(Full recipe at bottom of post.)
Sometimes, you wanna go a little old-school with your pies. And there aren’t many more retro pie-styles than a good “chiffon.”
The chiffon pie was named, of course, after the light and airy fabric. Actually, it was re-named after the light and airy fabric. The earliest chiffon style pies can be traced to around the early 1900’s when their signature ingredient, Jell-o, became widely available to the public. Back then, they were known as “Sissy Pies.” Or “Fairy Tarts.”
The renamed “Chiffon Pie” recipes begin showing up in the mid 20th century…about the same time the words “sissy” and “fairy” began taking on….umm…more specific connotations. We can only imagine the horror a 1950’s husband would feel when he brought his boss home for dinner and his wife had prepared a “Sissy Pie.”
So, someone instituted the name change, which, we have to admit, doesn’t butch up the dessert all that much. Certainly not to the extent claimed by our 1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook, which introduces its chiffon pie recipe section thusly:
“When a man eats in a restaurant he’s very apt to order the chiffon pie on the menu. And so, come to think of it, are you! So why don’t you be original tonight. Bake one of the family’s away-from-home desserts at home.”
We’re gonna go out on a limb and predict that if your 1969 husband insisted on ordering the chiffon pie every time you both went out to dinner, by 1974 he had probably moved to San Francisco with his best friend…the one he was always out late with, enjoying “away-from-home” treats. His abandonment of you had nothing to do with whether or not you baked “original” desserts. He simply wasn’t that into your pie, no matter how you presented it.
Yes, we went there.
Here are our step-by-step instructions for making the perfect fresh Strawberry Chiffon Pie. We love them on a hot summer day.
Of course, we were born that way.
First, let’s make the crust:
Yes, that’s vodka in there. We often use vodka straight from the freezer as our liquid. It’s tasteless, and the alcohol burns off. But it’s colder than ice water or milk, which helps keep the crust flakier. Plus, if your husband loves chiffon pies, you might want to start drinking during the daytime to complete the 1950’s tableau.
Cut up your cold butter and add it to the flour, salt and sugar.
Beat on medium until the largest pieces of butter are the size of large peas.
Add your vodka slowly, beating for at least 20 seconds between additions.
It’s tempting to add it all at once, but do it slowly and intermittently. You want the dough to barely start to hold together in a ball. That’s what makes it flaky.
Not ready yet…
Ok, now it’s ready:
We’ve made enough for two pies here (because we have a lot of “friends of chiffon pies.”) So we divided the dough into halves. Flatten them into disks, wrap in plastic, and put into refrigerator to cool.
Once completely chilled, sprinkle a little flour on your work surface. Not too much…it will absorb into the dough and make it tough.
Also sprinkle a little on top of the dough to keep your rolling pin from sticking.
Always roll from the center out. Turn the dough in quarter-turns occasionally to help keep the crust round.
Roll it gently, but firmly. Don’t squish it.
For a 9 inch pie, you should probably make it about 11 inches in diameter.
To safely transfer it to your pie dish, fold it in quarters.
That helps keep it from tearing. (Sometimes we also wrap it around the rolling pin to transfer.)
OMG. Isn’t that the greatest ceramic pie pan?! With the cute goat stamped into the bottom?!? (psst…you can get it here.)
Cut off any excess crust. (We bake that on a cookie sheet for snacking, later. When our husband is out late with his best friend.)
A few pricks will keep your husband happy (…because that way the crust won’t slip while pre-baking):
After the crust has prebaked, we’ll make the filling while it’s cooling.
Here’s our yolks, sugar, zest, gelatin & lemon juice mixture. Slowly heating up. You don’t want it to boil, or you’ll have scrambled egg pie. Which will not make your husband happy…no matter his pie-style preferences.
We didn’t get a great shot of adding the strawberries to this mixture and then blending them with immersion blender. Sorry. You’ll just have to follow that portion of the recipe instructions without a picture.
Nor did we get a great egg white-whipping or ingredient-folding shot. Just take a deep breath, and follow the recipe. Be a man about it. Don’t let this Sissy Pie get the better of you.
When you’re done, it’ll look like this:
Nice and fluffy:
Like we said, we sometimes freeze what we don’t eat right away. That way the whipped filling won’t collapse. And it’s just as refreshing.
Serve with a bright pink napkin, of course…
…because we’re past all that pie stereotyping, aren’t we?
Prep time: 2 Hours
Cook time: 10 Min
Total time: 4 Hours
One 9 inch pie
For 9-inch crust:
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon butter, cut into pats and very very cold.
2-4 Tablespoons vodka straight from the freezer.
3 tablespoons sugar
For chiffon filling:
¾ cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 ½ cups fresh strawberries (washed, drained, hulled)
3 eggs whites at room temperature
3 egg yolks at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
zest from one lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450F for pie shell
Prepare and pre-bake shell. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together flour, salt, sugar and butter on medium speed until only remaining butter pieces are the size of large peas. Add 2 tablespoons vodka, beat for 30 seconds. If dough is not forming loose ball, add another tablespoon. Beat for another full 30 seconds. If not forming loose ball yet, add remaining tablespoon. Do not add more than 4 tablespoons. Too much liquid causes pie doughs to be stiff and tough.
Once dough forms loose ball, remove from mixing bowl, and quickly pat it into a semi-flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Once completely chilled, roll out into a rough 11 circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer dough to 9 inch pie dish. Trim any excess dough that hangs more than 1 inch over side. Fold over dough edges and flute with fingers or press down with fork tines. Prick bottom and sides of dough thoroughly. Add parchment paper to cover dough, and use dried beans or pie weights on top of parchment to keep dough from slipping. Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking every few minutes towards end of cooking time to keep from burning. Rotate pan if necessary to evenly brown. Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Slice 2 cups of the strawberries into rough chunks. If very juicy, allow to drain a bit.
Put lemon juice into a small bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin and let rest for 10 minutes.
In medium saucepan, whisk together yolks, ½ cup of the sugar, zest, and gelatin/lemon juice mixture. Place saucepan over medium-low heat, and heat slowly, whisking often, until mixture thickens.(Approximately 10 minutes) Do not allow to boil or egg yolks will curdle. Once thickened, add 2 cups of sliced strawberries. Using immersion blender, quickly pulse strawberries until incorporated, but not completely pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, and electric hand blender can be used.) Allow mixture to chill completely – approximately 30 minutes in refrigerator.
In bowl of stand mixture with whisk attachment, beat together egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until peaks are stiff and glossy. Do not under-beat, or pie will be runny.
Fold together egg white meringue mixture with strawberry/egg yolk/gelatin mixture in sequential batches. Do not over mix, or add too much mixture to the other at one time. This will reduce air bubbles and overall pie volume. Once combined, allow to chill for another 30 minutes. Spoon into cooled crust, and chill another 5 hours or overnight.
Slice remaining ½ cup strawberries to use as garnish on top of pie.