Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Old Fashioned Milk Pie. Yes, Milk Pie

As promised much too long ago, here is another of Gramma Walker’s recipes. I’m putting the recipe right at the top of this blog because when I’m looking for a recipe I generally don’t feel like reading 1500 words about how busy Marsha’s Monday was or all the steps Joe Bob takes to set up his outdoor oven. I want the recipe straightforward and upfront, so here it is. 

Granny Runt’s Old Fashioned Milk Pie

  • 1  Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 Cup flour
  • 2  Cups homogenized milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Put sugar and flour in 8" unbaked pie crust.   Stir with your fingers until well mixed.  Add milk (and vanilla) and stir. Sprinkle nutmeg over top. Bake at 375 for about 45  minutes. This may not be real thick. Skip to the bottom for my revised recipe.

My gramma’s recipe for milk pie was included in a collection of her recipes passed over to me by my cousins. I show the recipe as written except I inserted (and vanilla). I did this with good reason because vanilla wasn’t mentioned in the instructions, so I left it out and had to sprinkle it in after the pie had been in the oven for a while —- OOPS!

When I baked this for the first time, I used a store-bought pie shell because I’m lazy and don’t enjoy making pie crust. My mom was a master at pie crust and so is my sister — she is the star pie maker in Ninilchik, Alaska. The store-bought pie crusts bake up very nicely. I used an eight-inch, old enamelware pie plate probably much like Granny Runt would have used seventy years ago. 

In making this pie, I followed the instructions precisely with 2% milk, all-purpose flour, and white sugar. This seems like a variation on custard pie and I was tempted to drop in an egg but stayed true to the recipe. I even stirred the mixture with my fingers. However, I did hit one snag — a different one than forgetting the vanilla. When I added the milk, I found only room for one cup, and after I stirred the mixture I still could only sneak in an additional quarter cup. I’m guessing the milk amount is a guesstimate as pie pans come in different depths, and to be fair, I didn’t measure to confirm that my pan was an eight-inch pie pan. 

As I write the pie is filling the kitchen with that rich aroma of vanilla and nutmeg which holds great promise, and at thirty minutes I could see the edges of the milk filling were starting to thicken. I am baking in a convection oven so I reduced the temperature to 350 F, which seems to be working just fine. 

For the sake of comparison, I have looked on the interweb for other recipes for Old Fashioned Milk Pie and found several. They all seem about the same except some are Guucied up with half & half, cinnamon, and/or brown sugar. I did find that most of them referenced an undefined amount of milk. That was reassuring. 

At the end of 45 minutes, the pie seemed not quite ready so I left it in the oven for a bit longer. As the pie cooks it lifts and bubbles. I found one recipe that said the pie was done when the center bubbled up and the center fell back down to its original level.  That makes sense to me. I also plan to let the pie sit at room temp and cool before slicing. To keep my itchy fingers out of it, I’ll go outside and do some chores while it cools.

The pie came out firm and moist, tasty too. I even figured out the one cautionary note in the recipe, ‘it may not be real thick’. I thought that this meant the filling may come out running, but I think it meant the pie would be thin, as in shallow. And it isn’t very thick, only about a half-inch, but a tasty half-inch.

Each taste of this simple pie reminds me of its origin. A pie that could be made with only the basics found in even the poorest kitchen. Lard and flour for crust and thickening, milk and sugar, maybe some nutmeg or cinnamon. That's all you needed to make a fine desert. My grandparents grew up poor, but they didn’t live poor. They had the humor, work ethic, and traditions to make poverty a way of life for midwestern subsistence farmers. Try this fine simple pie and think of my Granny Runt when you eat it.  She had a style like no other. 


Granny Runt’s Old Fashioned Milk Pie 2022 version

  • 1  Cup          granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 Cup         flour
  • About 1.5 cup homogenized milk 
  • 1 tsp          vanilla
  • Options:      sub some brown sugar, cream, half & half, or cinnamon.
  1. Put sugar and flour in 8" unbaked pie crust. Stir with your fingers until well mixed.  
  2. Add vanilla and enough milk to fill pie pan and stir. 
  3. Sprinkle nutmeg over  top. 
  4. Bake at 375 (350 convection) for about 45 - 60 minutes until center bubbles up and falls back on itself. 
  5. This is definitely a pie you want a cookie sheet under as it bakes. This may not be real thick.  
  6. Let it cool before cutting and serving.