If I had to do it all over again, I would have made a different pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma. But Betty said to bring a Key lime pie, so I did.
Heartburn, Nora Ephron, Chapter 13
I've always considered myself a fan of Nora Ephron's writing, despite only ever experiencing it through her sharp, warm and witty films. I recently rectified this, and devoured her novel Heartburn on a particularly long night-bus journey home (it's pretty short). A semi-autobiographical novel inspired by the breakdown of Ephron's marriage, it is a bit of a precursor to her later works, including When Harry Met Sally - the one by which all other romantic comedies are measured.
It turns out that Heartburn is also ideal for this blog - the central character is a food writer, so the book is littered with recipes and conversations about food. Alongside the perfect mashed potato, a 'secret recipe' vinaigrette and her sublime carbonara, this Key lime pie is a particularly memorable moment in the book. My friend Sonia and I managed to time our consumption of it with the moment in the film version when Meryl Streep plants her version squarely into Jack Nicholson's face. Perfect.
A final note here - I had intended to make my own biscuits, and perhaps even attempt something extravagant, inspired by Ryan's famous Key lime pie from the Bake Off a couple of years back. But, as fate would have it, it was one of 'those weeks' at work. So I embraced Ephron's simple instructions (I've included them verbatim below), and made something that truly was 'easy as pie', achievable even at 11.30pm.
Heartburn, Chapter 13 The Key lime pie is very simple to make. First you line a 9-inch pie plate with a graham cracker crust. Then beat 6 egg yolks. Add 1 cup lime juice (even bottled lime juice will do), two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk, and 1 tablespoon grated lime rind. Pour into the pie shell and freeze. Remove from freezer and spread with whipped cream. Let sit five minutes before serving.
Key Lime Pie
Serves 8 generously (or ideal for one pie-in-the-face moment)
300g packet of Hob Nobs (or graham crackers if you're in the States)
6 egg yolks
Zest of 6 limes
250ml lime juice
2 tins (397g each) condensed milk
300ml double cream
Zest of one additional lime
Food processor (or sturdy plastic bag and rolling pin)
20cm loose-bottomed deep flan dish (mine has 3cm high sides, which provides the optimal crust to filling ratio)
Citrus juicer and zester
Electric hand whisk
1. Preheat your oven to 160C. Melt the butter in the small saucepan and set aside to cool.
2. Blitz (or bash) the Hob Nobs to smithereens, then stir the cooled butter through them. The biscuit dust should clump back together - once it does, press it into the flan dish, pushing it firmly into the corners and up the sides.
3. Place the biscuit crust in the oven for ten minutes until browned, then remove and allow it to cool.
4. While the crust is baking, beat the egg yolks until light and foamy. Beat in the condensed milk, and then the lime juice and zest. The acidity of the lime will react with the condensed milk, causing it to thicken and set without the need for baking. If you're worried about eating raw egg yolks, do put it in the oven for ten minutes. I'm not concerned so, once the mixture had thickened, I poured it straight into the cooled pie crust and transferred it to the freezer.
5. Leave the pie in the freezer for at least 6 hours (or overnight). Once you're ready to serve it, remove from the freezer and slip the pie out of the flan tin. Leave it to sit for five minutes to defrost. Beat the cream to soft peaks. Spoon the cream over the pie and zest a lime over the top. Serve in large slices.