this post is sponsored by bob’s red mill. thank you for supporting the partnerships that allow brewing happiness to grow and exist. xoxo.
Ever since I moved to NYC and watched the Chef’s Table episode featuring Christina Tosi, I knew I wanted to go to the original Milk Bar and try the Crack Pie. At long last I made it happen and immediately knew I had to make my own version. (If you’ve never had Crack Pie, it’s sort of like a buttermilk/custard pie with an oat/corn cookie crust.) Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing. But you can really taste every ounce of butter and sugar that goes into it if you know what I mean.
Butter and sugar are WONDERFUL ingredients, but I thought I had a chance to make something *slightly* healthier and in doing so also make a version with slightly more nuance. So I made the crust with Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Sugar, instead of brown sugar and refined sugar. I sweetened the custard filling with honey so it has that smooth, flowery sweetness instead of that sticky, caramel sweetness that the original has. I used Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour (which is different than corn meal and/or corn starch) to keep that classic corn flavor that is in the original recipe. My version also uses a mixture of non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar in place of buttermilk or milk powder.
I tried to make the crust gluten free, and didn’t succeed. I attempted to make the crust a single-bake crust – instead of baking a cookie, breaking it apart, mixing it with butter and cooking it again – but that didn’t work either. So I took my successes where they lay, and went with the new version that worked best for me. So yes, you have to double bake the crust, but it will truly make one of the best pies you’ve ever had.
One final note on the differences between my version and the original is that the texture of the filling is going to be slightly different on the top, mostly because of the honey vs. sugar thing that’s happening. This pie won’t develop that pecan-pie-like caramelized top. This is just a smooth, rich custard. I like it just as much, but I just wanted to say it up front so no one gets upset.
I brought one of the test pies with me to this year’s Friendsgiving and got a big thumbs up. Everyone liked it, no complaints. I highly recommend it as a great crowd pleaser for all of your holiday events! I find it’s one of those flavors that doesn’t disagree with anyone. If you have any questions about how to make the pie refer to the video below the recipe. I hope it’s helpful. xo.
Healthyish Crack Pie
This Healthyish Crack Pie is a naturally sweetened version of the Milk Bar classic, with a oat-corn flour crust and a non-dairy buttermilk custard filling!
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp Bob's Red Mill Corn Flour
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- powdered sugar
- whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350.
In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together 6 tbsp of softened butter, and 1/4 + 2 tbsp coconut sugar until smooth.
Once smooth, add in 1 egg and beat on high again until well mixed. (Don't worry, at this stage the mixture will split - this isn't your fault.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add in rolled oats, corn flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat gradually at increasing speeds until the batter is smooth and sticks to the side of the bowl.
Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Scoop your oat-cookie batter into the baking pan and use a second sheet of parchment paper, coated with nonstick spray to press the batter into the pan. Smooth the batter into an even, flat cookie. Remove the top parchment paper.
Bake at 350 for 17 minutes.
After 17 minutes, remove the cookie from the oven and let it cool in the pan.
Once the cookie is removed from the oven, move on to the filling. Begin by combining non dairy milk and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl or jar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove your cookie from the pan and transfer it to a cooling rack. Then turn your attention back to the filling and begin to add in the other ingredients (ie. honey, corn flour, corn starch, egg, egg yolks, and vanilla.) Whisk vigorously until well combined. Set aside.
Crumble your cooled cookie into a large bowl. Add 3 tbsp softened butter and 1 tbsp coconut sugar. Use your hands to mix the butter and sugar into the cookie, while breaking the cookie down into a sand-like texture.
Coat a 9" glass pie dish with nonstick spray, and transfer the cookie crumble into the dish. Use parchment paper to press the cookie crumble into the pan creating an even crust. Be sure to really press the sides to make sure it doesn't fall apart when baking.
Place your pie dish on the center of middle oven rack. Carefully pour your filling into the pie crust. Gently push the rack into the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for at least 20-30 minutes before serving.
Serve with a healthy sprinkle of powdered sugar and whipped cream.
I’ve decided to let you in on the behind the scenes of the work and neurosis that goes into creating a recipe and post like this one. A few months back I shared the true BTS on a day in the life of my job and a lot of people seemed interested in it. So I thought I’d carry that same sentiment into this post. If you’re interested – great! If not – hopefully it at least makes you *slightly* more appreciative for this free internet recipe.
- Watched the Chef’s Table episode with Christina Tosi , and was incredibly inspired.
- Went to Milk Bar to try the OG version, and conduct some “market research.” lol.
- Got my recipe concept approved by Bob’s Red Mill, and ordered both corn flour and corn meal to use for testing.
- 1st test – Filling was too thick, but generally liked the flavor. Wanted to test making a single-bake crust. Also wanted to test if the filling thickness was due to ingredients or cooking time/temp?
- 2nd test – Tried a single bake crust. Did NOT work.
- 3rd test – Tried a single bake crust and blind baked it first with baking weights. Didn’t work either.
- 4rd test – Tried a gluten free crust with all corn flour. Didn’t hold together. Loosened the filling, but maybe it’s too loose?
- 5th test – Tried a gluten free crust with flaxseed meal. Didn’t work.
- 6th test – Went back to a all purpose/corn flour double bake crust. Tried thickening up the filling again, but cooking it on a lower temp. Attempted adding coconut sugar at the end and turning up the temp to create a caramelization on top. Didn’t work the way I wanted it to.
- 7th test – Reworked the all purpose/oat/corn flour ratio in the crust. Tried broiling the top with coconut sugar after having baked the custard through. It turned out too dry.
- 8th test (Saturday the 24th) – Decided to ditch the coconut sugar on top idea and just go for a good custard-like filling. Finally nailed the recipe. Shot *most* of the photos for this post. I didn’t shoot the one with the salad & cheese plate this day because I wanted to go to the farmer’s market the next day and buy some ingredients and flowers for the shot.
- (Sunday the 25th) – Attempted to go to the farmer’s market in the morning, only to find out they were closed for the winter. So I headed back home and set up my video set up. From 10am-2pm I shot the video (and made another pie consequently.) I also threw together the cheese plate/salad shot and took those photos at the end of the photo shoot. After that I edited the photos for this post, and decided which ones to add to the blog and what order they would go in.
- (Monday the 26th) – Went to edit the video only to find that one of the shots was missing from my camera (I think my camera died in the middle of the shot and stopped recording.) So I had to reset up that shot and do it again. Finished editing the video. Uploaded it to Youtube. Meanwhile, I imported the photos to WordPress, added captions, typed out the intro and the recipe, and now am finally finishing up this blog post.
- (Tuesday the 27th) – You will read this post and it will be out in the world.
Here is the missing part of the timeline, the neurotic part that you won’t see…
- I’m only semi-happy with these photos. I wish I had another day to shoot, or could have waited to shoot until I was inspired.
- The video feels mediocre to me, but, again, I didn’t have time to reshoot. I am frustrated currently by the limitations of only being one person when it comes to shooting video. I’m also frustrated by the limitations of my shooting situation. (I shoot videos in my bedroom, which is NOT a lot of space, and I’m constantly running back and forth between my bedroom and kitchen and creating a huge mess that I later have to clean up.)
- I wish I had had time to continue testing and make a gluten-free version of the crust, but alas this is what it is. I’ll leave the gluten-free version to my friend Alanna.
- You also won’t see the amount of time it takes me to write a blog post. It’s A LOT. Writing is something I love, but not something I always want to do if that makes sense. There are times when the inspiration flows and times when I feel like I’m hitting a wall constantly. That is today.
Hopefully this little dive into what it takes to make one recipe gives you a little bit more insight/appreciation for the bloggers you love and how much work they put into this little corner of the internet. This is a creative job, and one that I love so so much, but it’s still a job. One with timelines and restrictions and limitations. So I am just doing my best to bring you the best content possible within that premise. I hope you enjoy it. It’s why I put my whole heart in it. To give you a recipe or a word or a thought that makes your life a little happier or healthier.
Thank you for being here. xo.