A few weeks ago, my family and I went for a walk down to nearby Red Hook, our grittier neighbour located on a peninsula between Buttermilk Channel and Gowanus Bay, at the southern edge of Downtwon Brooklyn. Red Hook is a rather strange place to visit – it has no subway stop, and many streets border on bleak, but cross onto Van Brunt Street, and you encounter an unpolished urban beauty and charm that really feels unique in this city. I saw lovely little bakeries, a bike shop hailing from my hometown of Sydney, some gorgeous nurseries and flower stores and some of the best street art around. Towards the water, Louis Valentino Junior Park and Pier offers Brooklyn’s only full frontal view of Lady Liberty and is a nice spot to throw a football or perhaps throw in a line. The other essential thing to do at this park is to gobble up one of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. They are damn delicious.
Over here, there is a lot of pride taken in the perfect key lime pie. It is actually a rather simple dessert of limes, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks set in a biscuit base of ground graham crackers and butter. Key limes are native to Florida Keys and are actually not easy to find so, more often that not, regular Persian limes are used to make key lime pies. This is where Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies make their mark. They claim to be one of only two commercial bakeries in the US to use fresh key lime juice. Their pie was indeed pretty special – sweetly tart with the perfect amount of wobble.
My key lime pie odyssey came to fruition last week when I spotted a bag of key limes at a local grocer in Cobble Hill. Needless to say, I took them home with me to make my very own Authentic Key Lime Pie.
Hetty’s Authentic Key Lime Pie
For cooks in Australia, substitute graham crackers with arrowroot biscuits. In the UK, use Digestives. You can vary the number of egg yolks, depending on how rich you want the filling. Three egg yolks is respectable, but I upped the ante to four yolks for extra creaminess. You could push the issue further with five yolks!
- 150g graham crackers, finely ground into crumbs
- 40g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
Key Lime Filling
- 1 tbsp grated lime zest
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 12-15 key limes or 4-5 Persian limes)
Preheat the oven to 180˚C (356˚F).
Begin by making the crust. Using a food processor or blender, process the graham crackers or biscuits into a fine crumb. Pour into a bowl and combine with the sugar, salt and the melted butter. Mix well and then press into the base and sides of a 22cm or 9inch pie dish. Use your fingertips or the base of a small cup to flatten out the base and press in neat, firm sides. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until browned. Leave to cool.
To make the lime filling, zest the limes, preferably using a microplane. Place in a bowl, add the egg yolks and beat with a whisk or electric mixer until the mixture is pale, thick and ribbony. Don’t skimp on this step – achieving a smooth, thick mixture here will improve the overall texture of the pie. Add the condensed milk and beat again until well combined and thickened. Add the lime juice and whisk again until combined. Pour into the cooled graham cracker/biscuit base and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, until set but not browned on top. Let the pie cool completely before eating. I prefer to eat the pie chilled so let it cool off in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before scoffing.
This pie will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days, if you can resist for that long!