Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Recipe Wednesday - Coconut cream pie

making pie
Whenever I bake there are certain things I gather together, it is really quite ritualistic.

I like to have time and not be rushed. For me when I make pie I always take out my Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, printed in 1950. I remember having to walk through my mother in-laws house after she'd passed away in the United States two years ago. It was as she'd left it, a book unfinished by her favourite chair her spectacles in the bathroom.

I had never been to this apartment before, I had visited her in a different house. Looking out her kitchen window I could see the cold winter sky she'd written about with the feeling of snow. I imagined the cookies and snikerdoodles she said she had baked. Her kitchen was tiny, but laid out well. I could see the words she would have had clear in her mind as they scrawled onto the Christmas card we had received only two months before.

We were here to divide her things I knew the most important things for me to cherish her memory would be cookbooks, utensils, linen, blankets. This cookbook was one of the things I took as well as a sifter, rolling pin, measuring cups and mixing bowls. I wanted to have these things to share with my children so they could touch the things her hands had touched hundreds of times before.
mum's stuff
We always talk about her when we bake, Eliza loves to sift the flour turning the little bead on the handle. She talks of Gramma the most, funny as she never had the chance to meet her. I think though that there is a very strong bond between them. Eliza was only 19 months old when we made our journey to see Aaron's mum, tried to let her see her smallest grandchild at least once. It was in vain though. I tell her how much Gramma wanted to see her to meet the little girl she'd spoken to and heard so much about. I have since had another baby girl and she too is getting up on the stool and wanting to mix and stir. I will tell her all about her Gramma too.

The recipe for the coconut custard filling comes from the Betty Crocker book mentioned above. The pastry recipe comes from the "Jamie does..." book. I use this as I find it to be just right and his directions are easy to follow.

Coconut cream pie
me oh my
For the pastry.
250g plain flour,plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
125g good quality unsalted cold butter,cut into cubes
1 large egg beaten
a splash of milk
oil to grease the pie dish

You can make your pastry by hand or with a food processor. From a height seive your flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips work the butter into the flour and icing sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.Add the egg and milk and gently work it together using your hands till you have a ball.Don't overwork the pastry too much or it will become chewy and elastic. (if you have used a food processor, turn it off as soon as it just comes together. Take it out and then gently bring it all together.Sprinkle some flour on your work surface, and pat the ball into a thick flat round. Sprinkle with a little more flour, then wrap the pastry in clingfilm and pop into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour, and carefully roll out your pastry, turning and dusting it every so often,until you've got a circle about 0.5cm thick. Roll the pastry over the rolling pin, then unroll it onto the greased pie dish, making sure you push it to the sides. Trim the excess pastry and use it to patch any holes, then prick the base of the case with a fork,cover with clingfilm and pop into the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 deg.
Meanwhile make your coconut custard filling.

Coconut custard filling
Mix in a saucepan....................2/3  cup sugar
                                     1/2 tsp of salt
                                     2 1/2 tbsp cornflour
                                     1 tbsp plain flour

Stir in gradually....................3 cups of full cream milk. 

cook over a moderate
heat stirring constantly
until mixture thickens and boils.
Boil for 1 min. Remove from heat.
Slowly stir half the mixture
into.................................3 egg yolks lightly

Then blend into hot mixture into 
saucepan. boil for 1 min more, stir
constantly. Remove from heat and
blend in.............................1 tbsp butter
                                     1 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Now blend in ........................3/4 cup shredded coconut.

Allow to cool, drape a damp tea towel over the top to prevent a skin forming.

Back to the pie shell.   
....................................500ml of thickened cream
                                    2 tbsp caster sugar
                                    1/2 cup shredded coconut.

Take a large piece of baking paper and lay it into the uncooked pastry case. Take some uncooked rice, beans or baking beads if you are lucky enough to have them, fill the case right to the top.and blind bake for 10 min in your hot oven. Carefully remove the rice, beans or beads and the baking paper. Be very careful here I have dropped these before and they went everywhere, I am still finding beads.
The shell needs another 10min to cook,it needs to be firm and almost biscuit like. remove and allow to cool.

Putting it all together.
Fill the pie shell with the cool or slightly warm custard. Refrigerate this with some clingfilm over the top, for 30 min. In the meantime whip up 500ml of thickened cream sweetened with 2 tbsp of sugar and a dash of vanilla.
In a warm oven 160 deg toast up 1/2 cup of shredded coconut.(From personal experience be careful here, it takes about 5 minutes. I made 3 lots before it was perfectly toasted. Nobody likes burnt coconut.)

Top the pie with the whipped cream and scatter the toasted coconut on top. If you can let it cool and set for an hour you will have a nicely set easy to cut pie.

Now put the kettle on for some tea, and enjoy your slice of pie.


  1. Gorgeous story, gave me warm fuzzies and maybe a little tear in my eye but sometimes I'm too ashamed of my softness to admit to. It reminds me of the treasured pocessions of my Grandmother's kitchen and how I always refer to them as "Great Grandma Murray's such and such" when cooking with my little girls (now in their 20s)

  2. What a beautiful story. I think connecting with someone through cooking in some way or another is a wonderful thing.
    My mum used to make a coconut cream pie from an American pie book from the 70's. A very well used book.