Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Post From Miss Tana (aka Eatinist #2)!

Howdy! Eatinist 1 is recovering from a marathon pie-baking she embarked upon the other night to compete in the Greenpoint Open Studios Pie Bake-Off, so I, Eatinist Bitch 2 for the purposes set forth here, will be your guest blogger today.

Last Saturday my stemom and I were walking through the produce aisle in Wal-Mart when I exclaimed in squeals of exaltation "Key limes! OhMyGod! Key limes!" I had been on the hunt for the elusive fruit for the last two summers in New York but seemed to keep missing their season. I knew they could be found because 1) my boss's wife had made Key lime pie from fresh Key lime juice and 2) it's New York. Of course there are Key limes to be found somewhere.

Either way, I hadn't seen any. And here I am, just over a month in rural Wisconsin, getting used to the fact that I can't find any decent Indian food, and here I've stumbled upon Key limes in the abundant produce aisle of The Evil Empire. I wonder who Sam Walton had to sell his soul to in order to get bags and bags of that adorable little fruit shipped to The Middle Of Nowhere, Middle America.

So I snagged two bags of limes, on the off-chance that this was a blip in the universe and, contrary to my stepmother's reassurances that they have them almost year-round, I'd never see them again. Carpe Diem, etc. But I didn't have a recipe handy and I know that the recipe for the pie is almost important as using fresh Key limes (don't get it twisted-- you want Key limes and you don't want them bottled. Unless you don't really like pie. Then it doesn't matter, does it?), so I didn't pick anything else up. After checking with Eatinist 1 for a recipe recommendation, I finally got to the one place in town that carries sweetened condensed milk (it's a small town), corralled my little brother, Ben, and got to it!

Ben loves to bake. He doesn't get too many opportunities as his mother's not big on baking and my dad's diabetic and loves things he can't want (and usually isn't willing to make things that are diabetic-friendly). But since I'm living with them and get restless when I go too long without presiding over and communing with the oven, Ben and I have begun baking together.

The recipe is from Joy of Baking and can be found here. Because I can never leave well enough alone, I amended it a titch. We'll get there.

Key Lime Pie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven.

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/4 c (25 g) graham cracker crumbs (can use crushed digestive biscuits)
2 tblsp (30 g) granulated white sugar
6 1/2- 7 tblsp (70-85 g) unsalted butter, melted (The original recipe calls for 5-6 tablespoons of butter but my crust came out a little try with 6, so I'd probably add a half-to-a-whole tablespoon more. You can always start with the base amount and add more if you think it needs it.)
About a tsp of ground cloves
About a tsp of ground cinnamon
(I say "About" because I just shook the containers a few times over the dry ingredients until I thought it looked like enough. It's how I roll).

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. The cinnamon you can probably be a little more liberal with, but watch out for the cloves. They'll add a nice depth to the crust and a lovely contrast to the lime filling, but you don't want to overpower the pie. After Ben had mixed the basics together I added the cinnamon and cloves because Ben tens to get a little overzealous when he shakes things and Key Lime Clove Pie is not what we're craving.

Mix in the melted butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a well-greased 9-inch (23 cm) pie or tart pan. If you're feeling whimsical, add another sprinkling of cloves to the top of the crust.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.

3 large egg yolks
One 14-oz can (390 g) can sweetened condensed mil k
1/2 c (120 mL) Key lime juice
2 tsp grated zest
Before you begin to mix anything together, I strongly suggest juicing (or, in my house, "squeezing") the limes. Luckily, I have my Handy Little Brother and he's got strong muscles from junior high football so I assigned him lime detail.

If you're interested in saving time and creating little mess, perhaps letting an 11-year-old handle this part isn't in your best interest. Half an hour later, the table was covered in sticky liquid citrus, half a roll of paper towels was gone, and the limin was finished.

Anyway, while he was juicing, I was mixing.

In the electric mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, or in another bowl that you use with your hand mixer, as shown below (God, I miss my stand mixer. *sad face*), beat the egg yolks until they are pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes. Perhaps 3-4 with the hand mixer). If you're SOL on the electric mixer AND the hand mixer and you're just using a fork and your forearm, like I did in college, bless your heart.

When the yolks are fluffy, gradually add the condensed milk and beat until you have a light and fluffy mixture (3-5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the lime juice and the lime zest.

You might also consider getting your zest together before you begin mixing things. I mixed the yolks and milk and then used the skeletons of those limes Ben was finished with to grate the zest directly into the mixture. Doing this also means I approximated the measurements. I eyeball. It's what I do.

Remove your crust from the refrigerator where it's supposed to have been chillin' and pour the filling into the crust and don't tell the other people in your house about it, otherwise you might end up with this:

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the filling is set. I went for 15 minutes and it was still a little moist. Who knows why... maybe it was the altitude or perhaps I just didn't preheat the oven long enough. What did we say about me and exact measurements? Precisely. If you have a Handy Little Brother, dispatch him to gently shake and jiggle the pie while he checks the status of its doneness. Ben showed little restraint with the shaking and we were happy it was sufficiently immobile so we turned off the oven and called it done.

Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. I don't have a wire rack, so I set it on top of one of the stove grates. This is my dad's FAVORITE pie so it's not like it was actually going to make it to the cool stage anyway. If you're a traditionalist, though, or just someone cooking for people who have the willpower to wait, cool the pie completely and then cover and refrigerate until serving time. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a couple of days.

Whipped cream:
1 c (240 mL) heavy whipping cream
2 tblsps (25 g) granulated white sugar
In a separate bowl (I used a metal bowl I stored in the freezer for about 15 minutes to make the whipping quicker), beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until, once again, soft peaks form. This is another good step for Handy Little Brother to help with.

Give the beaters you used to your sous chef Benjamin and your dad in a vain attempt to keep them appeased until the pie is cooled and ready to serve. Either pipe or place mounds of whipped cream on top of the filling.

And if you're serving other people, for the love of Moses, keep the pie out of reach of this guy:

Makes 1 9-inch (23 cm) pie or tart.


  1. Hurray! This looks GREAT! I'm so happy to be a guest-blogger for you. :)

  2. This pie sounds delicious! I look forward to a pumpkin post soon!!

  3. nice Tana!!! what a good guest blogger!