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Sweet Café Classics - Key Lime Pie

Florida 2013. 

A small, quaint tea room not far from Orlando. I can't remember the name, but I can still picture it. Set in a white, clapboard Victorian-era house with a run-around porch. Small wobbly tables with white lacy tablecloths. And lots of kitsch-y nicknacks. All just perfect for an inquisitive 18 month old toddler to explore (in no way is that true). This was in the days before Sweet, when I was still in the depths of depression following the loss of my mum and trying to claw my way out. 

Our family holiday had been booked for over a year. We felt we should still go, as it would have been very difficult to disappoint the two oldest. I spent nearly two weeks looking after Sam, while the others did the rides. It was fine - no complaints here. But one of the things I  wanted to do - insisted on - was to find somewhere off the beaten tourist route that could serve up a slice of authentic key lime pie. We ventured south from Orlando in hot and humid August sunshine and pitched up at this place. In full Southern mode I tried iced tea for the first time (not a success). The pie, however, was delightful.

We don't enjoy the same kind of climate in Cardiff but when it comes around to summer, there is nothing nicer than sitting out in the sun with a cuppa and a slice of tart, creamy, lime goodness. This version, of course, uses normal limes. It also uses a ginger-nut biscuit base which is blind baked in the oven then left to cool. The filling is blended together, poured into the base and then set in the fridge overnight. You can serve with some whipped cream, if you like. But if not, it's none the worse for it and was a favourite with our customers whenever it appeared on the counter. 

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients (Serves 8)

For the biscuit base:

300g ginger biscuits

125g butter, melted

For the filling:

600g cream cheese (Philadelphia Original is good here - lower fat options do not set as well)

400g tin condensed milk

6 limes

Preheat your oven to 180 / Fan 160 / Gas 4.

Use a 9 inch /22.5 cm springform cake tin, lightly greased. Base line the pan with parchment (this will help you to get the pie out in one piece later!).

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until you get fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and blitz to combine. Tip out into the cake tin and press firmly to form a base, and so that it reaches up the sides of the tin by at least 1 inch / 2.5 cm. The biscuit mix needs to be spread thickly enough to form a case for the filling. In order to make it nice and even, I like to use a straight-sided stainless steel measuring cup with a flat base to help me press the mix in. 

Place on a baking try in the centre of the oven. The baking tray will help catch any of the butter if it leaks out of the springform pan.

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely (ideally a couple of hours).

When ready to make the filling, finely grate the zest of three of the limes and keep ready. Then, pare the remaining limes to get thin strips; keep these separate, and covered, in the fridge as you'll use them to decorate the pie later.

Juice all six limes and, if necessary, strain the juice to remove any bits. The amount of juice you may get will vary, depending on the size and condition of the limes.

Place the cream cheese, condensed milk and grated lime zest in a bowl. Using a hand blender, mix well to combine until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Add half the lime juice and mix well, Taste, and see if it is to your liking. Add some more to taste, if you like, but try to ensure that the mix does not get too liquid (it will firm up after chilling). You're aiming for something that is the consistency of soured cream. For this pie, I used around 150ml

Pour the mix into the cooled case. If your sides are a little low, don't worry - just heap the mix more into the centre. Place in the fridge to chill - and set - for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).

When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and place on your serving plate. Gently unclip the springform sides. Use a small palette knife to gently run around the edge if it shows any sign of sticking. Lift off the ring carefully. Using the palette knife, gently run the blade between the base of the tin and the parchment paper. This should help loosen the pie. Carefully ease the pie onto your serving plate. Decorate with lime zest strips.

Give it a few minutes (no more than 10) before slicing. You want to strike the right balance between being able to cut the base easily and not having had it sat out too long so the filling starts to warm and become too loose.


Susie xx


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