Still more Toddle House memories

The Toddle House must have baked some mighty fine pies. At least that’s the conclusion I’ve come to after hearing readers’ reminiscences about the nationwide 24-hour restaurant chain that got its start in Texas in the late 1920s and operated until 1962.

They all recall going to the tiny diners — which all had a row of 10 stools at a stainless-steel counter, no tables — to dig into a slice of chocolate or banana cream pie. Some wanted the recipes; others offered recipes which they believe are close to the originals.

After reading about Larry Clanton’s request for a recipe for the Toddle House banana cream pie, Betty Matherne LaBauve, of Plaquemine, called with one she developed for her father-in-law, Gordon LaBauve, who, along with his two sons, operated Gordon’s Grocery on Railroad Avenue in Plaquemine from 1951 to 1966.

“He loved the Toddle House,” she said. “Wherever we went, we ended up at the Toddle House. When they closed the Toddle House, he asked me to try to figure out how to make that banana cream pie. I worked on it a number of times until I finally got it right.”

She had noticed t he Toddle House’s banana cream pie “didn’t have that yellow cream-colored look” that a pie made with cream would have. “It was more like a clear custard.” So, her version’s filling is made with water, no milk or cream.

Aline Blackwell, who also has fond memories of the Toddle House pie era, offered a recipe she believes is about 100 years old.

“When I read that Larry Clanton was inquiring about their banana pie recipe, I remembered a banana cream pie recipe that I obtained many years ago from a cookbook that I participated in publishing from a rural community near Bogulusa that I lived in in my early years,” she wrote. The ladies in that community (Ben’s Ford) seemed to be the best cooks in the world, especially when the church ‘dinners-on-the- ground’ were held,” she wrote. “When the book came out, I was so happy because now I could try those marvelous cakes and pies that I remembered so well, such as Miss Laura’s banana cream pie. I don’t think this recipe can be topped.”

My Jan. 23 column included a recipe for what Rhetta Sellers called a “dead ringer” for the Toddle House chocolate pie. But, last week James Gordon, on behalf of his grandmother Joyce Gordon, sent in a July 2, 1998, clipping from The Advocate with a chocolate pie recipe originally submitted by Amy Breaud. Her family always thought it was the original Toddle House recipe, she wrote. Her family’s recipe is much different than the one contributed by Sellers. You decide which is closer to the original.

St. Joseph’s Day

St. Joseph’s Day is March 19 and that means many local churches, organizations and individuals will be hosting St. Joseph’s Altars.

We would like to publish a story listing the altars open to the public.

If you want information on your altar included, please email csonnier@the or

Note: Corinne Cook’s columns, Gourmet Galley and Eat Your Vegetables, are not available this week, but they will return next week.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is

Toddle House Banana Cream Pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie. Recipe is by Betty Matherne LaBauve, of Plaquemine.

1 cup sugar

11/2 cups water, divided

1/2 tsp. salt

4 tbls. butter

1⁄3 cup cornstarch

4 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 tsp. banana extract

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 bananas, sliced

1 (9-inch) pie crust, baked

Whipping cream, whipped, or Cool Whip, for garnish

1. Combine sugar, 1 cup water, salt and butter in a saucepan. Heat on stove top on medium heat for about 8 minutes or until sugar dissolves.

2. Blend the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup water. Add to the sauce pan, stirring until smooth and clear.

3. While stirring, quickly add in the egg yolks, beating well. When mixture has thickened and is smooth, remove from heat and add the extracts. Cool to room temperature.

4. Put banana slices in the baked pie shell and add filling. Top with whipped cream or Cool Whip. Refrigerate until served.

Banana Cream Pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie. Recipe by Laura Riley is from “The Ben’s Ford Cookbook.”

1 (9-inch) pie shell

2⁄3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

21/2 tbls. cornstarch

1 tbl. flour

3 cups milk

3 eggs

1 tbl. butter

11/2 tsps. vanilla

Bananas, sliced

Whipping cream or whipped topping

1. Bake pie shell according to directions. Set aside.

2. Put dry ingredients into sauce pan and mix together. Add milk, stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens. Boil 1 minute and remove from heat.

3. Slowly stir at least 1 cup of the mixture into the 3 beaten eggs. Continue to add the rest of the mixture and place on heat again, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add butter and vanilla. Remove from heat and cool.

4. Fill the bottom of the pie crust with about a 1-inch-thick layer of sliced bananas. Pour filling over the bananas.

5. Cover top of pie with a generous level of whipped cream or the whipped topping.

Toddle House Chocolate Pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie. Recipe is from Amy Breaud.

Pie Crust:

11⁄3 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1⁄3 cup Crisco vegetable oil

3 tbls. milk

1. Mix together and roll between two pieces waxed paper.

2. Put in 9-inch pie dish, prick with fork and bake at 450 F until brown.

11/2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

3 tbls. flour

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

11/2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 cup whipping cream

1 tbl. powdered sugar

Chocolate shavings

1. Scald 1 cup milk over boiling water. Mix sugar, salt, flour and remaining milk together. Stir into hot milk and cook slowly until thickened, stirring constantly. Cover and cook over boiling water for 5 minutes.

2. Add mixture slowly to egg yolk and cook one minute longer.

3. Add butter and vanilla and then add melted chocolate.

4. Cool and then put into baked pie shell.

5. Beat 1 cup whipping cream with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Cover pie with cream and decorate with chocolate shavings.