I have something of extreme life or death importance to ask of you. It’s about pies. We all need to band together and make Pies the new Macarons which were the new Cupcakes which were the new Donuts which were the new Brownies. Apparently the prediction is that Marshmallows are going to be the next big thing but I’m not down with that shit. Marshmallows belong in rocky road or toasted on the end of dirty sticks in a campfire, not as an actual dessert for God’s sake. I mean really, what kind of cruel joke is this? We need to nip this in the bud before some poor hapless moron opens a marshmallow shop thinking that he’ll soon retire in the Bahamas with the imaginary wealth made from his stupid marshmallows.
Or maybe that moron will get marshmallows onto a tv show, propelling them to fame, à la Magnolia Cupcakes. Could they work marshmallows into Game of Thrones? And while we’re on the topic, don’t you think that out of all the characters, Jaime and his sister Cersei have such a pure love for each other, despite their relationship being completely inappropriate? No? Ok then. Let us never speak of this again.
I recently had dinner with my favourite foodie friend at an Italian restaurant where the waitress coerced us into ordering the apple torta because it was Nonna’s special recipe, implying that this was going to be the most delicious cake ever. It was rather disappointing given the hype, which prompted a conversation about so-called amazing recipes handed down from Nanna or Grammy or Ni Ni or whatever the hell cutesy name you’ve given your grandmother. Obviously personal taste is all very biased and subjective, but what if she’s a seriously appalling cook? Are you obliged to rave about her cooking and pass down her recipes just because she was around before electricity or the internet was invented?
Anyway, back to pies. This is Crack Pie. It’s called Crack Pie because it’s extremely addictive and will increase your heart rate, dilate your pupils and induce feelings of paranoia that someone else is going to steal and eat all your Crack Pie. Clearly it is not one of your grandma’s recipes, because Crack Pie would have been called Margaret’s Buttery Goodness Jesus Loves You Pie which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
It’s made almost exclusively with butter, sugar, cream and egg yolks which is disturbing yet strangely compelling at the same time, like any show that appears on the E! channel. You’ll need to gather whatever patience you have for this pie because it will take about 24 hours to complete so it’s not exactly a quick fix, but guess what? This recipe will yield 2 pies and you can freeze one or it’s likely that you will eat both and fall into a diabetic coma but at least you’ll be happy. It may not be all that pretty, but you won’t care because it’s salty, sweet, buttery, caramel-ly, crunchy and fudgy all at once. Don’t do drugs, kids. Do pie instead. And I don’t mean “doing” pie in that American Pie movie kind of way or you’ll make baby Jesus cry.
1 tbsp (firmly packed) light brown sugar
55 gm butter, melted
115 gm butter, at room temperature
75 gm light brown sugar
40 gm white sugar
1 egg yolk
80 gm bread flour
120 gm rolled oats
1/8 tsp baking powder
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Crack Pie filling
300 gm white sugar
180 gm light brown sugar
20 gm milk powder
24 gm freeze-dried sweetcorn powder (see note)
225 gm butter, melted
180 ml pouring cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
1. For oat cookie, preheat oven to 180C. Beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed in an electric mixer until fluffy and pale yellow (2-3 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl. On low speed, add yolk. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until sugar dissolves and mixture is pale (1-2 minutes). On low speed, add flour, oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp sea salt. Mix until dough comes together – the dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl. Spread to 5mm thick on a 25cm x 31cm oven tray buttered and lined with baking paper. The dough won’t cover the tray; this is okay. Bake until caramelised on top, puffed slightly but set firmly (15 minutes), cool completely and break into pieces.
2. Pulse oat cookie, brown sugar and ¼ tsp sea salt in a food processor until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to a bowl, add melted butter and knead until moist enough to form a ball. If it is not moist enough, melt an additional 14gm-25gm butter and knead it in. Divide evenly among two 25cm-diameter pie tins and press firmly into base and up sides. Pie crust will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.
3. For Crack Pie filling, preheat oven to 180C. Beat sugars, milk powder, sweetcorn powder and 1½ tsp sea salt on low speed in an electric mixer until blended. Add butter, beat until dry ingredients are moist (2-3 minutes), add cream and vanilla and beat until streaks from cream disappear (2-3 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl, add yolks and beat to just combine, being careful not to aerate the mixture, but being certain mixture is glossy and homogenous. Divide among pie crusts, filling three-quarters full, and bake until golden brown and very jiggly (15 minutes), then open oven door and reduce oven temperature to 170C (depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature; keep pies in oven during this process). When the oven reaches 170C, close door and bake for 5 minutes longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the centre but not around the edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so. Gently remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. (You can speed up the cooling by transferring the pies to the refrigerator or freezer if you’re in a hurry.) Then freeze your pies to condense the filling for a dense final product (3 hours-overnight). Freezing is the signature technique of a perfectly executed Crack Pie. If you’re not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. They’ll keep refrigerated for 5 days or in the freezer for a month. Transfer the pies from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw for a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to get in there. Serve your Crack Pies cold. Decorate with icing sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.
Note Freeze-dried sweetcorn is available online from fresh-as.com. Grind the sweetcorn to a powder in a food processor before using.