I feel like I'm just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for me here - this summer has been on of great change and transition for so many in my family. Part of resurfacing from all of the stress and pressure is remembering how much I love to cook and bake for others. I've always enjoyed making big meals for my loved ones - ask my husbands' roommates. Is is really that crazy to host a family dinner at a house that isn't even yours? Then call me crazy, I guess. But you know what? It's summer, and I feel like I can finally breathe - and I want to bake ten pies, damnit.
This love of cooking - and let's be honest, especially baking - is one of those "Amanda feels like herself" things that has remained a constant thread in my life. Maybe one of my favorite foods to play with is pie. To me, it's a chemistry - perfecting the crust and figuring out how to make it look pretty. Nailing the filling and maybe even adding my own touch. Once I even made an apple pie spiced with only sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon. And yes, apple pie is one of my standards and favorites to whip together. But after a while, a girl haw to branch out and try a different kind of filling.
The pie that brought us together - a little more zesty this summer!Fast forward nine years - I'm baking another one of those coconut pies. This time, I'm adding a bit of lime zest to the crust (a trick my sister taught me) and some juice to the custard itself. My hope is that it evokes the perfect balance of bright citrus with creamy coconut - without evoking sunscreen. This time around, my husband isn't the only one belly up to a back patio table full of frozen coconut pie - it's also a hit with my toddler! The little one is still a bit too little for pie, but I imagine she'll love it just like the rest of us do.
Without further ado, here's the recipe I follow for coconut pie. I will include a basic crust, but I am not kidding - I could probably write 500 words on making pie crust alone. The passion is real, y'all.
Coconut Custard Pie
Blend 2.5 cups AP flour with 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar. Cut a stick of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of shortening, both chilled, into the flour with a dough cutter. The mix will blend into a coarse meal.
Remember, less is more when it comes to handling a pie crust. Add 4 tbsp of ice water and work dough with hands just until it starts to come together. Add up to 4 more tbsp of water as needed. ***Note: I use chilled vodka instead of water, but that's just personal preference.
Divide dough in half, flatten into round disks, and chill for at least one hour before using.
1.5 cups milk; 1 cup sugar; 2 eggs, beaten; 3/4 cup shredded coconut; 3 tbsp AP flour; 1 tbsp butter; 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into unbaked pie crust (9 inch pan), bake at 350 F for 50 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes clean. My pies always get a nice toasty crust when they're just right.
To me, summer is all about the bright notes of citrus, the clean crispness of mint, and the sweet juiciness of berries. I love a good key lime pie and anything with pineapple or coconut transports me to the beach. They say scent is the sense most closely tied to memory, but I think taste has to be a close second. What flavors invoke sunny summer memories from your childhood? What are the flavors you're introducing your kids to this summer? @pi3sugarpi3 (Does my handle make a little more sense now?)