Now that the holidays are upon us I have the baking bug. I love to bake but out here in AZ it’s usually too darn hot to turn on the oven. But, recently, the temps at night are getting pretty chilly. As I type this the weather says it’s 34 degrees!
So, my first big baking project was a key lime pie. I don’t remember ever having key lime pie but it’s one of Chanin’s favorites and it sounded tasty.
The main cookbook I use for baking is called Baking Illustrated, from the editors of Cooking Illustrated (magazine) and that show of TV called America’s Test Kitchen. Basically they test recipes using all types of variables. For example, for pie crust they’ll try it with all butter, all shortening, and a combination of butter and shortening as well as combinations of other ingredients.
On to the pie!
We both think it turned out great and had a ton of flavor. And, it was one of those times where I can’t think of anything I would do different next time. For those interested the recipe is below.
- 1 1/4 cups flour, plus some for rolling out dough
- 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4-5 tablespoons ice water
- Process flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until mixed. Add shortening and mix until texture of coarse sand. Scatter butter over mixture. Cut in butter until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs. Butter bits should be no larger than small peas. Note: I just used a manual pastry cutter since we don’t have a large enough food processor. If anyone wants to get me one for Christmas feel free!
- Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the dough until the dough sticks together and add more ice water as necessary if the dough won’t come together. Note: I used about 5 tablespoons of water. It’s better to be too wet than too dry because you can add flour when rolling it out later. Flatten dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days) before rolling.
- Remove dough from fridge and let stand until malleable (about 15 minutes for me). Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs onto rolling surface and then roll out dough to a 12-inch circle. Add crumbs as you roll to evenly coat the crust. The crumbs give the crust a nice flavor and some extra crispness and holds up well to the creamy filling. Your pie pan should be a 9-incher. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it over the pie pan. Make sure to carefully push the dough into all of the corners. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes and then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.
- Adjust oven rack to lower middle and heat to 375 degrees. Remove dough from freezer and press a double lined layer of foil into the crust. Then add your pie weight. I used rice because I couldn’t find a pie crust weight at our local store. Be sure the rice (or weight) goes up the side of the crust to hold it up. Also, the foil should cover the rim of the crust so it doesn’t get overcooked. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (25 did it for me). Remove foil and weights and bake again for another 5 minutes or so. Cool on a wire rack. The crust won’t be fully cooked by this time but will cook a little more after we add the filling.
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Key Lime Pie Filling
- 4 teaspoons grated zest plus 1/2 cup strained juice from 3 or 4 limes (4 smaller limes worked for me)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Whipped Cream Topping
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar for us simple folk)
- 1/2 lime, sliced paper thin and dipped in sugar (optional, for garnish)
Making the Pie
- Whisk the zest and yolks in a medium nonreactive (usually glass for us simple fold) bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in the milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken (about 30 minutes).
- Pour filling into crust; bake until the center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, 15-17 minutes (right about 17 for me). Return pie to a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.
- Whip the cream using a chilled bowl. Whip to very soft peaks then slowly add sugar until whipped to just-stiff peaks. Plop the whipped cream onto the pie and you’re done!