Flapper pie! As always, I’m late to the party – I’ve made two of these in two days, and only managed to eat a slice this afternoon. I’m a sucker for recipes with unusual names, particularly Canadian ones and anything that has to do with pie – if you haven’t heard of it, flapper pie is a prairie thing, although no one can say whether or not it was invented here. It’s a graham crust filled with vanilla custard and topped with meringue, and was popular in the prairies because its ingredients are easy to find on farms and don’t depend on seasons – there is nothing more exotic than sugar, milk, eggs, cornstarch and a box of graham crackers that were easily obtained at the corner store. (In fact, some say this recipe was originally printed on the box.)
There are plenty of flapper pie recipes out there, and most of them are very similar, with small tweaks to the quantity of each ingredient, and often a pinch of cinnamon added to the crumbs sprinkled overtop. I couldn’t resist going with a recipe shared by Amy Jo Ehman, whose grandmother won first prize for her flapper pie (among others) at the Saskatoon fair in 1957. I consider any Saskatchewan grandma to be the preeminent expert on flapper pie – or all pie, really. I made a few tweaks – reducing the crumbs slightly to allow the crust to hold together a bit better, and upped the sugar from 2 Tbsp to 4 in the meringue, making it closer to the ratio I usually use to top a pie. Other than that, it stayed true to the 1957 version.
It’s simple, truly – a press-in graham crust (I like bashing Digestive cookies into crumbs, too) quickly baked while you stir sugar, cornstarch, milk and three egg yolks into pudding on the stovetop. This reminded me of how delicious plain vanilla pudding is, and made me wonder why I never make it. You pour the custard into the shell – this part can be done a day ahead of time if you like – then top with meringue and pop it back in a hot oven for a few minutes to brown. You don’t have to worry about your pie being too juicy or runny or stodgy – there’s a reason everyone on the prairies relied on flapper pie.
If the idea of meringue makes you nervous, you can always keep the egg whites for pancakes and top the custard pie with fresh or stewed fruit – rhubarb comes to mind – but don’t try to pass it off as flapper pie. Great, now I want to serve my flapper pie with a pitcher of cold stewed rhubarb, just to double down on the prairieness of it.
I need to stop writing about pie immediately before bed. I sent some of this home with a friend, but the rest is calling to me from the fridge…