What do you give to an 87-year-old man who has everything? While planning a trip to visit CK’s grandparents in State College, I cooked up the idea (ha ha) of baking them a pie. CK’s father reminded me that Grampy likes, nay, loves, nay, ADORES pineapple pie… and thus another culinary investigation was launched.
What is pineapple pie? I couldn’t imagine. A search on epicurious turned up recipes with creamy custard and sprinkled with macadamia nuts–sounded delicious, but seemed a bit too avant garde for someone who came of age in the 1940s (side note: did they even have macadamia nuts back then?). Thank goodness for my friends at chowhound.com, who pointed me in the direction of the delightful website, Nostalgic Recipes from Nice, a charming collection of one woman’s recipes from the 1950s.
Nice (pronounced like the adjective) was born in Singapore in 1915, and, according to her granddaughter who runs the website, was a dedicated cook and baker. The recipes, hand-written and lovely, focus largely on Nonya (Malaysian) cuisine, though there are a few American treats, like pineapple pie. The website offers amazing detail and insight into cooking in Southeast Asia in the 1950s. It’s a must visit for any food lover!
As the website says, Nice’s pineapple pie probably orginated from McCall’s or another American women’s magazine. She only provides instructions for the filling, so I used the amazing all-butter pie crust recipe from the New York Times, incorporating that high-fat European butter (Mom — if you’re reading this, avert your eyes). I used three small cans of pineapple chunks for the filling, saving the juice as instructed. The filling tasted great — not too sweet, thanks to the lemon — but seemed too liquid. I added 1 tblsp of flour and drained most of the filling before adding it to the pie shell.* As it turns out, this was an error.
The pie baked up beautifully, flaky and golden brown. That high-fat butter really makes for an astonishingly gorgeous, flaky crust. Alas, the filling was too solid and not liquid enough. It tasted delicious, however; pineapple-y, lemony, and not too sweet. Grampy ate two enormous slices and proclaimed it one of the best pineapple pies he’s ever eaten. He especially liked the use of pineapple chunks, instead of crushed fruit (is crushed more authentic?). I saw him eyeing the rest of the pie as we left the next morning. Pineapple pie for breakfast? Why not?
*The Outlaw Chef strikes!
P.S. Sorry, no photos again. I will get better at this, I promise.