Pennsylvania Dutch Milk Pie
Milk pies were small, 6 or 7-inch pies made with leftover scraps of pie crusts and just a few basic ingredients. They’re some of the easiest pies you’ll ever make. Milk pies were given to children, who often remember them fondly despite their lowly status as leftovers from “real” pies! I’ve heard lots of names for them: milk flabby pies, milk flitche, Johnny pies, sugar pies, stingy pies, poor man’s pies, and milk tarts.
Milk pies are filled with flour, white or brown sugar, milk and/or cream, some dabs of butter, and cinnamon and/or nutmeg sprinkled on top. Some people also add a pinch of salt or a drizzle of molasses or vanilla. In some families, the milk is poured on top of the flour/sugar mixture but not stirred into it, so that you get a thicker layer on the bottom and a thinner, milkier layer on top. Some folks, like myself, like to mix the milk in to get a consistent, firmer texture.
Making Vegan Milk Pie
I fell in love with milk pie all over again when I got this adorable miniature pie dish. It’s 6 and 3/4-inches in diameter, yet it’s deep dish–so you get funky, tall little slices.
My favorite milk pie recipe is from Betty Groff’s Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook. I’ve tried replacing the milk with soy milk, but I found that almond milk has a better taste here. Plus, the brighter white color of almond milk looks great. I replaced the cream with full-fat coconut milk, specifically Trader Joe’s coconut cream; it’s the thickest I could find, and it’s really cheap in stores. If you’re not crazy for coconut, don’t worry–the finished pie won’t taste too much like coconut. Then I just substituted vegan margarine (Earth Balance) for butter and used organic sugar so that I know the sugar is vegan.
Betty Groff’s recipe doesn’t call for any vanilla, but I prefer a bit of vanilla in milk pie. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, but if I was using a regular flavored almond milk I would add 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Similarly, if you use a sweetened almond milk, you might want to reduce the sugar. The lowest you want to go is equal parts flour and sugar.