Time
10 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 6 hours
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1.75 cups graham cracker crumbs (pulverize whole graham crackers with a rolling pin or in a food processor for the freshest results)
  • 10 tbsp butter (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons , or 140 g)
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar (62 g)
  • 10 tbsp cocoa powder unsweetened (70 g, or 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp)
Filling
Meringue
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
Crust
  1. In a food processor, combine the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, and sugar.
  2. Melt the butter and add it to the crumb mixture slowly while mixing to combine.
  3. Firmly press the mixture into a 9 inch pie dish. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (177° C).
  2. Combine the orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil on the stove top, then reduce heat and simmer until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency (the final volume should be about 3/4 cup). Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. If you haven't done so yet, separate the egg yolks and whites. Set the whites aside for use in the meringue.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and citrus zest. Using a hand (or stand) mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 4-5 minutes, or until they look airy and fluffy.
  5. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk to the eggs, mixing to combine. Whip for a further 2-3 minutes, until the mixture looks thick and somewhat airy.
  6. Using the lowest setting on the mixture, combine in the reserved syrup until the filling mixture is just combined.
  7. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for about 15 minutes. The filling should be well-set, but will still jiggle a little. The edge of the filling should be puffed up and slightly browned. If you're not sure whether or not the filling is set, check the center with a toothpick; if it's gooey, bake a little longer. Once baked, allow the pie to cool slightly while preparing the meringue. Leave the oven on.
Meringue
  1. In a large bowl, combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Using the (clean) mixer with whisk attachment, beat the eggs into firm peaks.
  2. Slowly add the sugar while beating the meringue, until well-combined.
  3. Spread (or pipe) the meringue onto the the top of the pie crust, making sure to reach the edges.
  4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 F, then bake the pie for an additional 5-7 minutes with the door slightly ajar. The meringue should be toasty and lightly golden. Watch this step very carefully, as meringue can burn easily.
  5. Set the pie to cool on a counter for 4 hours, or if necessary, in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Cooling in the refrigerator will help set the filling a bit more, but makes the meringue more likely to soften.
Recipe Notes

Crust
The crust can be made up to a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator.  It can also be frozen in a well-sealed bag and kept for 2-3 months.  You may find that this recipe makes amore crust mix than you want (unless you like a very thick crust) so consider freezing the remaining crumb-mix as is for later use, or make a few small tart/pie crusts to use with cheesecake, lime curd, etc.

Zest
If you have a good microplane, you can use that to zest the fruit.  However, I prefer not to use a box grater, as it's tough to control how thick the gratings are, and a lot of citrus oil gets left on the grater.  Instead, use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel off the coloured layer of zest, avoiding the bitter white pith below.  Then, thinly sliced and finely chop the zest.  You'll end up with tiny little bits of zest that add a lot of flavour and little punches of colour in the filling.

Meringue
Meringue can be a bit tricky, but there are a few tricks to help make the process easier.  If possible, use room-temperature egg whites.  Do not apply meringue to a cold pie, as this increases the risk of weeping (water collecting between the pie and the meringue).  Try to spread the meringue all the way around the pie, touching all of the crust, as this will help prevent the meringue from shrinking.  Small beads may form on the surface of the meringue if it is overcooked slightly, so try to watch the cook time as carefully as you can.  The key to toasting the meringue (but not overcooking it) is to use a high temperature for a short period of time.

Storage
Serve the pie as quickly as possible after it's cooled, as the meringue will be at its best early on.  If you have to store leftovers (hah!), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.   The meringue will probably soften and get a bit spongy, but it will still taste good.

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Comments

  1. This was FASCINATING! I’ve never even heard of Seville oranges, and I definitely wouldn’t have known what to do with them.

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for them- this pie sounds amazing! Chocolate and orange is one of my absolute favorite combinations! We’re headed to a huge market tomorrow so I’ll see if I can find them!!!

  2. Oh wow! This pie sounds so amazing! Love the flavors here! I need to find some seville oranges pronto!

  3. I didn’t realize that Seville Oranges were that tart. It’s great that you popped them into a pie that can be, on occasion, a too sweet dessert to balance things out. I also love the idea of lemon in there. That second flavour profile will add lots of depth to the filling. And let’s not get me started on meringue. As a child I would order Lemon Meringue Pie whenever I could, but would only eat the meringue. Crazy, I know. BUT so good.

  4. As always, what an intriguing recipe! I don’t believe I’ve ever had Seville oranges, but I kinda like that you mixed it with lemon juice. I’d love to try some of that “yellow-red” tart! Haha

  5. Hi Sean, I have to say I have never had or seen a Seville orange. They were probably there but was not paying attention. They sound fantastic.I love any kind of meringue. Love the way it crisps up in the oven and just melts on your tongue. The idea of this orange and lemon filling, combined with the crumb crust a bit on the chocolaty side sounds so good. I am not a huge baker. Nicoletta usually leads that department, but you have inspired me to want to try this. Thanks for the lessons today on words and food. I always smile as I learn so much.
    Have a great weekend!
    [email protected]

  6. I don’t often see seville oranges in stores, but I have occasionally been able to buy them, and they are fantastic for vinaigrettes. This pie reminds me so much of a key lime pie, which, along with lemon meringue, are one of the few deserts I will never say no to. The seville orange sounds just perfect for this type of pie. If I come upon some sevilles, I know now exactly what I want to do with them.

  7. My uncle has a colamondin tree in his house and he has a fresh crop every few months. I’m sending this to him because while the jam he makes is delicious, we’re all kind of sick of it. Haha

  8. Sean, I’ve been seeing this on your social feeds for about a week, and I’ve meant to visit and read all about it. I finally have that chance, and man, I’m so glad I did. 1. Becuase your photos are making me want dessert at 9 in the morning and 2. I’ve never tried Seville Oranges, as they are super hard to find, as you pointed out, and I want to so badly now. 3. That crust looks wonderful and I’m so glad it’s not oreo based. (even if I do love it) Looks amazing!

  9. I love tangy citrus flavor so this pie would likely go over very well in our house! I love how surprised the cashier was when you told her what you were doing with the oranges! Haha! I can only imagine how refreshing and delicious the citrus and chocolate flavors blend together in each bite!

  10. I, too, am a lover of linguistics! Really love the intro to this post, so fascinating. Seville oranges must be so wonderful in this pie. I completely agree with you about well-executed citrus pies in general. A prominent citrus flavor is really a must to balance the sweeter elements. Too often, I’ve found myself staring down slices of pie that are heavily sweetened with only a mildly detectable citrus component. This pie is beautiful and it sounds like it strikes a wonderful balance of textures and flavors!

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