Here we go! For my first Culinary Bucket List recipe, I thought I’d tackle the Canadian prairie classic Flapper Pie.
Unless you’re from around these parts (i.e. Western Canada) you likely haven’t heard of this sweet dessert, or else it’s called something else where you’re from. Around here, Flapper Pie features a buttery graham cracker crust with a creamy vanilla custard filling, topped with a heavenly light meringue and a sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs. It’s definitely sweet, definitely indulgent, and absolutely delicious.
I first tasted Flapper Pie at the Blackfoot Truck Stop in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, which is one of my favourite breakfast dives in town. It’s a classic truck stop diner complete with random memorabilia, an antique train set that runs around the perimeter of the restaurant, and tables wiped so many times over the years that the tops are wearing off. It’s not fancy, but when I want two perfectly fried eggs served with crispy potatoes and a side of perogies, alongside bottomless fresh coffee (without waiting in line at some trendy spot downtown…), I head to Blackfoot.
Anyway, back to the pie. I did a bit of research and no one quite agrees where the name Flapper Pie came from, although one theory holds that it was first created/popularized in the 1920s, when “flapper girls” shocked the world by wearing short skirts and bobbing their hair. It seems to be something that everyone’s prairie grandmothers used to make, but has somewhat dropped off the radar in recent years for some unknown reason. Well, I’m here to say that it’s time for a Flapper Pie revival.
Unfortunately I’m not one of those lucky ones who have inherited a recipe from their grandmother – mine passed away in 2009, and I don’t recall her ever making this pie (Mom, please correct me if I’m wrong!). I scoured my cookbook collection and couldn’t find anything promising, so I turned to the internet. There are many, many recipes out there but the one that worked for me is from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen, and the original recipe can be found in its entirety here.
I love everything about this pie. The graham crust is crisp and crumbly and lightly sweetened, and the custard is perfectly smooth and creamy, holding its shape just enough so that the pie can be sliced and plated. The light-as-air meringue really completes the dish, and I promise it’s worth it waiting for those darn egg whites to reach firm peaks.
To save yourself some time, you could definitely use a store-bought graham pie crust. I suggest making the custard yourself, though, as it really is better than anything you’ll get from a box or a can. Indulge and enjoy!
- 1 and ⅓ cups graham wafer crumbs
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1½ tbsp flour
- Dash salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ cup sugar
- Dash salt
- 1 T graham crumbs, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, combine graham crumbs, cinnamon, and melted butter and mix to combine. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie pan. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before filling.
- Heat milk in a medium saucepan until small bubbles begin to form at the edges. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks. Gradually stir ½ cup of the hot milk into the beaten yolks (go slowly so you don't scramble your eggs!). Whisk yolk mixture back into saucepan.
- Combine sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt and whisk into milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5-6 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter. Cover and set aside while you make the meringue.
- In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar and salt and continue beating until firm peaks form.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pour custard mixture into cooled crust. Spoon meringue overtop, smoothing into an even layer. Sprinkle with 1 T graham crumbs. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Cool to room temperature before slicing.
- Pie may be stored in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Source: ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen