"A whoopie pie is not a cookie or a typical cake, and it's definitely not a pie!" says author of Whoopie Pie Fun, Claire Ptak, of Violets baking company in London. She goes on to explain nobody knows why it is called a pie, and its origins are unclear. The story is that Amish farmer’s wives made them as lunchbox treats for their husbands’ lunchboxes using leftover cake batter. Putting the frosting inside made them easier to transport than regular cupcakes. Children and farmers are said to have responded to finding these treats in their lunches with a resounding “Whoopie!”
So I made up a batch of the ‘original’ chocolate whoopie recipe – the first one in the book. They are supposed to be filled with marshmallow frosting - in the States, people often use Marshmallow Fluff which comes in jars, but Claire gives her own easy recipe. Her recipe needs 3 egg whites, and so I opted for the more economical “Old-fashioned buttercream” which appears later on the book.
FOR 9 LARGE OR 24 MINI WHOOPIE PIES
- 175g plain flour
- 100g cocoa powder
- 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 125g butter, softened
- 200g sugar
- 1 large egg
- 225ml buttermilk [I used 50/50 milk & natural yogurt]
- 1tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180°C/gas 4. Line 2 trays with baking parchment. Sift dry ingredients, set aside.
In separate bowl cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Add buttermilk and vanilla and beat well till combined. Slowly add dry ingredients ion two batches, mixing till just incorporated. Chill 30 minutes.
Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops about 5cm apart onto baking trays. Bake in centre of oven for 10-12 minutes [large] or 8-10 minutes [small] until cakes left with sight impression when touched with a finger.
Remove to a wire rack and cool completely. Sandwich together with marshmallow filling, or similar. Here’s the result!
OLD FASHIONED BUTTERCREAM
- 115ml whole milk
- 2tbsp plain flour
- 100g caster sugar
- ¼tsp salt
- 55g margarine
- 55g shortening [such as Trex]
- 1tsp vanilla extract
Whisk milk and flour in a small saucepan, placing over moderate heat till mixture just begins to thicken. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl beat together sugar, salt and fats until light and fluffy using electric mixer. Add vanilla, beat well. Add flour mixture and beat for 3 minutes.
Chill until ready to use. It will keep in a sealed container in fridge for 5 days – bring to room temperature and beat again before using.
- The pies needed the full 10 minutes even in my efficient fan oven
- They do spread when baking, leave the full space as suggested [next time I shall use 3 trays not 2]
- I used my 1” ice cream scoop for even portions [ended up with 26 pies, plus 3 mis-shapen ones which we used for taste-testing!]
- It was a good opportunity to use the lovely Tala Offset Spatula that Steph gave me for Christmas!
- Let the milk and flour mixture for the filling cool thoroughly. I didn’t and it split! Still tasted fine though – and it wasn’t noticeable once I used it to sandwich the pies.
- I have divided up my pies and frozen them in small lock’n’lock. This should make them last longer and stop us pigging out.
- I just love my cocoa tin- it was from a Belgian supermarket [family holiday in August 2000] but I keep refilling it, as I think it is so attractive!
- If this is a traditional Amish recipe, why didn’t Kelly McGillis make any for Harrison Ford at the barn-raising in ‘Witness’?