Ugly Pies are the Tastiest

by Stefani on 3-February-2010

Pie Man

Around about Thursday of each week someone, some boy child or another, begins rifling through my old magazines, recipe card file and cookbooks. This is a sure sign of two things:

1) We have run out of dessert leftovers from the previous Sunday dinner.

2) He has realized that it is HIS turn to choose the upcoming Sunday dinner’s dessert.

I love this. It involves lots off oohing and ahhing, some lamenting the fact that not every recipe has a corresponding photograph, and some questions like, “Mama do we have a cream weigher?” (He needed to know if our cream was “heavy” or not.) There are inevitably some painstakingly scrawled ingredient additions to my grocery list… “chocklit, shuger and whooping creme.”

I might not bother with teaching them to spell. I’m enjoying their interpretive style altogether too much.

For a while now my oldest boy has been making his desserts on his own. I have to sit on the other side of the bar to watch silently and only assist when asked or when it is absolutely necessary – as in ” Whoa whoa whoa! That’s one TEASPOON of salt, not one TABLESPOON!”

This past week though, he declared that he doesn’t want to follow recipes anymore. He wants to experiment with his own creations.

Okay. Sure.

Well I could see right off that this was going to be harder than we both thought. He found out really quickly that it’s tough to just come up with a recipe out of no where. You kind of have to be pretty well versed in kitchen science, and have some sort of jumping off point – a basic cake that you can dress up in new ways, a simple cookie that you can turn into 4 completely different creations, a good ice cream base that can become the vehicle for so many other flavors.

In the end he decided that he wanted a pie. “A cold one.”

He already knew how to make a graham cracker crust. He compared and contrasted some basic custard recipes and came up with a sort of combined version. I taught him to whip cream, and he decided to flavor it with a little bit of almond extract. And…  in a stroke of pure genius, he added a layer of raspberry jam beneath the custard.

The result… in his own words, “Well it isn’t the prettiest pie, but I could stand here and eat the whole thing with a spoon.”

It’s an age old truth… the ugliest pies are always the tastiest. Always.

And so, without further ado, we give you:

Luke’s Raspberry Vanilla Cream Pie.

To Make the Crust

1 1/4 cup crushed graham crackers

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup melted butter.

Mix it all together until crumbly and then press it into the bottom and up the sides  of a greased pan. Put it in the freezer for 10 minutes or so and then straight into a preheat (350 F) oven for 8 minutes. Take it out and let it cool to room temp.

To Make the Custard

Into a saucepan put 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 2 1/2 cups milk (we used 2%), and 4 egg yolks. Cook this over medium  high heat, stirring constantly until it is quite thick. Add in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Now, melt half a jar of seedless raspberry jam (we used the microwave). Pour this into the cooled crust and spread. Put it into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to cool it a bit.

Next, carefully pour the custard on top of the raspberry jam. You have to go really slowly so as not to disturb the jam. Cover this with a layer of plastic wrap. Press the wrap right into the custard so that it doesn’t form a skin. When it’s at room temperature you can put it into the fridge for a couple of hours to set and get nice and cold.

Just before serving, top with whipped cream.

To Make the Whipped Cream

Pour a cup of heavy cream into a mixer and mix on medium high until it forms peaks. Add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and a half teaspoon of almond extract.


holly c. February 3, 2010 at 5:27 am

I was just thinking how much I love seedless raspberry jam yesterday, when I spooned some on my yogurt.

The pie sounds devine. Thank you for the recipe!

Dawn February 3, 2010 at 5:36 am

Love the cream weigher request! So cute!
Another parallel for us… Fionna has just started making her own muffins. She started out with the basic ingredients for our standard muffins (her own measurments) then added peppermint extract, choc. chips, and some vanilla. Needless to say… YUM!
His pie sounds divine!

Stefani February 4, 2010 at 11:41 pm

I never thought of MINT in chocolate chip brownies! Oh we’re so trying that. Will you share your muffin recipe? I’ve never really found a basic recipe for muffins that I love.

Dawn February 5, 2010 at 5:04 am

I will try to type it up and get it to you this weekend. It is a great basic all by itself and for adding fun stuff!
Might just have to make some of those brownies this weekend too 🙂 Yum!
Your little man inspired me to make a apple rhubarb pie yesterday… Oh, the comfort cooking has begun in earnest around here!

Crystal February 3, 2010 at 7:07 am

This sounds so good. Thanks Luke! I’ll be making this soon. 🙂

Heather Lee February 3, 2010 at 7:26 am

I know what you mean about the spelling. My 4 yr old loves to write and has stopped asking how to spell things, so her letters, notes, menu requests etc. have almost no vowels. Reading them is much like puzzling over vanity plates. I love it, though. Each scrap of paper is important.

Nancy February 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

Sounds delicious! So wonderful that he wants to experiement in the kitchen on his own. At least you know he’ll always be able to feed himself!

Jennifer February 3, 2010 at 8:57 am

Sounds delicious. Great idea to have the jam under the custard, I can understand why he would want to eat the whole thing with a spoon.

Debbie Rosenkranz February 3, 2010 at 11:21 am

Oh my goodness you all and he must just be bursting with pride. What a great accomplishment!!!
My little guy loves to be in the kitchen and he wants to experiment too.

I watched a film the other night that reminded me of your art post the other day as well as your post about the nature books and thought you and your guys might find it interesting. It is called Rivers and Tides and I think the artist’s name (if I recall correctly) is Andy Goldworthy. It is something along those lines anyhow.
He is an artist that uses found things from nature to build his art out in the nature he found it in and he fully expects it to reurn to the nature as well.

You might find it strange, but I found it fascinating and relaxing and I thought of you and your guys and thought it might really spark some interest and imagination for your guys. I hope you all can find it and like it. I have it on DVd and might be able to be persuaded to let ya’ll borrow it. I got mine from Amazon and I think they have snippets of the dvd to view.

Check it out. Tell me what ya think.

Stefani February 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

You know I have heard of this and even seen a preview somewhere, but we’ve never seen it! I’ve just noted though that we can watch it instantly on Netflix. It’s going into this weekend’s cue! Thanks for the reminder, Debbie. It looks right up our alley 🙂

Debbie Rosenkranz February 5, 2010 at 11:07 am

Enjoy it! Let me know what you all think. I really hope you like it.

Miko's Girl February 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Love the “whooping creme” because if a recipe calls for it, your waistline will certainly take a whooping!

Stefani February 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Amen sister! You’re preaching to the choir on that one!

jm February 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm

“I could stand here and eat the whole thing with a spoon.” That line made me laugh out loud!

Nancy February 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Yum! We love raspberry jam AND pie around here, so this sounds delicious. He did you proud!

I have an idea for your sons if they’re looking to create their own recipes. It’s a book
called Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, by Michael Ruhlman. (How could they resist a book with “Codes” in the title??) You might be able to find it at the library.

The book is centered on the idea that certain types of recipes are based on proportions between the ingredients. I bet they would find it intriguing.

Stefani February 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Oh that sounds like a perfect read for us right now! Thanks so much for the tip!

Aimee February 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Brilliant! It sounds delicious! Thanks Luke!

I absolutely love your blog…I’m learning a lot…and it’s fun to read…Thank you!

Carla February 5, 2010 at 7:40 am

How well I remember our youngest daughter wanting to cook. By herself. With less training than Luke obviously has. (Ahem.) She sashayed into the kitchen and whipped up: water, flour, salt, a little sugar, lemon juice and green food coloring. She tasted, pronounced it delicious and carefully tucked it into the fridge to “save” till we were ready to eat it. You know where this is going, don’t you? — With Mother tossing it after it had truly turned green.

Luke deserves kudos for such a fabulous-sounding pie!

(By the way, many years later that same little girl turned into a marvelous cook! But, alas, I didn’t teach her!)

Carine February 5, 2010 at 10:14 am

My mouth is watering just reading about it. Definitely going to try it! Luke, you can start thinking of your next invention already, looking forward to read about it!

jjillinois February 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm

My four year old helped me make a blueberry pie yesterday. How much pie dough and blueberries actually made it into the pie you ask? At least enough to make it tasty.

Thanks for the post. Love your work!

Aimee February 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

What a cool mom! That is wonderful how you give your children freedom in the kitchen..and Sunday desserts? Yes please.

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