Atlantic Beach Pie from Bill Smith

Some folks say that lemon is the best flavor for dessert, especially in the summer. I adore lemon meringue pie but rarely bake it myself. When a friend let me know about a lemon pie sensation I just had to try, I leapt at the chance. Sharyl, you were so right!

Atlantic beach pie

Bill Smith, chef at Crook’s Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC, developed a twist on an old-fashioned cracker-crust refrigerator pie. He calls it Atlantic Beach pie, and let me tell you, it’s fabulous. Unexpected. Dead simple. You need to make it now. 

Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie 

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers (about 6 ounces or 60 crackers)
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream, for garnish
  • Coarse sea salt, for garnish

First, preheat your oven to 350˚F.

Make the crust. Crumble the saltines (I used my food processor), add the sugar, and knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press this mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate it for 15 to 20 minutes, then bake it at 350˚ for 18 minutes or until the crust is golden. It should look well suntanned.

Take the crust out of the oven, and whip together the filling. Beat the egg yolks into the condensed milk, then add lemon and/or lime juice, and beat again until it’s well combined. Pour this filling into the pie crust (it doesn’t have to be completely cool) and bake for 16 minutes, until the filling is set.

Take the pie from the oven and let it cool on a rack to shed some heat, then refrigerate it until quite cold.

At serving time, plop a generous amount of whipped cream on top, sprinkle it with just a bit of coarse sea salt, and serve.