Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mamaw Georgie's Vanillla Cream Pie

We moved a lot when I was a kid.  As in, more than most military families.  I'm sure that those experiences are much of what made me who I am.  One of the big constants in my life though, was my Mamaw Georgie's vanilla cream pie.

Every time that we went to her house, there was a beautiful, meringue topped pie waiting the moment we walked in the door.  Even with all the memories of my Mamaw and the things she gave to me before she died, vanilla cream pie is what really takes me back.

When I was in high school, I got the recipe from my Aunt Mavis.  I wrote the recipe down, and I never really thought much about it until after I got married and Mavis was ill.  I wanted that comfort food.  The part of food that makes your heart say "I am loved".

Even the smell of the custard cooking takes me  back to my last Christmas with Mamaw when when I was about 11 years old.  Throw some coffee smells in, and it's like a time machine.

After I was married and we bought our first house, I made quite a few pies.  Some better than others.  I started with Mavis' base recipe, haphazardly scribbled on a sheet of paper (along with recipes for cinnamon candy, M&M cookies, and cole slaw).

Mamaw Georgie's Vanilla Cream Pie:

9" pie crust
1 small can cream (this means a can of evaporated milk)
1 can full of water
3/4 c Sugar
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla
(For chocolate add 1/3 c cocoa)
Cook until thick
2 or 3 egg whites
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Beat whites until stiff peaks
Broil until browned

That recipe is pretty close to what Mamaw Georgie made.  It's a little taste of love to my belly.

But, the first time I made it, I used sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk (because, really, this city girl didn't know that a can of cream was really evaporated milk).

The funny thing is, accidents can be happy accidents.  It turns out that using sweetened condensed milk makes for a really rich, intense flavor.

My dad prefers the original, but my husband like Mamaw's pie made with sweetened condensed milk (and home made vanilla extract, none of that store bought or imitation stufff).

A few things that I've discovered along the way make the recipe a little less obtuse.

1.  Mix the can of water (make it cold water) with the corn starch before adding it to the combination
2.  Beat the egg yolks before putting them in the mix
3.  Cook the filling over medium heat in a saucepan or large deep skillet, stirring constantly
4.  Put the meringue on the filling while it's still hot (otherwise, it likes to weep and separate, a  lot).
5.  The meringue recipe here is pretty weak.  I use 3 egg whites, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 c sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla now.   Any meringue recipe you like will do though.  Some hold up better than others.
6.  When making meringue, make sure that you let the egg whites come to room temp before beating

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gluten Free Maple Bacon Cupcakes

In celebration of the end of the BamaCross season, I decided to make some sort of bacon cupcake because... well, BamaCross and bacon go together, ask anyone.

I threw in the Gluten Free part because several racers and one of the photographers are gluten intolerant or have Celiac. I had been planning to start playing with gluten free baking anyway (and maybe go GF myself), and this was the motivation I needed to get started!

I perused the interwebs a bit to see what recipes were out there, but nothing really spoke to me (and none were for big batches like I need. I decided to do something totally out of character for the OCD Baker: improvise.. Well, kinda.

I went through my cookbooks and found a basic yellow cake recipe in my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook and went from there. But trust me, it took me at least half an hour to determine all the substitutions and changes I would make. And then I wrote it down because, if I didn't, I wouldn't be OCD.

In the end, this is what I came up with.

Gluten Free Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Cupcake - makes about 24 cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped up cooked bacon
  • 2-1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose mix because it was all that was available at the local grocery store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (rounded) Xanthan gum
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of water (or milk--I didn't have any, so I used water)
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
If not already done, cook some bacon, preferably in an iron skillet. I roll old school. I'd suggest a pound of thick cut bacon because there is no such thing as too much bacon. Reserve the fat and put it in the fridge or freezer to solidify. Cut enough cooked bacon to make 1/2 cup and put it and any leftover bacon aside for later. But don't eat it all because we'll use at least part of what's left for garnishing those cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake tin with cupcake papers and set aside.

Combine softened butter and bacon fat until well blended. It's going to look pretty icky, but trust me, this works.

Add the sugar to the fats and mix for two minutes.

Add in the eggs, water, maple syrup, and vanilla and mix until well blended.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together then add gradually to the wet mix until incorporated.

Add the chopped up bacon and mix until just combined.

Fill each cupcake tin about halfway and bake at 350 for 15 minutes (for regular sized cupcakes--13 for mini cupcakes). Remove from oven and cool.

Frosting- makes enough to frost about 24 cupcakes
  • 2 pounds of gluten free confectioners' sugar
  • 2 cups of gluten free shortening
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 16 teaspoons of water

I recommend using a stand mixer for this one. It's pretty stiff and can be hard to do with a hand mixer.

Combine shortening and 1/4 cup maple syrup.

Add in all the sugar and continue mixing, adding water to get the desired consistency.

Now it's time for Assembly!

Make sure all of your cupcakes are cool--otherwise your frosting is just going to get nasty.

Pipe or spread frosting onto each cupcake. I used a decorator bag with a large star tip to create the look in the picture above.

Cut a piece of the cooked bacon and place on the cupcake.

Repeat until all of your cupcakes are done.

On Gluten Free Baking/Cooking

For the BamaCross gluten free folks, I researched and read labels for everything that I used.

For anyone who sees gluten free recipe and says, "I can make something gluten free for my friend!". Please remember that just about everything that is mass produced has gluten in it or has been exposed to it (cross contamination). So don't be offended if they ask lots of questions or still opt not to eat your goodies. It's their health.

Some common baking items that could have gluten in them:
  • flour
  • baking powder
  • extracts (like vanilla)
  • yeast
  • chocolate chips