How to bake Flapper Pie

Flapper Pie is an oft-forgotten Prairie classic. Whenever I go home to Saskatchewan to visit my family, I have to have a piece of this pie. A simple vanilla custard pie with a graham crust and meringue topping, Flapper Pie got its name from the flapper ladies of the era when it was most popular; during the 1920s and 30s. Most small town cafes back then served different types of custard pies, such as: banana cream, coconut cream, chocolate and Flapper Pie. This particular pie is the easiest to bake because all it takes is a few simple ingredients. Important tips: be sure to use eggs that have come to room temperature and don’t do like I did and skip the last step of chilling the pie to set the custard! It will be too mushy and difficult to slice, but will still taste delicious. 

This is the best Flapper Pie recipe I’ve found, written by Renee Kohlman for the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. I like that she puts a bit of booze in her custard (purely optional, but I tried it with bourbon). It’s a nice nod to the end of prohibition which lasted from 1916-1924 in Saskatchewan. If ever you get the chance to visit Saskatchewan, you can stop at Sisters’ Bistro in my hometown where they still serve this famous pie. 



2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

3 Tbsp sugar

Pinch of cinnamon 


1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

5 large egg yolks, at room temperature

21/2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup whipping cream

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 Tbsp rye whiskey, bourbon, brandy or rum

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract


1 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 tsp cream of tartar

5 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt



  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the rack in the centre of the oven.
  2. To make the crust, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate, reserving 1 Tbsp of crumbs for garnishing the pie. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
  3. While the crust is baking, make the meringue. Whisk the cornstarch with 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. When it’s thick and translucent, remove the pan from the heat. Mix the sugar and cream of tartar in a small bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, vanilla and salt on medium speed until the whites are frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually beat in the sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time until soft peaks form. With the mixer still running at medium-high speed, add the cornstarch slurry one tablespoon at a time until stiff, shiny peaks form. Set aside at room temperature while you make your filling.
  4. To make the vanilla custard, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium saucepan. The pan is still off the heat at this point. Whisk in the yolks, then gradually whisk in the milk and cream. You may need to use a plastic spatula to scrape the edges of the pan so that everything gets fully whisked. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook for eight to 10 minutes, whisking constantly, until it’s thick. Be sure the custard simmers for at least two minutes — this will cook the cornstarch out. If cornstarch isn’t cooked long enough in a custard, the custard will have a starchy taste. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, whiskey and vanilla. Pour the hot filling into the cooled crust.
  5. Immediately spread the meringue on top of the filling, being sure to push it right up against the edge of the crust so it is attached and won’t shrink away while it bakes. Use the back of a soup spoon to create lovely peaks and swoops. Sprinkle the reserved tablespoon of graham crumbs on top. Bake the pie until the meringue is golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack until it’s at room temperature. Refrigerate, uncovered, for four hours before serving. This will set the custard. Slice and serve.
  6. Flapper Pie is best eaten the day it’s made, but if there are leftovers, cover the pie with plastic and store it in the refrigerator for up to one day.

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