Do you recall the first thing you ever made, cooked, or baked in the kitchen as a child? Think back... was it chocolate chip cookies, pancakes or maybe waffles? Do you remember the bowl you mixed the dough in, the measuring cup you filled with milk? From baby boomers to millennials (and everyone in between) if you were a kid growing up in the US, chances are you've come in to contact with one or more form of American-made Pyrex. With its durable construction of heat-resistant opal glass in cheery colors and stylized patterns, its no wonder that Pyrex has stayed hot for over 100 years! At least NPR, USA Today, and Bon Appétit all seem to think so.
This August in my shop I'm excited to share a fabulously retro, "EARLY AMERICAN PYREX - 1962 Cinderella 3pc. Nesting Set of Classic Mixing Bowls" as this month's special Beccalani feature! I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Pyrex. If I close my eyes and think back to my Mom's kitchen in Upcountry, Maui I can see visions of her making a pie crust in a heavy mixing bowl with the "Autumn Harvest" pattern, or greasing the corners of a "Forest Fancies" casserole dish adorned with mushrooms and toadstools. Judy Collins sings Both Sides Now in the background and Mom pulls a "Spice of Life" patterned storage container out of the cupboard.
To truly understand the legacy of this American institution in housewares, we need to time travel further back than my Mama's Maui kitchen of the 1980s, but keeping going back to the turn of the century when the railroad industry was faced with a problem of broken lantern globes. When cold rain or snow would fall on hot lanterns their glass globes could shatter leading to signal outages and potential train wrecks or near misses. Corning Glass Works a manufacturer of battery jars and other utilitarian items created a solution in a low-thermal-expansion borosilicate glass called Nonex that wouldn't break under sudden changes in temperature.
Corning solved the railroad's problem, but they didn't stop there. One, Jesse T. Littleton, a physicist with a degree from the University of Wisconsin was tasked with finding other markets and applications for Nonex. Jesse and his wife Bessie were brainstorming ideas over dinner one evening, when Bessie said she'd had a ceramic casserole dish shatter in the oven, after only two uses. They wondered if Nonex might be a better material for Bessie's baking. Shortly thereafter Jesse came home with the sawed-off bottoms of two Nonex battery jars. Bessie tested the jars by baking up a sponge cake and found that it was evenly cooked, easy to remove from the glass container, and baked faster than her previous ceramic dishes. Corning loved the new application for their heat-resistant glass, so they worked to make it kitchen-safe by removing lead, and renamed it Pyrex. Women have always been at the forefront of development, testing, design, placement and procurement of Pyrex. Corning launched the first collection of Pyrex cookware in 1915, and sold 4 million pieces within the first four years!
Pyrex has been America's favorite dish ever since. I am not alone in my love and adoration of vintage Pyrex. In fact there are entire websites, collector's groups, pattern reference guides, books and even museum exhibits devoted entirely to this iconic cookware! If you don't yet own a piece of Pyrex, you might not be considered an adult in some circles. Now's a great chance to start or continue your own personal collection with this beautiful 3-piece set of Cinderella mixing bowls in the "Early American Pattern." Pyrex debuted this pattern around 1962 which features federal eagles, lamps, kettles, salt/pepper shakers, corn, antique coffee grinders, cats and weathervane roosters. Apparently, this was actually their first ever pattern to use 24K gold. This set is in good vintage condition. There are some slight scratches along the sides that serve as proof that this set has been loved and used dearly for over 50 years, and shows no signs that it won't be good to go for another 50!
Corning no longer manufactures or markets Pyrex-branded borosilicate glass kitchenware in the US. However, World Kitchen, LLC, which was spun off in 1998, licensed the pyrex (all lower case) brand for their own line of kitchenware products sold today at Targets and Walmarts. But the vintage stuff is still alive and well in homes and kitchens around the country. The legacy of Pyrex is sustained by bakers and enthusiasts like me that scour thrift stores and estate sales for authentic vintage goods!
There's nothing more wistfully nostalgic than baking up a fresh cherry pie, in a set of classic American-made cookware that's been passed down for generations! Even better if Don McLean sings American Pie while you bake! Do you have a fond memory or favorite recipe to cook in your Pyrex? Please share your story in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you.
SHOP THE POST
MY CHERRY PIE - Vintage Over and Back Inc. Ceramic
Pie Keep Dish and Cover Made in Portugal
Classic Fresh Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust
Makes one 9"pie. This pie is best made several hours before it is served because it needs time for the juices to thicken. This pie is very juicy!
Ingredients for the Double Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces or grated with a cheese grater!
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ice cold water, plus more if needed
Ingredients for the Cherry Filling
4 cups pitted fresh cherries
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Dash of almond extract
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for an egg wash)
Granulated sugar for topping
Directions for the Double Crust...
For the flakiest crust, make sure all of your ingredients are super cold. I recommend placing your bowl, butter, and flour and in the freezer about 20 minutes before you begin to help keep everything super cold.
In a large bowl stir together flour and salt.
Next remove the butter from the freezer or refrigerator where it was chilling and cut it up into small pieces. I even like using a cheese grater here because doing so gives you the best small pieces.
Using a pasty blender, cut in the butter till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs about the size of small peas.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the ice water over part of the mixture; toss with a fork. Push the moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using a tablespoon of water at a time till all the mixture is just moistened. Do not over work the dough.
Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a flattened disk and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you are able.
Directions for the Cherry Filling...
Remove the pits from all the cherries. A cherry pitter is a wonderful tool for just this purpose!
In a large mixing bowl gently stir together the pitted cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and almond extract.
Set aside while you roll out the pastry.
To roll the pastry and assemble the lattice...
(if you've never made a lattice top before, this video will give you the gist of it!)
Remove your chilled pastry discs from the fridge. On a well-floured surface, use a rolling pin and roll from the center out to the edges to form a 12-inch circle.
Transfer the pastry by rolling it around the pin; unroll onto a 9-inch pie plate. Ease the pastry into the plate and try not to stretch it out. Its ok if some of the pastry hangs over the edge you can clean that up after assembling the lattice.
Roll the second disc out in the same manner as above. Next cut into 3/4-inch long strips. Its quite easy to do this with help from a pizza wheel cutter and a ruler to guide you.
Spoon the cherry mixture into the raw pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with the 1 tablespoon butter.
Next assemble the lattice top by laying half of the pastry strips atop the filling at 1-inch intervals.
Fold alternate strips back halfway. Place another strip in the center of the pie across the strips already in place.
Unfold folded strips; fold back remaining strips. Place another strip parallel to the strip in the center. Repeat weaving steps until the lattice covers the filling.
Trim the dough to within a half inch of the edge of the dish. Fold the edges of the top and bottom crust underneath its self creating a thicker boarder that rests on the lip of the pie plate. Flute the edges to your preference, or leave plain.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Gently brush the egg wash onto the lattice top, and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue baking for another 40 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cherry filling is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.
Serve this delicious pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and get ready to say bye, bye to this American pie!