Lemon Chiffon Pie with Cornflake Crust

After making Lemon Infused Vodka a few weeks ago I was reminded of my love for the smell and flavor of lemons.  Despite being a winter fruit they really seem to be a harbinger of spring to me; here to escort us from the cold, dreary days with their lively presence and depart once we are nestled into the guaranteed warmth before us for the next several months.
I wanted to make a lemon pie of some sort and dove into my vintage collection of recipes for option.  I found a great Lemon Custard Pie of my Great Grandmother’s though admittedly was making this rather spontaneously as I most often do and it seemed a bit lengthy.  I found a few others in a recipe collection I purchased on eBay that as best I can tell came from the late 1930’s on from the northern mid States. 
I settled however on a recipe from the 1937 handwritten recipe book I’ve used a few times, Kitchen Scrapbook.  It is a cookbook divided by recipe genre with some recipes printed by the publisher and numerous blank pages to add one’s own recipes.  The copy I have is filled with a variety of recipes from different women, and was clearly used in the way recipe cards were passed years later.  The recipe was for a Lemon Chiffon Pie by ‘Christine’ but what really peaked my curiosity was the Cornflake Crust.  Have never heard or had one.  Always love to try something new and this was a road worth taking.
I’m not fully sure why I love vintage recipes so much.  I certainly cook most often with modern recipes or methods but especially in the baked goods department I find something homey, and comforting about making a recipe I know someone else was making over a half century or more ago.  I find the ingredients are usually ‘whole’ (not processed), the flavors to be true and I love pulling things out of mothballs to share.  There has been a shift with cyber recipe sharing.  Those recipes currently online are passed and adapted readily but I feel these vintage recipe girls, whose handwriting so prompts my curiosity about them, are left by the wayside.  By coming into their recipes I feel an ownership to share them, and thank you for the encouraging comments you’ve left and indulging me in my mission!
If you like lemon, this is the pie for you.  It is fabulously lemony with just the right amount of sweetness to ward off a pucker.
·         4 eggs, separated
·         1 cup sugar
·         ½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 6-8 lemons)*
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 envelope unflavored gelatin
·         ¼ cup cold water
·         1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
·         Whipping cream to top the pie
·         1 graham cracker or Cornflake Crust (recipe below)
*if you put a lemon in the microwave for about 10 seconds it will release more juice afterwards!
1.       Beat egg yolks.  Add to them ½ cup sugar, lemon juice, and salt, stirring to fully combine.
2.      In a non-aluminum double boiler, or in a non-aluminum metal bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water, cook the egg-sugar-lemon juice until it thickens to a custard-like consistency; stirring constantly.
3.      As the mixture becomes almost thickened, in a separate bowl combine the gelatin and cold water.  Stir to combine and set aside.
4.      When egg-sugar-lemon juice mixture has thickened add the gelatin.  Stir to combine.  Add grated lemon rind.  Allow to cool.
5.      Beat egg whites while gradually adding ½ cup sugar.  Beat until stiff.  Note: my egg whites were not what I’d think of as classic ‘stiff egg whites’ when done.  They were more like a thick marshmallow cream consistency.  That may be our altitude but it worked fine in the pie. 
6.      When the filling has cooled and is thick (but not completely firm), fold in egg whites to fully combine.  Pour into a completed pie crust and cool until firm in the refrigerator.  Top with whipping cream and serve.
A tip:  I ended up making the pie twice not having had experience making this type of pie.  I found the custard cooled slowly to a point then seemed to instantaneously gel, making chunks when mixing with the egg whites.  The second time I made it I quickly made the egg white mixture which took a very long time to thicken I suspect due to the sugar and my altitude.  As the egg whites were finishing up the custard began to fully harden.  I set the bowl back on the hot water in the sauce pan to soften it, whisked it to break it up and make it more fluid knowing it would harden again.  When I ‘folded’ in the egg whites I ended up using a whisk again as the two were not blending perfectly.  The mixture became softer but everything hardened perfectly once in the pie crust and chilled for a bit in the refrigerator.
This is a unique and flavorful pie crust.  Even with the cornflakes being ground to crumbs it has a great crunch and a bit of a corn taste adding a different element to the pie.  I used Nature’s Path Organic Corn Flakes which are fruit juice sweetened.
·         1 ½ crushed cornflakes (about 3 cups to start); I put mine through the food processor
·         ¼ cup sugar
·         1/3 cup (about 5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, melted
Mix all ingredients and press into a 9 inch pie pan (I used a regular, not deep dish, pie pan).  Chill before using.  I put mine in the freezer.


  1. says

    I love finding old tried-and-true recipes that have been handed down from here to there. I always copy them down immediately just to make sure I don't miss out on their greatness.

    This is definitely one of those recipes. It looks delicious and feeds my citrus love. I agree that lemons are as much spring and summer as winter. They are fresh and clean and remind me of sunshine.

    (Have you had a chance to check out Spattered Page? We're hoping to go live by 3/26 so need feedback.)

    • says

      Agree with all you've said! I have loved prowling through these recipe collections to see what turns up. Have found some that are now family staples. We have also spoken about Spattered Page now too!

  2. says

    My cheeks are puckering even when you say it shouldn't 🙂 I just love lemons. Just the word alone freshens me up.
    That's a perfectly set filling. I've had cornflakes crust before too … it's different. I could go for this pie anytime!

  3. says

    I didn't realize you were so into vintage recipes – I had all of my mom and grandmother's recipe cards and transcribed them all into a book for my mom…and then tossed the cards. Had I known, I would have passed the cards on to you!

    • says

      I hope you saved a copy of the book for yourself! I know my family has so enjoyed traveling through my Grandmother/Great Grandmother's recipe box. It really has made us think about our ancestors in a different way, sharing the same food they made.

  4. says

    My oh my how I do love pie, and that pie takes the cake! Sorry, got a little carried away, its been one of those days…..sigh
    seriously, I love the cornflakes for the crust, and I've made curd but never a lemon pie, I will have to give it a try!
    As for vintage recipes, I love them, have to thank Christianna for that!

    • says

      Christianna has afforded us a chance to really think about vintage recipes in our monthly swap I agree! I feel connected to the people who made them by making them myself. Especially since they are written out in their handwriting. In our cyber age, you don't realize how personal reading someone's handwriting is I think. A dying opportunity…

  5. says

    I agree. Lemons yell spring. I have never heard of a cornflake crust. (But it reminds me of some reason of a “mock” apple pie my grandmother used to make out of Ritz crackers!) 🙂

    Yours looks delicious!

  6. says

    Recipes from my mother and grandmothers are my most treasured. They're not just a thread to my past but the truth is they work. I find I cling more to some old traditions than ever before. Weary of the constant cry of recipe ownership; I prefer to be reminded of the generosity of a time when recipes where freely shared between friends. I've just ordered some books from my hometown that were published in the 60's and I'm excited to see what they have in store.

    I love lemon meringue pie; I've got some Meyer lemons I need to use and they might end up in one. I know you can't use cookies like I do but the ones I love are a lemon ginger cookie and I'll tell you that bit of ginger is fabulous with a lemon pie.

    • says

      Your pie sounds great Barb and a very creative use of the cookies. It does make me think about different gluten free cookies that I might engineer a crust from; thanks for that.

      It feels different to me to share these recipe that risk loss to the passing of time without some attention to your point. I spend alot of time thinking of the women that created and passed them.

  7. says

    As Barbara notes above, recipes from my family are also my most treasured. Although much of the recipes produce meals that aren't to my liking (what is oleo?), I find myself flipping through those handwritten note cards from time to time. The recipes that do make their way into my kitchen are usually baked goods and desserts. Sometimes they are made with more wholesome ingredients, but mostly I think I make them to feel a connection to those amazing people, to walk in their shoes a bit, and to dream what it was like for them to be in their kitchens.

    • says

      I find the same Jay in that it is desserts for the most part that I make. They often have a different element that peaks my curiousity. There definitely is a period of time that seems to include alot of jello, canned soup and other such 'progressive' advances that I tend to skip over! I agree about connecting to one's ancestory via food too. I think of the person who penned the recipe the whole time I make and enjoy the recipe.

  8. Dr.Preeti Robert says

    Just came across ur site through Foodbuzz, loved ur Lemon chiffon pie and also Italian cream cake, am going to make soon.Amazing pictures.Share more of such vintage recipes ,let their be happiness everywhere.

  9. says

    This is brilliant Toni. I know what you mean about lemons, I think it's because I associated them with homemade lemonade and therefore associate them with Spring/Summer. The Cornflake crust sounds very intriguing! I also love vintage recipes because we can uncover recipes that may otherwise have been forgotten.

  10. says

    I love that you love vintage recipes! And this one is SUCH a throwback with the cornflake crust! But it looks so wonderful and bright (and yet, comforting). Also, that tin pie stand is just lovely.

  11. says

    I made this today, and it came out so beautiful! I was really intrigued by the cornflake crust, but I ended up making it with a pretzel crust instead because that is what I had on hand. So yummy. I can't wait to make it with cornflakes. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. memory maker says

    I’ve been using cornflakes for pie crust for over 40 years since my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at 13 months old. Lemon pie is my favorite and this recipe sounds like a winner. Can’t wait to try it.


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