Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: George O’Brien’s Cream Pie

Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and you are invited to tag along. (I have listed all the recipes I have tested on this dedicated page. Check back often.) Today, we will be testing a recipe from one of the most popular western stars of the silent and talkie eras.

George O’Brien would just be remembered today as one of the top western stars of the 1920s and 1930s if it weren’t for F.W. Murnau. Now being one of the top anything stars is nothing to sneeze at but O’Brien’s work in Murnau’s Sunrise proved that the kid could act.

O’Brien had originally made a name for himself working with John Ford, most famously as the hero of The Iron Horse. His popularity easily transferred to sound (the thirties were mad for westerns) and his career consisted of 90% oaters.

The promise of Sunrise was never really capitalized on but a respectable career all the way around.


But can George O’Brien bake a delicious cream pie? That’s what we’re going to find out.


I have a confession to make: I purchased the crust for this one. (Kindly imagine me speaking in Tuco Ramirez’ voice at this point.) There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend. Those who make crusts with butter and those who make crusts with shortening. George O’Brien is a shortening man. I am a butter woman. This battle is contentious and it is nasty and neither side is ever going to back down. They like “tender” while we’re all about flavor.

(There are the confused souls who mix the two ingredients and the YOLO lard crust fans but these are fringe factions.)

The point is, there was no way in heck I was going to willingly make a shortening crust and so I bought one from the freezer section of the supermarket. And I’m not sorry.

The poor lil' maligned frozen crust.
The poor lil’ maligned frozen crust.

And so, as the crust was to be pre-baked, I pulled out my trusty pie weights to keep things from getting bubbly.

Pie weights on the raw crust...
Pie weights on the raw crust…
Ta da!
Ta da!
Oooo! Craggy!
Oooo! Craggy!
I am easily amused.
I am easily amused.

Aren’t they great? I get all giddy whenever I use my pie weights. I can’t help it. They’re cool.

The custard...
The custard…

The custard filling went together easily but it is one of those things you have to watch like a hawk. It will curdle in an instant so you need to stir, stir, stir. I poured the stuff into the crust and chilled it all afternoon. Finally, I topped it with whipped cream.


Pretty nice looking, eh? Unfortunately, the slices were not terribly pretty and whole thing felt a bit loose. The weather has been unseasonably humid in these parts so that may be the reason.

Uh oh...
Uh oh…
Not winning any beauty contests
Not winning any beauty contests

Taste Test Video:

My Score: 2 out of 5. The custard had a nice flavor but it was just too light and foamy to be combined with the pie crust and comparatively heavy whipped cream. It really should have been served by itself with a few strawberries or something.

The main sin of this pie is that (to modern taste buds, at least) it’s just plain boring. It’s very, very sweet but that’s about it. The custard had a pleasant scalded milk taste but it became dull after a few mouthfuls. If this pie had included coconut or banana and had used a sturdier custard, this would have been a success. As it is, it’s just plain dull.


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