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Magic from the milk tin: Mom’s poppy seed pie

June 15, 2017

The smell of bread baking in the oven. The pop of a peach skin. The sweet lick of a summertime ice cream.

Food — it awakens our senses to memories, to moments, to the people who’ve mattered most in our lives.

For Alltech dairy specialist Tom Lorenzen of Wisconsin, a poppy seed pie evokes sweet remembrances of mom.

Tom began working for a registered milking short-horn dairy as a child. For 17 years, every other day he brought home fresh milk from the dairy to his mother in tin milking cans.

And that’s when mama would work her magic.

She skimmed the cream off the top of the milk to make whipped cream for a host of delights, including her popular poppy seed pie.

The pie, featuring butter and whole milk fresh from the dairy, was the highlight of family gatherings and holidays. Even when it wasn’t a special occasion, her grandchildren would ask her to make it, a request that Tom recalls them making just about every visit!

Today, Grandpa Tom serves slices to his grandchildren, sharing the story of a special mother whose love lives on through the treasured family recipe.


Grandma Lorenzen’s Poppy Seed Pie



2 packages of graham crackers (crushed into crumbs)

1/3 cup sugar

¾ cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla


Mix all the ingredients together and pat into a 9” x 13” pan.

Bake for 10 minutes at 275º F. Cool.




1 cup sugar

3 tablespoon cornstarch

4 egg yolks

1/8 cup poppy seeds

3 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla


Mix the first four ingredients together.


Gradually add 3 cups whole milk over medium heat.

Continue stirring constantly until thickened. Add the butter and vanilla. Cool, stirring occasionally.

Once cooled, pour the custard over the crust, and you're done! If not serving right away, refrigerate. 




8–16 ounces whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Mix ingredients together in a chilled bowl. Beat at high speed until thick.

Cover the entire pan with whipped cream, or add a dollop of whipped cream to each slice of dessert.