Birthday Pie

Jun 24, 2013 by

Birthday Pie

My son turned 11 last week, and informed me that he didn’t want a birthday cake this year, he wanted a birthday pie. And not just any old pie – the Tom Douglas coconut cream pie that he’d eaten once at Etta’s in Seattle.

Now, for those of you poor souls who’ve never gotten to taste this, Tom Douglas’ coconut cream pie is akin to what paradise must taste like. Rich coconut-ty custard resting in a crispy coconut pie shell, with LOT and LOTS of whipped cream on top, and gentle curls of white chocolate skimming the top.

Lucky for me, the recipe is contained in Douglas’ Dahlia Bakery cookbook, so I figured I could make a boy’s dream come true. (You can find a non-pirated version of the recipe here.) What follows is the story of my pie.

pie21. Make the dough. Normally, this is a cheat step for me, where I thaw and unroll a Pillsbury premade pie shell. But I figured I’d throw caution to the winds and actually make the pastry dough from the cookbook. It’s a fairly standard pie dough recipe, with 1/2 cup of coconut added. Once again, I must extol the virtues of my Cuisinart food processor, because it made creating the pie dough uber-easy. How did those pioneer women get by so many years ago? I shudder at what they went through to make a pie crust. It took most of the morning to make the crust, but only because you have to chill it twice. [Helpful Tom Douglas fact that I did not know prior to this: If you chill the rolled pie dough before baking, it will not shrink in the oven!] My variation on his process: he bakes the pie shell with parchment and dried beans resting in the shell to keep the pie bottom from puffing up. You can accomplish the same thing and reduce baking time by just poking the pie bottom with the tines of a fork.

coconut pastry cream2. Make the coconut pastry cream. This could not have been easier. Combine milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut in a medium saucepan. The most exotic step involved scraping vanilla bean seed from a pod into the mixture. Then warm the mix to almost a boil. In a second bowl, combine eggs, sugar and a little bit of flour, and temper the eggs so they don’t scramble by whisking a little of the warmed milk mix into the egg mix. Once that’s done, you add the egg mix to the milk mix and whisk it over med-high heat until the cream thickens and keep whisking for close to 5 minutes. Once it’s cooked, transfer the cream to a bowl that is resting over a second bowl of ice water, and stir occasionally until it’s all cool. Once the cream is cool, you can fill the pie shell.

mountain of whipped cream3. Whip the cream. I made a MAJOR variation here. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups (!!!!!!) of heavy cream, in addition to some sugar and vanilla. When I whipped that up, it literally took up almost an entire large mixing bowl, i.e. would have created about eight vertical inches of whipped cream on this pie. I can only assume that Tom Douglas is trying to kill us all. I put half that amount on the pie, and shoveled the rest into a Tupperware container for as yet undecided uses. I also don’t have a pastry bag to pipe it, so just lopped it on with a spoon. Hopefully it doesn’t look too much like a Pinterest Fail project…:)pie4

4. Garnish the pie. I’m too lazy to curl white chocolate shavings, so I just sprinkled a handful of white chocolate chips on top of the pie with some extra shredded coconut.

The result? Mmmmmmm.