Friday, May 30, 2008

grandma j's butterscotch pie

fred and martha johnson
kopper kettle restaurant
economy, indiana
circa 1950

i’m one of those people who likes the “idea” of cooking more than the actual work in the kitchen. maybe it’s because I grew up helping my grandma j cook. she and my grandpa ran a small restaurant called the kopper kettle. it was just a few hundred yards away from the house where i grew up so i spent a great deal of time there. they made pretty much everything from scratch – salisbury steak, ham with raisin sauce, giant tenderloins and old-fashioned ham and beans with cornbread. (think “hey, pa, what’s for dinner?” and you’ll get the picture of this small town country cooking). i pretty much started going to the kettle to hang out with grandma when i was 5 or 6. she let me stir things and taught me how to measure ingredients. eventually i went to work there as a real paying job, washing dishes, waiting tables, peeling potatoes, every odd job that i could do to help them out. they each worked 12 plus hours a day to keep that little gem of a diner going. and believe me, they packed people in after church on sundays.

one of the most popular things on the menu (and my personal favorite) was grandma’s famous homemade pie. she excelled at a flaky crust made with lard; granted it wasn’t healthy for you, but it tasted superb! she made several varieties every day such as lemon meringue, strawberry, black raspberry, apricot, coconut, sugar crème, pecan and peach. but in my opinion the most unique pie she made was butterscotch. to this day, i’ve never tasted a better butterscotch pie. so, as a tribute to my grandma j, here’s the recipe.


1 firmly packed, heaping cup of light brown sugar
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 eggs
2 cups of milk (at least 2%)
1 baked pie shell (store bought is fine, that’s how I make it)
2 T of water
handful of granulated sugar

separate 2 eggs by putting the whites into a medium mixing bowl. place the yolks into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. fill the glass measuring cup up with milk (slightly less than 2 cups) and beat the yolks into the milk with a fork. set aside.

in a medium saucepan or preferably an iron skillet, melt the 2 T of butter. add the brown sugar and cook on medium/high until the mixture begins to bubble and caramelize. the color will turn to a darker brown. take off the heat and stir in the 2 T of flour. slowly, a little bit at a time, add the milk/egg yolk mixture. immediately put back on the stove and cook on medium until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. pour into the pre-baked pie crust.

add 2 T of water to the egg whites in the medium mixing bowl. with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium/high until peaks form. add a handful of sugar and beat until well mixed. use a plastic spatula to spoon the meringue onto the top of the pudding in the pie crust. make peaks on top of the pie so it looks nice. bake at 350 degrees until the top of the meringue is a nice golden brown.

let this cool for a bit before cutting so the pudding has a chance to set up. Enjoy and please let me know what you think!


steviewren said...

Grandmothers and cooking...those two things are synonymous in my thinking. I would love to have a slice of that pie. You are fortunate to have the recipe. My grandmother made a wonderful Orange Cake but the recipe died with her.

I love old photos and that is a great one.

Tess Kincaid said...

Oh Julie, you know how much I adore old family photos. This one is wonderful!

I am going to cut and paste this recipe...sounds heavenly!

So are you a Hoosier, too? I was born in Kokomo.

julie king said...

thanks, ladies!
so sad steviewren that you don't have the orange cake recipe. i know it is something that you would cherish!

willow, i was born in dunedin, florida but only lived there a few months. i lived the rest of my life until 10 years ago in the hagerstown, indiana area. small world!

XUE said...

hi julie! I'm going to try find the ingredients here & try to make this pie as it sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

This recipe caused my mouth to water as I remembered MY grandmother's Butterscotch Pie!

I've placed a link on so that others from Wayne County, Indiana who have nostalgic memories of the Kopper Kettle can enjoy your reminisces and recipe as well.

Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Julie, i looked at the calendar and it appears to be August and the first is on a Sunday. I checked the calendar for 1950 and the first was on a Tuesday. The acutual year I found was 1948, which is circa, but i thought you might want to know the actual date. It is a great picture. I enjoy learning about Economy's past. Thanks. Jim Lewis