Florida Orange Grove Pie

If you google national food holidays, you’ll find that there is a food item or dish celebrated every day of the calendar year!  Whether it’s national chocolate day, national donut day, national pomegranate day, or national beef/chicken/pork day, it doesn’t matter to a foodie.  It’s just an opportunity (in my case, excuse) to try a new recipe.

Well, today we are celebrating national pie day!  The letter for “p” in the Greek alphabet is π (pi).  In mathematics, it is an irrational number used to describe the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter – the ratio being:



Well, you get the idea of an irrational number as in it is irrational to go on any further!  For practical uses, pi is rounded off to 3.14—and, thus, March 14 is Pi(e) Day!

Last week, I made this Florida orange grove pie as a birthday dessert for my sister.  Since her hubby eats a gluten free diet, this pie filled the bill with its meringue pie crust.  Both of them as well as Roger and I had all just recently returned from a trip to Florida, so the pie checked off a lot of boxes.

I’m so glad I tried this new pie recipe even though I am not a fan of meringue.  If I hadn’t, I would never have gotten to taste the fabulous pie filling which was out-of-this-world good.  It’s an egg custard flavored with fresh lemon juice and orange zest.  After you make the custard, you lighten it with freshly whipped cream; and then you fold in Mandarin oranges.  I’m already picturing it made into a trifle with vanilla pound cake.  The trifle would make a great summertime dessert for a family BBQ.  It would be equally fabulous as a standalone pudding topped with whipped cream.  If I make another pie, I will probably swap the meringue for a graham cracker pie crust because meringue just doesn’t do it for me.  So, meringue and citrus lovers, do try this pie—and for non-meringue lovers, think graham cracker crust or trifle!

Happy Pi(e) Day!

One year ago:  Hearty Beef Soup

Two years ago:  Bailey’s Irish Cream Sandwich Cookies

Three years ago:  McDonald’s Copycat Shamrock Shake

Four years ago:  Pistachio and Chocolate Cake

Five years ago:  Chocolate Pudding Redux

Six years ago:   Chocolate Stout Cake

Florida Orange Grove Pie

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  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 tbl. finely chopped walnuts
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbl. fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon should do it)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbl. orange zest, divided (I needed two oranges)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbl. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 (20-oz.) jar refrigerated mandarin orange segments (such as Del Monte), drained, divided (I used canned Mandarin oranges)


Preheat oven to 275° F.  Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute; beat in cream of tartar. Increase speed to high, and beat until medium peaks form, about 2 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Spread meringue on bottom and up sides of a deep 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle chopped walnuts over edge of meringue, lightly pressing to adhere.

Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 1 hour.  Cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

Whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the zest, and remaining 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar in the top of a double boiler.  Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Place top of double boiler in a bowl or pan of ice water, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until completely chilled, about 20 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. 

Beat cream and powdered sugar with electric mixer on high speed until medium peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir 1⁄2 cup of the whipped cream into egg-citrus mixture.  Gently fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into egg-citrus mixture.

Gently fold 1 cup of the mandarin orange segments into mixture.

Transfer to prepared meringue pie shell, smoothing top.  Leaving about a 1-inch border of custard showing, mound remaining whipped cream on top of pie, making a well in the center. (If you notice from my photo of the finished pie, I forgot to leave the custard border—much prettier with the border!)

Arrange remaining orange segments on top center of pie.  You get extra points for a concentric circle!  Sprinkle with remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon orange zest.  Chill 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Fran’s Notes

I always enjoy hearing the origin of recipes and thought you might, too.  Here’s the blurb that accompanied the recipe:

“This is a great old-timey angel pie with a crust made of baked meringue instead of pastry. In a state where orange groves still cover miles of farmland, of course a cook would turn to citrus to pile atop the crisp candy-like crust.  This recipe was originally published in 1961 in The Junior League of Tampa’s cookbook, The Gasparilla Cookbook.”

 Source:   A recipe from the February 2018 issue of Southern Living magazine

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