Hello readers, and welcome to The Dutch Oven, a mixture of Q&A, information and insight about our wonderful Southern culinary culture. Lift the lid and see what’s inside today.
Icebox Pie: The name alone recalls sticky summer days made a bit more comfortable by the cool creaminess of this favored dessert. But what is an icebox pie and how did it come by that name?
Long before electricity brought modern refrigeration to the rural South, people kept food cold in the icebox, an insulated wooden or metal cupboard with a space for a block of ice and shelves to store food. Without the convenience of bagged ice for sale at the corner store, farmers would purchase, as often as twice a week, a block of ice from a local ice house or the traveling ice truck, wrap it in thick material such as burlap and heave that heavy block (usually 25-50 lb.) into the icebox.
The oppressive temperatures of the summer tend to make you think twice before heating up the kitchen to bake a cake, and this was especially true when the farmer's wife had to keep the wood-burning oven hot enough, long enough, to bake desserts. Much more appealing was the minimal amount of time it took to blend together eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and a flavoring such as lemon juice, then pour the mixture into a graham-cracker crust and chill
it in the icebox. The flavor profile of the pie could be changed by using different ingredients such as melted chocolate or fresh fruits. Later on, when we learned that consuming raw eggs is risky, we added short bake times to the recipes to ensure food safety.
Whether you simply stir-and-pour your recipe (some are egg-less) or bake it for a few minutes, the easy preparation and refreshing quality of an icebox pie have guaranteed its place on the list of favorite Southern summertime desserts.
What is your favorite icebox pie recipe?
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