Our daughter Katherine is getting married to Chad Stoll this June. On one of their visits we got into a discussion about favourite pies, which for Chad and my husband, Clint, is flapper pie.
A flapper pie has a graham wafer crumb crust and a cream filling using milk, egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar. This is topped off with a meringue. I discovered the flapper pie name is unique to the Canadian Prairies. Those from Eastern Canada and British Columbia aren’t familiar with the term flapper pie.
In A Century of Canadian Home Cooking by Carol Ferguson and Margaret Fraser, they explain that in the 1920s flapper pie, butterscotch cream, banana cream and coconut cream pies were always on the menu in the prairie cafes that were usually run by Chinese cooks.
Why it was called a flapper pie I don’t know other than it was the era of the “flapper,” or the 1920s when young women grew bolder, wore short skirts, bobbed hair and smoked in public.
I remember when Clint and I were engaged I decided to make a flapper pie to impress him.
Well, it was a runny failure. I think the proportion of cornstarch to milk was not great enough to sufficiently thicken the cream filling. My mom and I made repeated pies to get a recipe that worked.
A question often asked is what is the difference between a flapper pie, a banana cream and a Boston cream pie. The flapper pie and banana cream pies start with a graham wafer crust. Add a cream filling to which bananas, chocolate, brown sugar or coconut is added to create a different flavour.
Usually the pies are topped with a meringue that is baked to a golden brown. Generally a Boston cream pie starts with a cake and then a cream filling is added between two layers of cake and then topped with whipped cream or powdered sugar.
Because these pies are made with milk and eggs, it is important that they be refrigerated as soon as they are cool and then used within a day or two.
They are not a good choice to take to a picnic or potluck because of the amount of time they would be left at room temperature or warmer.
When our children were younger and I made these cream pies two at a time, I would often allow them to have a piece for breakfast as a special treat because of the high milk and egg content. I felt the sugar content was no worse than a bowl full of
sugarcoated cereal, which they got less often.
Graham wafer crumb crust:
11/4 cups graham 310 mL
1/4 cup granulated sugar 60 mL
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 2 mL
1/4 cup melted butter 60 mL
Combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Blend in the butter. Set 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the mixture aside.
Press remainder onto the bottom and sides of a nine inch (22 cm) pie plate. Use an ovenproof glass or stoneware pie plate rather than
metal because the tin will discolour the crust after a day.
Bake in a 375 F (190 C) oven for eight minutes, then cool.
You can also buy a premade
graham wafer crust.
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch 60 mL
1/3 cup sugar 75 mL
1/8 teaspoon salt 0.5 mL
2 cups milk 500 mL
1 teaspoon vanilla 5 mL
1 tablespoon butter 15 mL
Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in one bowl and beat slightly. Put the egg whites in a second clean bowl to be used for the meringue.
Mix the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan or double boiler. Add the cold milk. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens and boils for two minutes. Remove from the heat.
Mix several spoonfuls of the hot mixture with the beaten egg yolks. Add the yolks to the rest of the hot mixture, stirring to blend.
Return to a low heat on the stove, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and butter. Mix and cool 10 minutes, then pour into the baked graham cracker crumb crust.
Note: some recipes use three tablespoons (45 mL) flour and two tablespoons (30 mL) cornstarch instead of all cornstarch to thicken the cream filling.
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream 1 mL
1/4 cup granulated 60 mL
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form.
Spoon the meringue onto the cooled pie filling, then swirl it to touch the crust all around. Sprinkle on the reserved crumbs.
Bake in a 350 F (180 C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
Butterscotch cream pie: Substitute brown sugar for white sugar and add caramel or maple flavouring for the vanilla.
Chocolate cream pie: Add 1/3 cup (75 mL) cocoa and increase the sugar to 1/2 cup (125 mL). Mix the cocoa and sugar together first, then add the other ingredients.
Coconut cream: To the warm cream filling add 1/2 -1 cup (125â€“250 mL) moist, shredded coconut. Reserve a little to sprinkle on the top of the meringue.
Banana cream: Slice two to three bananas into the pie shell and then top with the cream filling.
Coffee cream pie: Add 11/2 tablespoons (22 mL) of instant coffee granules to the milk mixture while it is being heated. If desired, sprinkle meringue with slivered blanched almonds before baking.
Fruit cream pie: Fold into the cooled filling 2/3 cup (150 mL) thoroughly drained, crushed pineapple or 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh, sliced strawberries or fresh raspberries. Or spread the berries on top of the filling and then top with the meringue.
Sources: www.recipesource.com/ethnic/americas/canadian and The Twenties chapter, A Century of
Canadian Home Cooking by Carol Ferguson and
Banana cream pie
In more recent years I have made more banana cream pies than flapper pies using the following filling recipe. The main reason is that I find they are quicker. Rather than a fresh egg cream filling, I use Bird’s custard powder and top it with banana slices and nutmeg.
1 graham wafer crumb crust,
prepared and cooled
5 tablespoons Bird’s 75 mL
3 tablespoons 45 mL
21/2 cups milk 625 mL
Measure the custard powder and sugar into a heavy saucepan and mix. Gradually add the milk, stirring to blend. Cook and continuously stir with a wire whisk over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
I have also made this in the microwave using a large microwave proof bowl. Cook on medium-high power six to nine minutes, stirring two to three times during the cooking. Watch carefully because this will boil over easily.
Slice two to three bananas and arrange in the bottom of a cooked and cooled graham wafer crumb pie shell. Pour the cooled filling over the bananas. Slice another banana and arrange on the top of the filling. Sprinkle with nutmeg and then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cool and then serve.
Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and one of four columnists comprising Team Resources. Send correspondence in care of this newspaper, Box 2500, Saskatoon, Sask., S7K 2C4 or contact them at email@example.com.