December 5, 2018
Flapper pie is a prairie classic—a custard pie in a graham cracker crust, topped with meringue, it’s a go-to for many Alberta families when there’s something to celebrate. The beauty of the flapper pie, besides its deliciousness, is that you use the egg yolks in the custard filling, and beat the whites with sugar to make the meringue topping. Each step is simple—just plan to start your pie early enough to give it time to chill a bit before you serve it. The crust and custard can be prepared a day ahead of time if you like; just top with meringue and pop it back into a hot oven for a few minutes to brown when you’re ready to serve it. And if you don’t keep graham crackers (or crumbs) in the house, other cookies can be bashed into crumbs in a zip-lock bag with a rolling pin; Digestive cookies work particularly well.
Most flapper pie recipes are very similar; I started with one shared by Amy Jo Ehman, whose grandmother won first prize for hers at the Saskatoon fair in 1957, and added a few tweaks. Once you have a handle on this basic, diner-style pie, you can use it as a blank slate and do your own thing: slice a banana into the bottom of the crust before pouring in the filling, or pour in some melted chocolate. For a coconut cream pie use coconut milk and extract, and top the meringue with a sprinkle of toasted, shredded coconut. It’s nice to be able to make any number of custardy pies with one formula and technique, but it really doesn’t need any adornments—the simplicity of a flapper pie is what makes it so special.
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. In a small bowl, stir together the graham crumbs, sugar and butter. Remove a couple spoonfuls and set aside. Press the rest into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate and bake for 8 minutes, or until golden.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens. Remove from the heat and stir a spoonful of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks; quickly whisk back into the milk mixture and cook for another two minutes, until it thickens. Stir in the vanilla and pour into the crust.
To make the meringue, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until it holds soft peaks; gradually beat in the sugar, beating until it holds stiff peaks. Spread over the custard and sprinkle the extra crumbs over top. Return to the oven for 6-8 minutes, until golden. Cool and refrigerate for an hour before serving.
- Julie Van Rosendaal
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