In 1947, a 64-year-old California man named Harry Baker approached General Mills with a secret recipe. The secret ingredient was - salad oil. The discovery - "the first new cake in 100 years," Chiffon Cake.
While I was gathering up tidbits to share about Chiffon Cake in a previous post, I happened upon many delectable recipes for Chiffon Pie. What? I thought. They aren't one in the same? Hey, what do I know, I'm not much of a baker, as we are all quite aware of by now. So, who gets the credit for "inventing" the chiffon pie? Well, according to the resources I found at the foodtimeline, it was self proclaimed "pie engineer," Monroe Boston Strause who invented chiffon pie. As a matter of fact, the California "Pie King" wrote a recipe book in 1939 titled Pie Marches On where he also lays claims to the invention of black-bottom pie!
|"This is without doubt the most sensational pie that has ever been introduced and is one of the outstanding originals of the writer. Aside from being a sensation, I believe it brought the highest price that any pie ever sold at commercially; $1.90 for a nine-inch pie, retail." (source)|
In all fairness, we mustn't skim off the cream without digging in just a bit deeper. In her book, The American Century Cookbook, Jean Anderson devotes an entire page to the history of these billowing gems.
Chiffon pie is a very light, airy pie made with gelatin and beaten egg whites. It usually has a ginger-based crust and is sometimes covered in a layer of whipped cream, to add to its light-as-chiffon reputation. Lemon chiffon pie is a famous example, but you can make a chiffon pie with strawberries, coffee, pumpkin, mango or other flavors.I know I should be focusing on Lemon Chiffon Pie. After all, it is Lemon Chiffon Pie Day. I just need a few minutes to shout about how much I absolutely adore Chiffon Pies, even more so then Chiffon Cakes! The reason is simple. I don't do pastry crust. Pie crust and I (and yeast when it comes to bread baking) just don't jive. I've accepted it for the time being. However, crumb crusts I can do. As a matter of fact, to me, crumbling up a bunch of cookies and turning them into a tasty "plate" for a light and airy chiffon filling captivates my imagination. The heck with those pre-made crumb crusts they sell at the supermarket. You know the ones. I'd be happier pulverizing a bunch of graham crackers with melted butter for my chiffon pie than use one of those. Just think of the "chiffonade" of possibilities! (I couldn't resist:)
The word "chiffon" is from the French meaning "rag". Chiffon pie is first mentioned in American print in 1929. Early chiffon pies were apparently called Sissy Pies (as well as Fairy Tarts, Fluff, Sponge and Souffle pies) in the early 20th century, when they were made by mixing pudding with egg whites and baking in the oven. Now, 21st century chiffon pies use gelatin to set the filling... (source)
Off the top of my head, I can think of just a few of the "crumbs" I've used as a crust for chiffon pie. I know I've used all sorts of cookies crumbs, granola, macaroons, brownies, oatmeal, gingersnaps, and even corn flakes. I get a thrill flavoring the melted butter with assorted spices that blend well with the kind of crumbs I'm using. Liqueur is a lively flavoring in place of vanilla or almond extract. Oh, I forgot to tell you the best part about using crumb crusts vs dough crusts. Dough crusts don't hold the moisture as well and it tends to get a bit soggy, where crumb crust holds up better. Hmmm...it seems Pieman Strause did know a little something about chiffon pies:) Just take a peek at Anna's recipe for Brownie-Bottom White Chocolate Raspberry Chiffon Pie. Seriously, how cool is that? Did you read her recipe made the Honor Roll at the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchens? The possibilities are endless, I tell ya? Or, did I say that already
Foodsayers chant "the pie is the next cupcake." If that's the case, I can't think of a better time to revive the Chiffon Pie. It's quick, it's versatile, and you probably have any number of intriguing ingredients hanging around the pantry. In Fannie Merritt Farmer's The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, (1943) there are recipes for Lemon Chiffon Pie, Coffee Chiffon Pie, Eggnog Chiffon Pie, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, and Strawberry Chiffon Pie. Gelatin was used in all her pie recipes. If you don't have any unflavored gelatin hanging around, and you're squeamish about beating uncooked egg whites, try use flavored Jell-O granules. As a matter of fact, did you know, at one time the folks at Jell-O sold a Jell-O Chiffon Pie Filling? Look at this ad.
rather like elegant Victorian ladies, quivery or trembly, always delicate, but with a sound, well-bread constitution."
Marion Cunningham, The Fannie Farmer Baking Book 1984.
I can't think of a better time of the year to re-introduce Chiffon Pies in all their refreshing elegance. Why not try a No-Bake Chiffon Pie for a light and airy Springtime dessert? They're so easy to make. How cool would it be to "bake" each guest their very own mini chiffon pie? You could make the crumb crust the night before, fill it early in the morning and just let it chill!
If you would prefer not to risk any possible of contamination from Salmonella, you could use a Bavarian Cream filling. Technically, it won't whip up a "true" Chiffon Pie because it doesn't contain beaten egg whites but the texture is quite similar. I read that you can prepare a "Swiss Meringue" over simmering water until the whites hit 140 degrees. You need to increase the sugar to 3 tablespoons to stabilize the whites. It seems to have worked out beautifully for this Butternut Squash Chiffon Pie. Here's a recipe from Martha Stewart for "Swiss Meringue." Of course, you can use powdered egg whites with true success. (I use both powdered and organic eggs depending on the whether I'm serving for company or for just Marion and myself)
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer.
2. Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Test by rubbing between your fingers.
3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use meringue immediately.
|4 cups corn flakes cereal|
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
Roll the corn flakes to make 1 cup of fine crumbs. (if you have a food processor use it!) Add sugar, cinnamon and melted butter to crumbs; stir well. Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch pie plate. Fill with your favorite chiffon filling and chill.
|Mix together in the top of a double boiler, 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin and 3 tablespoons of good rum. Let stand 5 mintues, then stir in 1/3 cup of fine granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 3 well-beaten egg yolks. Gradually, and a little at a time, add 1 cup of very strong coffee, beating briskly after each addition. When thoroughly blended, place over hot water and cook, stirring constantly until mixture coats the spoon heavily. Remove from hot water and cool. When thoroughly cold, fold in 3 stiffly beaten egg whites, seasoned with a few grains of salt and flavored with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Sweeten with 1/3 cup of sugar. Beat until foamy. Pour as evenly as possible into a 9-inch pre-baked shell (or make my favorite crumb crust for this pie below) and chill until firm. Serve cold topped with unflavored and unsweetened whipped cream forced through a pastry bag, using a fancy tube.|
1. In a mixing bowl combine 2 cups flaked coconut and 3 tablespoons butter melted.
2. Turn coconut mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.
3. Press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides to form a firm even crust.
4. Bake in 325° oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
5. Cool thoroughly.
1. BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking... (preview available @ google books)
1.. Tangerine Chiffon Pie
2. Watermelon Chiffon Pie
3. "Mile High" Lemon Chiffon Pie
4. Butterscotch Chiffon Pie with Pecan Topping
5. Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
6. Eggnog Chiffon Pie (Dave Lieberman)