Cream pies were once standard fare in the American kitchen. The varieties of cream pies were endless. The popular banana cream and coconut cream pies are still commonly found wherever you can find a cafe or diner with a pie case. Count me a fan. I like the plain vanilla cream with its variations, and the chocolate cream with a bit of whipped cream on top. Chocolate silk pie has probably by-passed the once more common chocolate cream, but I prefer the latter. It’s not as rich, and the texture brings me back to that childhood favorite chocolate pudding.
I thought the Strawberry Cream variation found in the Better Homes and Gardens’ cookbook from the 1940s sounded especially delicious. Honestly, it was delicious, but I can see why it didn’t really catch on. It’s pretty heavy and hot to make during the summer when strawberries are ripe. You are literally standing over a hot stove.
I know the recipe could be simplified by purchasing a ready-made pie crust and using instant pudding rather than the homemade corn-starchy cream called for in the recipe. Personally, I find those short cuts rather unsatisfying. I know store-bought pudding is really similar to this creamy concoction, but it’s not quite similar enough. I love cornstarch pudding from scratch, but I wouldn’t walk across the kitchen for a spoonful of instant pudding.
History: Meat and vegetable pies are the oldest varieties followed by fruit pies. I am not sure when cream style pies came to be, but I am sure they were popular on American farmsteads where there was an abundance of milk, eggs and cream to be used.
Time and Effort: This pie is rather time-consuming. It takes about an hour to assemble and needs several hours to chill. Effort is fairly difficult as it requires creating a pie crust, and cooking the filling in a double-boiler while stirring constantly.
Worth adding to your Repertoire: Probably not. While delicious, it’s not as good as old-fashioned strawberry shortcake, which is also easier.
Recipe: Strawberry Cream Pie
1 Baked 9 inch pie shell
1 C sugar
6 Tbls cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2.5 Cups scalded milk
2 slightly beaten eggs
3 Tbls butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt; gradually add milk and cook in double boiler until thick. Add small amount of hot mixture to eggs; stir into remaining hot mixture. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla. Chill. Pour into cooled baked shell. Cover with strawberries. Chill. Spread with sweeted whipped cream just before serving. Garnish with more berries.