Easy as American pie

It’s the Fourth of July tomorrow, when Americans celebrate their Independence Day. It’s a family holiday, marked with parades, fireworks, fairs, concerts, picnics and barbecues.

Take your cue from this holiday by holding an American-themed braai this weekend – hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill accompanied by colesaw and potato salad. Round off the meal with a slice of one of these quintessential American pies.

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Three of the pies use crushed biscuits as a base. Just place the biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they resemble breadcrumbs.

If you don’t have a processor, put the biscuits in a heavy plastic bag and whack them with a rolling pin.


200g digestive biscuits, crushed

100g dark chocolate, grated

80g butter, melted


100g chocolate

100g butter

2 eggs

80ml brown sugar

100ml cream


150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

45ml golden syrup

strawberries for decoration

grated white chocolate for decoration

Combine the biscuits and chocolate with the butter and mix well. Press into the base and halfway up the sides of a 20cm spring-form cake pan. Refrigerate until set.

Combine the chocolate and butter and microwave on medium for 2-3 minutes until melted and smooth. Allow to cool.

Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Mix in the cream and fold through the cooled chocolate mixture.

Spoon into the crust and bake at 160°C for 40-50 minutes until just set.

Remove and cool completely.

The pie will collapse slightly.

For the topping, combine the chocolate, cream and syrup in a bowl and microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes. Stir until smooth.

Pour onto the pie and refrigerate for a few hours until firm.

Remove the pie from the pan and decorate with strawberries and white chocolate if desired.


200g tennis biscuits, crushed

30ml desiccated coconut

100g butter, melted

400g can of coconut milk

250ml full cream milk

125ml castor sugar

125ml desiccated coconut

pinch of salt

80ml cornflour

5 egg yolks

30g butter

5ml vanilla essence

250ml cream

30ml sugar

3ml vanilla essence

coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Combine the crushed biscuits with the coconut. Add the butter and mix well.

Press into a 20cm pie plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

FILLING: Put the coconut milk, milk, sugar, coconut and salt in a pot. Heat gently for |5 minutes until just boiling.

Mix the cornflour and egg yolks well.

Add some of the hot liquid to the yolks and mix well.

Return the mixture to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, over a medium heat until the mixture thickens and boils.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla essence.

Pour the mixture into the cold crust. Refrigerate for a few hours until set.

TOPPING: Beat the cream with the sugar and vanilla essence until thick.

Spoon on to the set filling and sprinkle with coconut flakes.



500ml flour

45ml castor sugar

150g butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten

ice water to mix


120g butter

225g brown sugar

15-20ml syrup

3 eggs

2ml vanilla essence


200g pecan nuts, roughly chopped, reserving a few whole for the top

PASTRY: Put the flour, castor sugar and butter into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and enough ice water to bring the dough together to form a ball.

Wrap the dough in cling-film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out on a floured surface large enough to line a 22cm shallow pie dish.

Line the dish with the pastry and bake blind by placing a sheet of non-stick baking paper on the pastry. Cover with dried beans.

Bake at 180°C for |15-20 minutes.

Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for 10 minutes to dry out the base. Remove and cool.

FILLING: Melt together butter, sugar and syrup. Do not boil.

Beat together the eggs, vanilla essence and a pinch of salt.

Stir this into syrup off the heat. Fold in pecans and pour into the pastry case.

Arrange the whole pecans on top.

Bake at 180°C until the filling is set and the top is brown, about 35-40 minutes.


1x23cm unbaked shortcrust pastry shell


250ml sugar

60ml flour

3ml salt

2ml ground ginger

5ml ground cinnamon

3ml ground nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of ground allspice

3 large eggs, beaten

250ml cooked and |mashed pumpkin

250ml evaporated milk

3 ml vanilla essence

60ml chopped pecans (optional)

Combine the sugar, flour, salt and spices.

Mix in eggs.

Stir in the mashed pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla essence.

Turn the mixture into the pastry shell. Sprinkle with pecans, if using.

Bake at 180°C for 30 to 40 minutes, or until set.

The filling may crack slightly.

The pie is baked when a knife inserted in the filling comes out clean.

Serve with a generous helping of whipped cream or even some ice cream.


200g tennis biscuits

4 eggs

385g can of condensed milk

10ml grated lime zest

125ml lime juice

5ml vanilla extract

lime slices, for decorating

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they resemble breadcrumbs.

Add the melted butter and mix.

Press the crumbs into the base and sides of a 20cm pie dish.

FILLING: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except the lime slices and whisk well.

Pour into the pie crust and bake until filling sets to a consistency of soft custard, about 15-20 minutes.

Decorate with lime slices and serve with whipped cream if desired.