Last week was Ginger Man’s birthday, and I promised I’d bake him any kind of cake he wanted. Of course, he wanted pie. Key lime pie. I’ve never made one before, but that hasn’t stopped me from cooking yet. So I turned to ol’ Faithful, my “Best Recipe” cookbook and got to it.
I love the science behind the food, and the people at Cook’s Illustrated really know what they are doing. They go through bunches of different recipes, tweak the methods and ingredients to achieve desired results, and test multiple versions before laying out the Best Recipe. To date, they haven’t failed me yet. They promised a pie that was full of limey citrus flavour, with a creamy texture and a sweet graham cracker crust. The recipe delivered.
I wanted to toss a bit of toasted coconut on top of the whipped cream, but Ginger Man was so excited to eat it I barely had time to snap a photo, as you can see. I love my hexagonal pie pan. It’s old and aluminum and my Sissy gave it to me, so I cherish it. The shape makes for perfect gigantical slices. The pie was absolutely delicious. We even had a slice for breakfast the next day (a full day’s supply of Vitamin C)! I did add two drops of green food coloring to the filling, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. I think the crust could have used a bit less sugar (as could the whipped cream), but not too much less. Next time, I think that is the only other change I’ll make.
Some traditional recipes specify Key Limes, a tiny little lime with a thin skin that isn’t easy to juice or zest. Some say they are sweeter than regular limes, but they both taste limey enough to me. I say go with the big limes. Easier to find, easier to work with, and you only need three or four as opposed to a dozen. Speaking of zest, this is where a microplane grater comes in mighty handy.
Another interesting variation among recipes is whether or not the pie filling is baked. The recipe uses eggs, and even though the acidity of the lime juice will essentially “cook” the egg protein and curdle the milk to solidify the filling, I think The Best Recipe got it right by opting to bake the pie a few minutes. It sets up well, doesn’t hurt the crust, and there are no worries about a runny pie making for runny poo. Sorry, but it had to be said.
Having never made a Key Lime pie before, I’m so glad to have started with The Best Recipe. There are so many variations available (using ingredients like sour cream, cream cheese, pudding, gelatin, flavourings, meringue topping, and more), the possibilities are endless. Here’s one from Martha Stewart that is pretty close to the version in my cookbook: Martha Stewart’s Key Lime Pie.
- Take the photo before Ginger Man demands birthday pie.
- Leftover juice and zest can be frozen for later use.
- Make individual pies in a muffin tin!