Our Key Lime Pie Ingredients
Here at Steve’s Authentic, we’re quite proud of the product we make and the ingredients we use. As purists, we insist on making everything we can “in-house”, and not relying on outside suppliers who control the ingredients for the sake of simplicity or what is easier. We do the hard work because know what the results are. We are basically recreating the very same key lime pie Steve was making for his family and friends as a young man in Miami, in fact, some of the ingredients have gotten better over the years.
We start with our crust, which we make here. Other bakeries, even those touting authenticity, rely on purchasing pre-made crust from commercial factories where the “bottom line” mentality always prevails. As we’ve done from day-one, we make all of our crusts for all of our products here in our bakery.
We start with a premium Graham crumb formula, baked at a specialty bakery who only make dessert crumbs. The particular formula we use is minimally processed, the list of ingredients is probably 20% of what you’d find in a commercially made Graham cracker, and the formula is trans-fat free. This is one of those cases where our ingredients have improved over the years, as we are always striving to make the best product we can, not cheapen it by reducing the quality of the ingredients.
We incorporate 100% pure butter, basically the “glue” that holds the crumbs together. When baked, the molten butter toasts the Graham crumbs while being imbedded into the crumbs themselves. The result, when cooled, is a rich, crisp, cookie-like consistency that cannot be rivaled by any commercially made crust. We’ve always done it this way and we always will, even though there are less expensive alternatives to using butter.
Our filling comes next. Another example of ingredients getting better over the years. The primary ingredient used is sweetened and condensed milk. Back home in Miami, and for many years commercially, we used a canned milk product, which was produced, packaged, shipped to a distributor, shipped to a wholesaler and eventually delivered or purchased by us. You had little or no control over the handling of the product or how long it sat canned in a warehouse or truck before it finally made way to the bakery.
We have tracked down a dairy in the Mid-West who routinely produces sweetened and condensed milk. When we place our order, the next production run is packed into 5-gallon buckets, placed on a pallet, shipped by refrigerated truck, and within a few days, sitting in our walk-in fridge. The quality of this product cannot be had out of a can, this sweetened and condensed milk is undoubtedly the freshest available, anywhere. We take great pride in using this product in our pies and bringing it to our customers.
The egg yolks are a touchy subject for us. As purists, we would prefer not using a processed product, but as everyone knows, raw egg yolks always stand the chance of salmonella contamination. We do not recommend using raw egg yolks for this very reason, although there are methods of pasteurizing yolks at home (we will post this later in a “how to” video). This procedure simply cannot be done on the scale that we produce our pies, so the choice really came down between using pasteurized yolks or baking the filling. Being the sticklers we are for authenticity, the decision was easy. Traditionally, key lime pies were never baked, it was always the “fill and chill” method. The baking of the filling changes too much of the quality that makes a key lime pie so special. The consistency changes and the flavor of the lime juice is altered by the heat.
Now comes the magic, the element that sets our product apart from other commercial bakeries, the one thing we’ve done from the beginning and will continue to do as long as we’re making key lime pies. Fresh squeezed key limes, the only source of juice we use, period. I’ve met other key lime pie bakers, in Key West no less, who asked why I didn’t just use a bottled key lime juice. I found this incredulous, the very idea of using processed key lime juice simply on account of ease of use. This is the very reason I began making key lime pies years ago, it seems that people just don’t want to do the hard work. You would be hard-pressed to find any of the commercial key lime bakeries in Key West who are using real, fresh squeezed key limes.
We stand proud of this point, and feel that we’ve earned our bragging rights. As I’ve said many times before, we do recommend the bottled from imported concentrate, complete with chemical preservatives, reconstituted and complete with a real Key West label variety of key lime juice, if you’re stripping paint or removing rust, but not not in a food product. Even if you’re making a key lime pie at home (which we will post a how-to video later), you’re better off using fresh squeezed Persian (regular) limes.
If you’d like to see a video walk-through of our ingredients, please visit our video pages and have a look.
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