Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Key Lime Pie with Graham Pastry Crust

I bought 100 key limes for our cinco de Mayo party we had a couple of weekends ago. Margaritas taste best when using key limes. Unfortunately, due to their miniature size, you need about 2 1/2 limes for each margarita, which can really give your wrists a work out, so wouldn't you know, the regular sized limes were used leaving me with a few dozen key limes. What does one do with key limes? Make key lime pie of course. And so I researched a few recipes for this classic southern dessert. I found little variance on the ingredients in the custard. Some recipes called for baking the pie, some relied purely on the reaction between the eggs and the lime juice to create a custard-like filling. I had no problem deciding to use the baked variation, as it claimed to result in a creamier consistency. The piece of this pie that kept me searching for a better solution was the crust. All the recipes I found called for a graham cracker crust, made by crushing either purchased or home made graham crackers. Of course, I didn't want to buy graham crackers that would contain hydrogenated oils and I didn't like the idea of having to make the crackers to ultimately crush them for a crust making a simple key lime pie an all-day ordeal. I thought why not make a home made graham cracker crust in one step? I looked back at my own graham cracker recipe and using the ratios from my favorite pastry crust, created a graham pastry crust. It turned out to be a simple and tasty alternative that contains no hydrogenated oils.
The following recipe can be made in a 9 inch pie plate, but the pastry crust works well in a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, plus it looks more elegant.

Key Lime Pie with Graham Pastry Crust

1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (Bob's Red Mill) or white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 1/2 Tablespoons cold water
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Blend in the cold butter with a pastry blender or your findertips until you have pea sized chunks. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cold water with the honey, molasses and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the butter and flour mixture, stirring with a fork to bring the dough together into a ball. When just starting to come together, turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and gather into three or four separate pieces. Them "shmear" each piece against the countertop once with the palm of your hand to distribute the fat. Gather the dough together forming a disc, wrap in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4 Large Egg Yolks
4 teaspoons grated lime zest (from about 12 key limes)
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 14 key limes)

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and zest until thick and creamy with a light green tint. Whisk in the milk, then the lime juice. Cover and set aside allowing to thicken while baking the crust.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the cooled pastry dough from the refrigerator, unwrapping the dough, but leaving it on top of the plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on top of the plastic wrap until it is about 12 inches in diameter or is large enough to fit into your pie or tart pan. Using the plastic wrap to transport the dough, place the dough over the pan, plastic side up. Remove the plastic wrap and fit the dough into the pie or tart pan, trimming the excess from the sides. Cover the dough with tin foil and weight with pie weights or rice. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

When the pastry crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove from oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Pour the set custard filling into the baked crust and return the pie to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the center is firm. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. Serve chilled with sweetened whipped cream.