Old-Fashioned Lemon Crumb Pie

Slice of Lemon Crumb PieWhen browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook, I came across a recipe for Lemon Crumb Pie.

Recipe for Lemon Crumb Pie
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1923)

I was intrigued by the statement that the recipe author has used this recipe for 38 years. Even though all recipes I make for this blog are old, this one seemed particularly old-fashioned and called for using bread soaked in water to help thicken the pie filling.

The pie turned out well, and is very similar to Lemon Meringue Pie. I never would have guessed that there was bread in the baked pie. There’s something to be said for recipes that have been made (and maybe refined) over the course of 38 years .

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Lemon Crumb Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 slice bread torn into small pieces (about 1 cup)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

Grated rind of 1 lemon

2 egg yolks

dash salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 8-inch (small) pie shell


2 egg whites

2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put bread pieces and water in a mixing bowl and let soak for 20 minutes. Then add sugar, lemon juice, grated lemon rind, egg yolks, salt, and melted butter; beat until combined. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake until the mixture is hot and bubbly and thickened (about 30 – 35 minutes). Watch pie closely because the filling will easily boil over.

To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in the sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the baked pie, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.



14 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Lemon Crumb Pie

  1. It sounds very interesting and your version is very pretty. Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Brophy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary August 25, 1932. They were married in Lansing, Iowa and had 11 children. Five were still living in 1932.

      1. Newspaper archives! Their anniversary party was listed. I am sure you are right about how many of them she must have made–probably on wood stoves, or coal stoves, or both!

        1. I’ve got to learn more about how to navigate newspaper archives. You sure find interesting things. I’m sure people back then understood how to keep the fire in wood or coal stoves at the right level for baking things like pies – but it seems like it must have been complicated.

          1. I am sure it was. My great-grandmother and both grandmothers talked about cooking on wood stoves. I had a colleague in Texas once who could bake the most incredible biscuits and cobblers in a cast iron dutch oven using the coals from a campfire, and in South Africa, bread cooked in a dutch baby over coals and with coals on the lid. I suppose it is all about how you learned, depending on what you had. If I find you a recipe for a cobbler in a cast iron dutch oven, will you fire up your campfire and try it? Think how it will build your authenticity creds! I do enjoy learning about the recipes you find and try.

    1. I think that bread soaked in water is basically being used as a replacement for flour. I’m guessing that back when people regularly ate homemade bread that there may have been more stale bread that they were looking for ways to use.

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