Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why My Sweet Acidic Pie is Better than Yours*

The Mister turned 40 last week and, having no baking time to attempt a Lord Baltimore follow up to last year's Lady Baltimore Cake (pictured here), I baked him a key lime pie.
The Mister's parents were in town to enjoy the key lime pie with us and MiL commented that I bake a really good key lime pie.
I do.  (False modesty is not my thing).
Which started me wondering, "Why is my key lime pie better than many others, when I follow the very basic egg yolks, lime juice, sweetened condensed milk in a graham cracker crust recipe?"
Since this is acid year and since we did not go into "the city" for ceviche as planned, so I can't write about that, I'll share my key lime thoughts here.
  1.  I don't add anything to lighten or stabilize. Key lime pie is not chiffon pie.
  2. I squeeze real limes (and, in this case, 14 itty-bitty key limes)
  3. I don't add anything to make it green.  Key Lime pie should be a pale yellow.
  4. This year I used good local eggs.
  5. I make my own graham cracker crust and use real butter in it.
  6. I pay close attention to the directions and whip the yolks until the color change happens before adding other ingredients.
  7. I whip cream for the topping and let eaters choose how much they want to add (although my whipped cream needed a bit more sugar and vanilla this year-- I experimented with a little coconut rum in the whipped cream and the result was inferior to the classic).
Hmm, maybe there is something to that mantra from the cooking shows I watch:  simple recipes require good ingredients and attention to detail.
And acid balances sweet and crunchy balances creamy.

*Probably not yours, because you probably don't make key lime pie or you follow the same recipe that I do.  But mine is definitely better than somebody's is.

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