It’s never too early to plan dessert like this Buko Pie for Thanksgiving, or the holidays. The word ‘buko’ is Tagalog for coconut. If you bake this scrumptious treat, you’ll be adding a distinct Filipino coconut pie to the array of sweets on this great American holiday.
When we lived in the Philippines during my childhood, I remember our family trips to the Southern Luzon provinces like Laguna or Tagaytay City in Cavite. It was not complete without stopping by the road stands to buy Buko Pie. My Mom was fascinated with those roadside stalls, and if she had her way, we would have stopped to buy something every five minutes of the drive.
The freshly-made buko pies of those stands tasted of homespun goodness, the pearl-like coconut strips, soft and velvety, underneath the flaky crust. I still remember the sweet smell of coconut, and the warmth of the bottom of the Buko Pie’s cardboard box, as it rested on my palm, when I held the pie box. I couldn’t wait to get to our destination then, so that we could slice this heavenly pastry.
I tried to recreate the Buko Pie of my childhood here in my American kitchen. I didn’t let the absence of coconut trees from my backyard discourage me from baking a Buko Pie. Instead, I used what was available: bottled macapuno (coconut sport) strings, and canned coconut milk. I put effort into the pastry crust though. When the pie came out of the oven, the crust on top was golden brown, and the sweet coconut aroma hypnotized us. This Buko Pie was definitely going to be on top of my list of desserts to make for the holidays.
- Pie plate: 9-inches in diameter
- Food processor
- Rolling pin
For the double pie crust
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled
- ½ cup Crisco shortening, chilled
- 4 to 6 Tablespoons iced water
For the pie filling:
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 2 cups bottled macapuno strings (coconut sport)
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
For pie crust top:
- 1 whole egg, for egg wash
- ¼ cup water, at room temperature, for egg wash
To make the double pie crust:
- Whisk together in a large bowl: Flour, salt, and baking powder.Add the chilled butter and Crisco. Cut with a pastry blender or else pulse in a food processor. The texture should look like little peas.Pour the iced water a tablespoon at a time.Process the pastry dough in the food processor until it is smooth. Divide the dough into 2 disks and wrap all over with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks overnight.
- The next day, when getting ready to bake, preheat the oven at 350 F. Roll out one pastry to fit the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the bottom crust with a fork in several places. Line the pie shell with parchment paper, enough to cover it. Place pie weights or dried beans on the parchment paper. This prevents the pastry from puffing up while baking.Bake the bottom pie crust at a preheated oven of 350 F, for 15 minutes. When done, take the pie plate out of the oven. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
To make the pie filling:
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and coconut milk till smooth and there are no more lumps. Set aside.In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, pour the heavy cream. Gradually add the coconut milk-cornstarch mixture. Combine well and keep stirring till the liquid thickens. Lower heat so the mixture doesn't burn or get clumpy.Add the bottled macapuno strings, including the macapuno liquid with it. Incorporate well into the heavy cream mixture.Continue cooking this mixture for 2 minutes more. Then remove from stovetop.Pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie shell.
To add the top pie crust:
- Roll out the second pastry disk on a floured surface on the counter. You can either place the entire pastry crust on the pie filling, or you can make a decorative lattice pie crust top.To make a lattice pie top: Slice the pastry dough with a sharp knife, into 2-inch wide strips. Layer the strips alternately, on top of the filling, in horizontal and vertical positions, like a basket weave. Brush the sides of the pastry in the pie plate with water, for sealing the crust.Seal the pie edges by pressing a fork on the pastry.To make the egg wash: Combine the egg and water for the egg wash in a small bowl. Mix and brush the entire pie top with egg wash.
- Place the pie on top of a shallow baking tray to avoid drippings inside the oven.Bake the pie in a preheated oven of 350 F degrees for 40 minutes. Check the pie for even browning on the pie crust on top. Turn the pie around, inside the oven, for even baking. Continue baking for 10 minutes more.When done, take the pie out of the oven. Cool on counter, then slice to serve.This pie needs to be stored in the refrigerator. This keeps for 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator, and up to a month in the freezer.
- In his original recipe, Chef Romy Dorotan used fresh coconut meat for the pie filling. I substituted with bottled macapuno strings, and canned coconut milk, since I don't have access to fresh coconuts.Macapuno is known as coconut sport. They are mutant coconut fruit, containing jelly-like nuts filling most of the space inside the coconut shell. Macapuno is the processed version. The bottled macapuno is either found in the form of strings or balls, preserved in heavy syrup. The macapuno syrup was sweet enough, and this is why I did not need to add sugar to the filling.Bottled macapuno are sold in Asian markets here in the USA, or in online sources. When opened, keep refrigerated.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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