National Dessert of Florida: Key Lime pie

National Dessert of Florida: Key Lime pie

Look at those words written above? What do they tell you? Correct! We are talking here about a scrumptious dessert. A Pie! Probably one main ingredient required to make this pie is lime. Fair enough! But what is this key? Is it a key to guarantee access to the heaven that serves this particular  treasure? We don’t know for now! Let’s get started and dig into this pie, pun intended.


The origins of this pie are traced back to the country of USA, and to be precise, the place named Florida. It originated towards the late 19th century in the Key west area of Florida. The official mention of this recipe as ‘Key Lime Pie’ was first made by Key West’s first millionaire, William Curry, commonly known as ‘rich Bill’ who was also a ship salvager. The pie was made for him by his cook, Aunt Sally. It is widely believed however that Aunt Sally not only borrowed this recipe which was already known to the local sponge fishermen, but also perfected the art of making it by using an oven. When the fishermen would head out into the sea, they knew they would have to spend many a nights floating in water, doing fishing. There would be no food available many miles into the sea, and away from land. That is when the need arose to store food on the boat, which would last the fishermen, till they came back from their fishing expedition. So they carried on board a few food items which they knew would not spoil or rot, such as canned milk, limes and eggs, and a mixture of all these items is what led to the creation of key lime pie. Although the fishermen did not have access to an oven and made it just by topping one ingredient over the other, the official documented recipe however, suggests the use of an oven or even a microwave to dish out that perfect key lime pie.


Although the key lime pie was invented in America, the key lime tree did not grow there, until it was brought to the USA in 1500s by Spanish travellers from Malaysia of which it is a native tree. You will be forgiven if you confuse key limes with lemons because the skin is yellow-green in colour and has sometimes splashes of brown shades here and there. However, key limes are smaller in size as compared to the lemons. They even have more aroma than the Persian limes which are available in USA all the year round in most of the supermarkets and grocery stores. They are known by two other names, Mexican or West Indian limes. Unfortunately, in 1926 a hurricane hit the coast of South Florida and completely destroyed the key lime plantations. The cultivators then replaced them with, and replanted Persian limes, which are supposed to be easy to pick and transport.


How is this dish prepared, you ask? Well, the basic ingredients required are egg yolks, key lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. However they are many versions of this recipe of key lime pie. Food gourmands can go hours and hours endlessly talking about which the right method to make this delicious pie. Some people prefer their key lime pies to be softer and smoother whereas some others like it to have a crunchy crust. Some may want them topped with whipped cream whereas others would want a topping of meringue. Also available is the ice-cream topping which makes it all the more tempting! The original key lime pie recipe has a filling of light yellow. Again, food lovers argue over the right colour of the filling. But they all do agree on one thing, that is, the filling should never be of the color green.


The key lime pie is easy to make. Starting first with the pie, you need to melt butter first. Then pour this butter into a base and bake it in the oven. Then, remove it and allow it to cool. That’s your base! Now for the filling, you will require egg yolks, lime juice and condensed milk. Take a large glass bowl and add all of these three main ingredients. To mix it perfectly, you can take the help of an electric blender, or use a nice and firm spoon. Stir for around five minutes and pour this mixture on top of the cooled base. Then put it back in the oven for around 15-20 minutes and allow it to cook. After this is done, allow the dish to cool down for a minimum of three hours. Cooling it overnight is an even better option. The wait will be worth the effort, for this pie is surely made to give you a heavenly experience. When it’s time to serve, remove the pie slowly and carefully from the baking tin and put it on a serving dish. For the topping, use a dollop of whipped together cream and icing sugar, and perhaps you could also garnish it with a slice of the key lime fruit. Voila! Your dish is made and ready to be served.


Don’t be in a hurry to finish off the pie. Relish the delicate taste of the pie whilst allowing it to give you that melt-in-your-mouth experience.

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