Baby Boomers

Ruby’s Coconut Meringue Pie

Here’s a favorite like Grandma used to make, because she did. There was nothing as good as Ruby Floyd’s Coconut Meringue Pie. I can still taste it in my mind while writing this.

Ruby Alma Morgan was born in Brady, Texas in 1910 to our greatgrandparents Margaret Delitha Ralph Morgan (a Chickasaw-Choctaw, known for her healing in McCullough County) and James Allison Morgan (a real cowboy who herded cattle most of his life).

Although she was my maternal grandmother, I called her “Mother,” just as my Mom (Geraldine “Gerry” Arthur-Dennis, her daughter) did.

Our grandmother and mother. 1957

When I was a child, Mother made her own pie crusts (see recipe below), but for the sake of advancement we’ll provide the recipe the way my Mom, Gerry, did it by the time I was in my teens: with ready made pie crusts from H-E-B.

There are basically three side notes I remember Mother, who passed away in 1986, told me:

1. “Always cut meringue pies with a wet knife blade.”

2. “These pies tasted better if they are served cold.”

3. “Use your oldest eggs and set them out so they’ll warm up to room temperature. They will whip better.”

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups Pets Milk (or whole milk)

4 eggs, separated

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons butter

¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 baked, cooled 9-inch pie shell

¼ cup toasted coconut

1978

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For filling, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture boils and thickens, then cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks. Vigorously Whisk and slowly stir 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks. Stir the warmed yolks into the remainder of the milk mixture and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla, stirring until the butter has melted. Add the coconut, blending well.

Pour into cooled, baked 9-inch pie crust and top with meringue, sealing meringue to edge of pastry. Bake in a 350°F oven 12 to 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Cool completely before serving.

Meringue

4 egg whites, at room temperature

½ cup of sugar

1/2teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4teaspoon cream of tartar

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form and the sugar is dissolved, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat just to blend.

Pile atop pie, and bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Note: Be sure to seal the meringue to the pastry edge when spreading it on your pie. To minimize “weeping”, spread the meringue on the pie filling while the filling is hot.  

Pie Crust recipe ingredients:

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons ice water

1/2 cup Crisco or other good shortening

Preparation:

For a 9-inch double- or lattice-crust, just double this recipe.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Put the Crisco in a medium bowl. Pour the flour and salt over it. With a fork cut the flour and salt into the Crisco until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle the ice water over the mixture, and work it in with the pastry blender. You may not need all three tablespoons before the dough comes together and can be pressed into a ball. Remember, the less you work the dough, the lighter and flakier the pastry. Flatten the dough ball into a 6-inch circle, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the chilled dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll to a thickness of about 1/8 inch in a circle about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. Peel off the top piece of waxed paper, invert a 9-inch pie plate on dough surface, and turn the sheet of dough and the pie plate over. Center the dough on the pie place, if necessary, and peel off the second sheet of waxed paper (tear off in pieces if you like). Fit the dough into the pie plate without stretching it. If the dough tears a little, just pinch it back together.

Trim the dough to overhang the edge of the pie plate by about 1-1/4 inches, then turn under to make an edge. At this point Mother would put a fancy crimp in the edge.

An alternative method is to dust your work surface or pastry mat liberally with flour, and then roll out the dough to the proper size. The dough can then be rolled up (loosen an edge with a spatula or baker’s bench knife) on the rolling pin and transferred to the pie plate.

Now your unbaked pie shell is ready to be filled.

Note on pre-baked pie shells:

For a pre-baked pie shell, once your pastry is in the pan, trimmed and crimped, prick the bottom and sides of pastry with a fork to avoid air pockets developing, and bake in a 425°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

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