08 January 2011

Amish Milk Pie

Note: To try and lend some semblance of organization to a year of pie, I've grouped various pies together (it also allows some easier comparisons). Each month or pair of months will be dedicated to a different "type" of pie, with seasonal ones sorted out to their seasons as best as I can manage. January and February are my "Sugar and Cream" months.

Our premiere pie is Amish Milk Pie, a rather simple creation. This is a single crust pie that's kinda hard to classify - it's not quite custard, definitely not cream. The bottom layer is almost like the gel in a pecan pie, but more solid. Gold stars for being a "pantry pie" - one would likely have all the ingredients on hand regardless of the season - and once you have the crust ready, this could go from pantry to plate in about 2 hours (after chilling - a critical step).

sugars and flour
"drizzled" evap milk
cinnamon, pre-clumps

The filling is basic - brown and white sugars, a bit of flour, with evaporated milk "drizzled" on top. I would offer that 1¼ cups of milk is a bit more than drizzling, but the general idea is not to mix the milk with the dry ingredients. You sprinkle the pie with cinnamon before baking; I found that in the translation from counter to oven, the cinnamon floated together into clumps on the sea of evap milk, so it's not the prettiest thing. (My first thought was 'Moon' Pie - no, not that one.)

see the resemblance? -->

My recipe (from Ken Haedrich's tome on the subject, aptly titled Pie) warns that the filling will be soupy when the baking is done. I'll say! The evaporated milk doesn't really set up at all, and the two tablespoons of dotted butter on top doesn't help matters. The milk did form a thin skin across the top, but you could see the hidden lake below and it broke through in a few places (see the photo above).

The recipe also notes that the pie should cool 30 minutes before serving, with leftovers refrigerated and later warmed slightly to take off the chill. I vote for refrigerating before serving any of it, as the cold helps it to set up. Without that, the pie is very runny and the area of the removed slice fills in with a disconcerting buttery-milky liquid.

Be aware - this pie is crazy sweet. If you've ever sampled sweetened condensed milk on its own, that will give you a good idea of the flavor and intense sweetness of this pie. (And the texture, sort of). The pie is also rather thin (½ to ¾ inch), but that's probably a good thing to avoid lapsing into a sugar coma. I strongly encourage you to cut this pie into small pieces (sixteenths would not be out of the question) and serve with strong black coffee.

A brief note on the crust. The recipe says to "sculpt the pastry into an even band, just below the rim" of the pie plate. Being a nervous crust newbie, I elected to just trim the crust off at the edge of the plate. After baking the pie, the filling was quite a bit below the crust, resulting in a tenuous cracker-like crust edge that toppled when the slice was cut. If I make this again, I would certainly trim the crust inside the rim of the plate.

Next week: A Hoosier State two-fer plate.

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