Focus in on the delights of the kitchen and the table with ...

Yes, folks, this sweet and luscious little pie makes its very own crust, right there in the pan, like magic! And it's, like, so so good...

One of two recipes in Southern Pies with no crust to keep it all together, this makes a homemade dessert within reach even when time is short and attention to detail isn’t an option. Not that every pie in the book is quick and simple; that’s just where we’re starting off Pie-a-Day Month, like the warm-up before that 5-K run I haven’t been doing the last few years. Meringue, cooked fillings, and layered grandeur will be in the mix by the time we’re in the double-digits of October, so stay with me and you’ll find Butterscotch Pie, Coconut Custard Pie, and Black Bottom Pie taking center stage, each one well worth the investment of time they need. But this here pie, named in the book as “Amazing Coconut Pie” and widely known as “Impossible Pie”, takes the cake (sorry, irresistible pun there) in terms of do-it-now cooking. If you keep a supply of shredded coconut on your pantry shelf, and stay stocked up with eggs, butter, milk, and vanilla, you will always be under an hour away from a lovely little sweet finale, one which travels well if a covered dish/potluck is in your plans. If you have an ovenproof pie pan, such as a Pyrex pie plate, that is the ideal vessel for this pie, as it allows for browning all around the pie, and makes it easy for you to see how things are coming along even on the bottom and sides. If you don’t have one, and you love baking pies (or think you might — having the tools you need can help pie-baking-love blossom), consider adding one to your kitchenware supply. I have a sturdy and beautiful blue ceramic pie plate, an ovenproof glass pie plate, several sturdy dark-metal pie pans, and a teetering stack of aluminum pie pans, all of which you will see as Pie Month unfolds in this October of 2010. Expect this pie to puff up as it nears baked-status, from the outer edges into the middle, and then fret not when that handsome grandness disappears with nary a sigh of farewell. It’s the nature of custard pies, and it’s one of your clues that things are progressing as they should and that doneness is near and to be monitored more closely from then on. But the state of almost every pie (every one I can think of, but I could be missing some so I shall qualify) is to be flat and sensible and plain, excepting of course those lovelies whose lot it is to carry crowns of meringue or whipped cream, and as I said, we’ll get to that. But for today, it’s sweet and crunchy coconut in plush custard, easily and speedily made; and as for those of us here in Pie Month Headquarters, what with the milk and eggs taking center stage, those last 2 slices on the kitchen counter could make a special occasion cereal-free breakfast, just for today.

Nancie’s Magic Coconut Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 eggs, beaten well

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups shredded and sweetened coconut

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan (a deep-dish pie pan is ideal), with butter, vegetable oil, or shortening. Combine the sugar and flour in a medium bowl, and stir them together well, using a fork or a whisk. Add the milk, melted butter, beaten eggs, and vanilla, and stir to mix everything together well. Add the sweetened coconut, and stir until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Pour the coconut pie filling into the prepared pie pan and set it on the bottom rack of your 350 degree oven. Bake until the pie is golden brown, puffed up, and firm throughout, (the center may jiggle just a bit); this should take between 35 and 45 minutes. Set the pie on a cooling rack, or on a folded kitchen towel, and let it cool to room temperature.

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. Fran Reply

    How much flour?

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      So sorry for my error: it is 1/2 cup of flour. Hope my response on Facebook reached you, and happy cooking!

Leave a Reply