Thursday, 31 May 2012

United Bakes of America Round One... and a Key Lime Pie for the state of Florida!

So to kick off the United Bakes of America challenge...I baked the Key Lime Pie from Warren Brown's fantastic book.  

Let's start by talking about how this amazing little pie came to be.  One of my favourite parts of this book is hearing all the little back stories that go along with each dessert.  It obviously originated in Southern Florida and we all know that Florida gets pretty hot so back in the mid 1800s before refrigeration it was impossible to keep fresh milk.  So in stepped sweetened condensed milk - in fact Key Lime Pie is directly linked to the development of it, so we owe a lot to Key Lime Pie! 

Key limes themselves are actually native to Malaysia, they were brought over to the Caribbean in the 1500s by the Spanish and from there they made there way over to Florida.  They are smaller than Persian limes, usually the size of walnuts and they have green-yellow skins and so are definitely distinguishable from Persian limes.  

One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to make it authentic, I'm talking real key limes! I was in contact with Whole Foods who told me they could get in key limes whenever I wanted but unfortunately it came to nothing in the end.  I scoured every American grocery website for Key Lime Juice but was coming up with nothing.  I even contacted a very famous cupcake company here in the UK who sells both Key Lime Pie and Key Lime Cupcakes to ask them where they get their Key Lime Juice from only to be told that they just use regular limes and it works just the same!

I was a little bit dismayed! I am fully aware that using regular limes would still produce something edible but then it would just be Lime Pie and not Key Lime Pie.  That would be like me making an apple pie with Granny Smith Apples and then calling it a Bramley apple pie - that just wouldn't make any sense! so why do people continue to use the title Key Lime when they have in fact used regular limes! So I took matters into my own hands and called on my amazing friend Kathi, remember I told you she helped me out a few posts back - well this Key Lime Juice arrived at my house no less than a week after I sent out a desperate plea of help for some! and I haven't stopped baking with it since!

I was SO excited to bake a REAL Key Lime Pie! so of course since I was going all out I had to make my own homemade graham crackers too so it could have an authentic graham cracker crust!

It was definitely worth all the effort involved! I made it for my mom's birthday last week as she is a huge Key Lime Pie lover and we all agreed that we could definitely taste a difference and that it was the best Key Lime Pie I've had while in the UK. Who could turn down a creamy tart filling on a crunchy graham cracker base topped with soft meringue?

Also, you may notice that my filling was yellow.  Authentic key lime filling is always creamy yellow and should never under any circumstance be tinted green - that's a direct order from Mr Brown and since he knows more than a thing or two I was more than happy to follow his orders!

Key Lime Pie:
Serves 16
From United Cakes of America

For the crust:
200g graham crackers
3 tbsp caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted
1/8 tsp salt

For the filling:
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks (save the whites too)
1 tin (396g) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice

For the meringue:
2 egg whites
1 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
Grease a 9x3" round pan and line the bottom with parchment.
Crush crackers into crumbs in a blender, or with a rolling pin and a zip loc bag.  Toss them with the melted butter and sugar until combined and press the mixture firmly into the base and the sides of the pan.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Beat 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks lightly with a whisk (set aside your 2 whites for the meringue).  Add condensed milk and whisk until blended.  Whisk in Key Lime Juice slowly, as you add it the custard will thicken.  Pour the filling into the pre prepared crust.  Set the pan in a water bath with 1/3 warm water surrounding the pan (I didn't do this and my filling turned out fine).  Bake until filling is lightly browned on top and doesn't jiggle when gently shaken.  Let cool to room temperature.

Turn the oven up to 200 degrees C.
Beat the two reserved egg whites with a wire whisk in a free standing mixer until stiffened.
Drizzle in the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Arrange meringue on top and place the pie in the oven to lightly brown the top, about 5 minutes.  

So there you have it a Key Lime Pie for Florida....

and what do you do with leftover homemade graham crackers - whip up some s'mores of course! yum!

now let's get on to checking out the other amazing American treats that were baked up this month by all the awesome bloggers who entered the United Bakes of America!

First up was Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker with these absolutely drool worthy Hershey's Cookies 'n' Cream Brownies.  She made a recent trip to Asda and was impressed by their array of baking goodies especially their American ones so she picked up a bar of this Cookies 'n' Cream chocolate and baked it into the middle of some moist, fudgy and delicious brownies - sounds like a winning combo to me! 

Next up were some awesome Oreo Surprise Cupcakes by Cakes from Kim, despite not being a biscuit person and preferring a digestive even when she does indulge in the odd biscuit (I know what a shocker!) Kim has developed an Oreo obsession (haven't we all!) So when the theme for her first Clandestine Cake Club was favourite things she whipped up an Oreo layer cake and made these Oreo cupcakes too, complete with a whole Oreo cookie waiting to surprise you at the bottom - now that is the kind of surprise I'm talking about! 

Charlotte from Lottie's World of Cakes and Bakes whipped up this very elegant Hershey's Kisses Chocolate Tray Bake.  Not only did she pipe row upon row of beautiful pink and brown ruffle frosting but she finished off her tray bake by strategically placing Hershey's Kisses all over it! which I thought was a rather inspired way to use those little Kisses! and these extra special Kisses actually came all the way from New York! now that's a well travelled Kiss! 

Kit at I-Lost in Austen baked up this stunner of a Rose Chiffon Cake.  The Chiffon cake was apparently invented by Harry Baker in my favourite place in the whole world - California - back in 1927.  I have never had a Chiffon Cake myself, but it is meant to be known for being light and fluffy with moist crumbs that just melt in your mouth - doesn't that just sound dreamy! 

Susie from Fold in the Flour made this very impressive Jubilee Royal Velvet Cake.  I know you may be thinking what's American about that! but actually if you took away the crown and the Union Jack flags it could very well be a Patriotic dessert for any American themed bash with it's red, white and blue layers of velvet cake! Not only that, but the recipe used came from Sprinkle Bakes - an amazing American blogger  from Tennessee who invents the most show stopping cakes! Susie made the blue sugar crown on top herself and I think it adds a definite flair to the overall finish! 

Cake Fairy baked up our 3rd Oreo offering which I was only too glad to see because in my book you can never have enough Oreo treats! This Chocolate Oreo Cake has ground up Oreo crumbs in the cake and is sandwiched with some Oreo cream cheese frosting, I love the colour of it - you can tell there's a bit of Oreo overload going on in there! 

The final bake was sneaked in by my sister Mara who blogs over at Creative Crafter.  She made Chanterelle Choc Chip Cookies, from a new recipe book she picked up by Kate Zuckerman, a New York pastry chef.  She said don't let their appearance deceive you, as they are super crispy and chewy and make your house smell heavenly whilst they are baking! 

I loved seeing all the American inspired bakes you came up with this month! and cannot wait to see what next month brings! 

I will be planning to bake Smith Island Cake which originates from Maryland next month.  
You have the whole month of June to join along with me with any American ingredients or American recipe or State inspired dish you can come up with.  Email it to me by June 30th to be included in the round up.  
If you're new to United Bakes of America, then there's a reminder of the rules here.


  1. Great round up Gem - some fantastic bakes for the first month! Thank for organising it - it was great fun to take part :)x

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I loved seeing the bakes come in!

  2. Ooh, sounds like a fun idea! I'll have to try and make this Smith Island Cake this month!

    1. Yay that would be super fun! I love your blog so am excited to have you joining in!

  3. I LOVE your key lime pie - well done for making your own graham crackers and sourcing real key lime juice. That is serious dedication to the cause :) Great round up too - will get my thinking cap on for this month.

    1. hehe yeah I did think to myself it would be so much easier to just crush up HobNobs or something but it's good to know now that homemade graham crackers aren't too tricky to whip up. I'm excited to see what you bake this month! (if you're not too tired out from all your Jubilee bakes! hehe)

    2. Ive already baked something yesterday from Paula Deen and Martha Stewart (online recipes) - do they count? Probably won't get round to blogging them for a while as have a long Q of posts currently or I may make something else :)

    3. Yes of course they count, you can't get more American than Paula or Martha! I know what you mean about the Q...crazy how quick they gather up isn't it!

  4. Great round up! It's oreo heaven! Fab challenge!

    1. yes! Oreo heaven is my kind of heaven! hehe, thanks for joining along!

  5. What a fab round up!!! I love the look of that Key Lime Pie too! Now I've got my new American inspired recipe book, I'm hoping to enter this month!! :-)

    1. Woo that is seriously exciting! I cannot wait to see what you whip up!

  6. Keylime Pie is such a favorite in this house - yours looks fabulous!
    Mary x

    1. Thanks Mary it is a definite favourite in ours too! I only wish more restaurants/places in England actually sold it when you were eating out too!

  7. Yummmy! Key Lime Pie is quintessentially Florida fare, and is so so good! This looks awesome.

    1. Thanks Hayley! Maybe you'll join in with us next month, it would be great to see what you come up with!

  8. I love the Key Lime Pie :) I made one a while ago and I really liked it! That reminds me I haven't blogged about that at all LOL I've always loved this combination! I'm sorry that I didn't participate this time :( I've been so busy with work and everything else but I promise next time I'll particpate! Hope you've been well and all ready to go to Vancouver!

  9. Yum: lovely American treats!
    Your Key Lime Pie looks really delicious! So great you got your hands on the original key lime juice, thanks to Kathi! Your life as a baker is going to be so much easier once you're in Vancouver ;-)

  10. Some fantastice entries! Love the key lime pie if only we could get the juice here!

  11. Mmmmmmm to all!!!!!!!!!! And I agree, you can never have too many Oreo dessert recipes :)



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