One recurring daydream I have is to open a pie shop somewhere remote. Like in an Appalachian hiking town or something. A small business that relies heavily on foot traffic doesn’t really make sense in a remote area…but hey, guys, I said it was a daydream not the best business idea I’ve ever had, OK!? Geez.
I think the real desire behind this daydream is to be left undisturbed to bake and eat pie all day, which is more of a weird vacation idea than a life aspiration.
So this pie is all about creamy vanilla. Since I realized the pie was going to turn out so monochromatic, I decided to jazz up the meringue. It’s SO easy. I’ll tell you how below.
For the filling:
4 egg yolks
14 oz. (one can) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup whole milk (2% is OK too, but don’t break my heart and ask about using skim milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon corn starch
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon corn starch
5 tablespoons sugar
2-3 drops food coloring (I used red and yellow)
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
3-4 tablespoons cold water
First make the crust. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and use a pastry blender or your clean hands to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture. It should look like small grains or pebbles. Then add in 3 tablespoons of cold water and try to press the dough into a ball. If the mixture seems too crumbly to stay in a ball, then add another tablespoon of cold water. Once a dough ball forms, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days. I usually make my pie crust a day or two ahead of time so it feels like less work on the day I make the pie. 🙂
Allow the dough to soften a little before rolling it out. Spray or butter the bottom of your pie pan and add your rolled out crust. I like to have this ready before I start on the meringue or filling because you want to cook the crust almost fully before filling it. So preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook the crust for 6-8 minutes or until it just begins to brown. Then remove from the oven until you are ready for the filling.
Next make the meringue. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, corn starch, and sugar until soft white, stiff peaks form. Divide into two or three bowls and add a drop or two of food coloring. Fold gently just to incorporate the color throughout. Meringue is all about the air that you incorporated into the eggs as you whipped them, so don’t over mix them now, deflating your work.
For the filling, in a pot combine the condensed milk, milk, vanilla and corn starch. Whisk over medium/low heat until warm. In another bowl add a few spoonfuls of the warm mixture to your egg yolks and stir. Then add a few more spoonfuls and repeat. The goal is to warm up the egg yolks so they won’t cook too quickly once you add them to the pot. Once warmed, add the yolk mixture to the pot and continue to cook and whisk over medium/low heat until the mixture thickens into a custard. If your mixture thickens too quickly, it can form lumps. Try to whisk these back into a smooth custard, but if you have difficulty, simply strain through a fine mesh sieve before pouring into your pie crust.
In a large pastry bag or ziplock bag with a corner cut off, spoon the meringue in alternating colors into the bag (yes, all into one bag). Pipe onto the hot filling. Then bake for 14-16 minutes until the meringue begins to brown on the peaks. Allow to cool before slicing and serving. Eat a slice of pie, daydream. You’ll feel better. 🙂 xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.