American Cream Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie, 6 to 8 servings
1 (9-inch) baked Basic Foolproof Lard Crust or Graham-Cracker Crust,
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups milk, warmed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Prepare and bake pie crust.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler. Blend in milk, vanilla and egg yolks. Add butter. Place over boiling water. Cook, stirring, about 7 minutes or until thickened and smooth.
Remove from heat. Scrape sides of pan with a rubber spatula. Cover and cool over ice water; do not stir. Turn filling into baked pie crust. Preheat oven to 400F (205C).
In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until mixture forms stiff peaks.
Spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of crust to prevent shrinking and weeping. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Cool away from drafts to prevent weeping.
Banana Cream Pie:
Slice 2 to 3 bananas into baked pie crust. Cover at once with hot vanilla filling, above. Top with meringue and bake as above.
Substitute 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar for 3/4 cup of sugar in basic recipe, above. Add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice along with butter. Continue and bake as above.
Chocolate Cream Pie:
Add 1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate to milk mixture after cooking. Let stand until chocolate melts and stir to blend. Turn into baked pie crust. Top with meringue and bake as above.
Coconut Cream Pie:
Fold 1 to 2 cups flaked coconut into vanilla filling, above. Turn into baked pie crust. Top with meringue and bake as above.
Lemon Meringue Pie:
Use 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 1-1/4 cups water in place of milk in basic recipe, above. Add grated peel of 1 lemon along with butter. Continue and bake as above.
Separate eggs when they are cold. Bring to room temperature before beating to gain the greatest volume. For an extra-high meringue, use 4 egg whites and increase sugar from 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup.