Recipes from the Masters: Testing Out Vintage Recipes

Banana Cream Pie recipe from Lancaster Farming’s December 9, 1955 issue.

The holiday rush is upon us and that means one thing, a huge uptake in baking and cooking for the ones we love. While I tend to spend a lot the year eyeing new recipes I tend to not actually test them out until the holidays. (Personally, I’m notorious for baking at two in the morning before major events out of sheer excitement.) One problem I often find with recipes are that they often expensive, complicated, and require a lot of appliances that my tiny grad apartment doesn’t have.

This year, however, I stumbled across a treasure trove of recipes that seem to be easily doable even with my limited resources. These recipes are in newspapers from the Farm, Field, and Fireside collection which houses old farm newspapers. Farm women from across the Midwest would send in recipes to be published each week. Others would write in to add their thoughts after trying the recipes out themselves. So, with the blessing of my library colleagues, I’m embarking on an experiment. Periodically I will test out these recipes and write blog posts reviewing them.

My very first occurred last Thanksgiving. My contribution to our festivities were two pies: one of which was a banana cream pie from the December 9, 1955 issue of Lancaster Farming, page 8. The recipe simply calls for a cooked pie crust so I decided to make a graham cracker crust which worked well with this recipe.

Banana Cream Pie sitting on a stove
My first attempt. I promise the other one turned out prettier, but it was eaten so quickly I didn’t get a chance to instagram it.

The cooking process itself was very quick and straightforward. Full disclosure: most of my family isn’t found of meringue so I skipped that step in its entirety. I initially toyed with adding whipped cream as a topper but the pie worked perfectly by itself. In my opinion it event tasted better without the whipped cream simply because the pie was already very sweet.

My family loved it so much that I actually ended up making a second one. The first pie went by so quickly that several people didn’t get to try it. Those that did were more than happy to grab a second piece. Given the overall simplicity of the recipe it took no time whatsoever to throw together a second one on the fly. This one will definitely be added to my regular baking rotation.

At a glance:
Difficulty level: Beginner
Cost: Low (I only had to buy ingredients to make the crust, I had everything for the filling on hand.)
Time: Quick (I will try to time these from now on for a better idea.)


Three-quarters cup of sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
One fourth teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vegetable fat or butter
Sliced banana to cover bottom of baked crust

2 egg whites
4 tablespoon sugar

Combine sugar, flour, corn starch and salt, blending well. Add slightly beaten egg yolks and scalded milk. Cook over low flame or in a double boiler until thick. Add vanilla and fat after removing from fire. Slice bananas over bottom of baked crust. Pour over cream filling. Cover top lightly with meringue made by beating egg whites until stiff and powdered sugar. Replace in moderate oven until meringue is browned.

Have any questions or comments? Did you try the recipe out yourself and want to share your thoughts? Found another recipe you’d like us to test? You can respond to this post on our twitter or shoot us an email.

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