While at the dance last weekend I was able to get some free key limes and I could not pass up the chance for some free fruit! I have eaten key lime pie before when I worked in a restaurant years ago, mostly the frozen green kind but this will be my first time actually making my own.
I did some research and found out that key lime pies were first made in the Florida Keys back in the 1850s with the advent of canned sweetened condensed back in 1856, as there were very few cows in the Florida Keys at that time and no refrigeration. The very resourceful cooks of the time came up with the pie using lime juice. Now the original pie used a pastry crust and over time the pie crust was changed to graham cracker crumbs, which is the popular choice still today. Now many of the pie disagreements come with serving the pie without any topping or topping the pie with a meringue or with whipped cream. Just too many choices!
I have a great book on pies and tarts that has a recipe for Key Lime pie that I am going to try out as Carole Wright is a great pie maker and instructor and none of her pies have let me down yet, so I figure if this is going to be my first Key Lime pie I better start off with someone who knows what they are doing!
Key Lime Pie – Recipe adapted from Great Pies & Tarts by Carole Walter
Crumb Crust -(Make a 9-inch crumb crust made with graham cracker crumbs, baked)
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Position oven rack to the lower 1/3 of the oven. Butter the pie pan very well and dust with flour and shake out any excess.
Melt the butter. I used the microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and then microwave again for 30 seconds. The butter should be melted. Set aside to cool.
You can buy graham cracker crumbs already crushed at the store, but what fun is that? I just put 9 full size graham crackers into a gallon size freezer bag and then crushed with a rolling-pin. This way you know the crumbs are fresh and who wants stale graham cracker crumbs for a fresh pie?
Pour the crushed graham crackers into a small bowl, add the sugar and stir. Pour the melted butter over the graham cracker crumbs and mix well.
Now dump the buttery crumbs into your prepared pie pan and press the crumbs across the bottom and sides of the pan. I used a spoon and then flattened the bottom real well with a flat bottom glass.
Now you can either wrap the crust in plastic wrap and place in the fridge or freezer until firm which will make a crumbly crust. I wanted a firm crust that you can cut and it will hold the filling so I baked the crust.
Place the pie pan onto a heavy bottom baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until you smell the crust. The surface will feel set, but the bottom will not firm up until the pie shell cools. Let pie crust cool while you make your filling.
3 large egg yolks
1 (14-0z) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream, well chilled
2 Tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lime for garnish, optional
Make the filling
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees farenheit. Position the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.
Place the yolks in the large bowl. Beat the yolks on medium speed until light in color. Now, slowly add the condensed milk to the beaten egg yolks beating on high for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the lime juice and lime zest and beat on medium speed until well blended.
Pour the filling into your prepared crumb crust from earlier. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the center of the filling feels set when touched with your finger. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Once cooled, refrigerate pie.( The pie can be made up to this point , 3 days in advance)
Make the topping
In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, (be sure there is absolutely no oil on the beaters or the cream will not whip) Whip the cream on medium speed until it starts to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until firm peaks are formed. Don’t over beat or you will have butter!
You can be fancy and place whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe the cream onto the top of the pie or do as I do and spoon the topping onto the cooled pie, mounding more into the center and tapering to the edges. Garnish with lime slices if you like. Now refrigerate the pie until ready to serve.
Storage: Cover any left over pie with foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days. This pie can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Verdict: I took the pie to the square dance at the Casselberry Hoedowners and all the key lime pie experts gave a thumbs up to the pie and I took home an empty pie pan! You notice real key lime pie is not green like the store-bought pies in the freezer section with their food coloring. Thanks goes out to Dick Nordine for the free key limes otherwise I would have not learned the history of the key lime pie or tried out this great pie recipe. I hope you get to try this pie recipe out for yourself.