Sometimes I crave classic old-fashioned cream pies. I recently came across a lovely recipe for Coconut Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook. This pie differs from many modern coconut pies because, in addition to the usual milk, egg yolks, and coconut, the recipe calls for grated lemon rind and lemon juice. The lemon adds a lovely sunny note to this rich creamy pie.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I updated the recipe I updated the spelling of coconut. “Cocoanut” is an archaic way of spelling coconut that I sometimes see in old recipes and cookbooks.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Put milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt, butter, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in grated lemon rind and coconut. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F.. Bake additional 60 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.
1/2 cup saltine crackers (about 12 crackers), rolled fine (I put the crackers in a plastic bag and crushed with a rolling pin.)
pastry for a 2-crust, 9-inch pie
Heat oven to 425° F. Put the sugar, water, egg, lemon juice, and lemon rind in a bowl; stir to combine. Add the crushed saltine crackers and chopped apples, stir. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to 350° F. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juice just begins to bubble.
Sometimes the basics are best. For example, old-fashioned Custard Pie is a delightful, delicate pie that makes a perfect treat on hot summer days. The hundred-year-old recipe I used was easy to make, and only contained five ingredients: eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla extract.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made the recipe, I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt. The one teaspoon of salt called for in the original recipe seemed like a lot. I couldn’t figure out why it was necessary to scald the milk prior to mixing with the other ingredients, so I skipped that step – and it worked fine. It did take longer for the filling to set than the recipe indicated. Maybe the time would have been reduced if I had scalded the milk first.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Put eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° F.. Bake additional 50 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.
When I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Sour Cream Pie with Dates, I decided to give it a try. This rich, custard-style pie has lots of embedded date pieces; and is a unique combination of old-fashioned goodness, and a sophisticated blend of sweet and sour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put sour cream, sugar, egg, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in dates. Place in pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with top crust. Seal and crimp. Cut slits in top crust (or poke top crust several times with a fork). If desired, brush with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is browned and filling has set.
Old-fashioned carrot pie is a delightful fall pie. It is very similar to pumpkin pie – but a little lighter and sweeter.
Here’s the original hundred-year-old recipe:
Two medium, “grocery-store” style, long, slender carrots are not nearly large enough to make 1 – 1 1/4 cups pureed carrot. The recipe must be calling for the large, thick relatively short carrots that home gardeners often raise. When I made the recipe, I used a 1-pound bag of carrots, and ended up with about the right amount of pureed carrot.
Peel and slice carrots. Put carrot slices in a saucepan and just barely cover with water. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are tender (approximately 20 – 25 minutes). Remove from heat and drain; then press through a sieve or puree (I used a Foley mill.) Measure the pureed carrot. There should be approximately 1 – 1 1/4 cups.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Combine all ingredients (except pie shell) in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (about 50-60 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.
I recently found a 1919 recipe for Blueberry Pie with Meringue that made my mouth water – yet it called for canned blueberries (which didn’t seem very appealing to me). A hundred years ago blueberries were available only a few weeks a year, and to preserve the goodness of the berries for later use, many were canned. As a result, cooks needed recipes that called canned blueberries.
I generally permit myself to make only minimal changes when making old recipes, but there exceptions to every rule. Since I just couldn’t bring myself to use canned blueberries – and since I really wanted to try this recipe, I decided to substitute fresh berries for the canned ones.
The recipe turned out well – though the baking time was longer when fresh blueberries are used. The blueberries in the filling were embedded in a lovely, almost custard-like sauce; and, when topped with an airy meringue, it created an irresistible pie.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Put egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar, flour (or corn starch) and salt in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Crush about a quarter of the blueberries with a fork or your fingers, then stir all the blueberries into the sugar mixture. Pour the blueberry mixture into the pie shell. Place in oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F. Cook an additional 35 minutes or until the filling thickens. (As the filling cooks, it will first be very juicy; and then will become thicker.)
In the meantime, make the meringue. Place egg whites in a bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl. Reduce oven temperature to 325 ° F. Place pie back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.
A hundred years ago, fresh fruit was scarce during the long winter months, so pies were often made using dried fruit. I found a wonderful recipe for a Fig Meringue Pie in a 1919 cookbook. The delectable fig filling is topped with a creamy meringue.
2 tablespoons sugar + 4 tablespoons sugar + a small amount of additional sugar
1 8-inch (small) baked pie crust
Remove stems from figs, then chop. (There should be approximately 2 1/2 cups of chopped figs.) Put chopped figs in a saucepan, add water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 325° F. Place egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; beat together. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot fig mixture into bowl with beaten egg mixture, stir quickly to prevent eggs from coagulating. Then put this mixture in the saucepan with the cooked figs while stirring. Return to heat (medium), and cook until the mixture thickens while stirring continuously. Pour into a pie shell which had been previously baked.
In a separate bowl make the meringue. Place egg whites in the bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add 4 tablespoons sugar while continuing to beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl; sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.