A Vintage Recipe: Princess Mary’s Strawberry Chiffon Pie

So many dog-eared recipes occupying space in our recipe boxes have long forgotten stories. I’m so thankful this recipe’s story came to light and will have new life on my table. Victoria BC’s Princess Mary Strawberry Chiffon Pie is vintage for sure but delicious enough to deserve some new attention.

I won’t tell you the year I was born. But this Strawberry Chiffon Pie has a connection with that day… at least in my history. And let’s just say it was a few more years ago than I wish.

On the day I was born, in the middle of an unusual Seattle heat wave, my mother, with a burst of energy, made this Strawberry Chiffon Pie, as well as a large steamed salmon. And yes, this was before anyone had air conditioning. My poor mother. Later that day, she went to the hospital, and I made my appearance. She says my dad ate very well that week.

Bringing the dog-eared recipe card to life begins with this story.

The Princess Mary was a passenger ship, built in 1910 Scotland, and made her first trip on the Nanaimo-Comox–Vancouver service by 1911. Later, she carried soldiers during World War I before being taken out of service in 1952. By 1954, the hull of the ship was lost at sea but the remaining pieces were dry-docked in Victoria’s Harbor and converted into a restaurant.

Victoria is an easy trip from Seattle across the Puget Sound. Many of my parents’ friends would jump back and forth between Victoria and Seattle, often dining in the popular Princess Mary dining room.

As of 2011, the storied Princess Mary, sadly, is no more. “The restaurant has been a Victoria landmark for generations, a place of fine seafood dining where families gathered to mark their birthdays and anniversaries. Romances were sparked on the dance floor, proposals made at the tables, marriages celebrated in the banquet hall.”

This recipe was passed around among my mother’s friends in the day as it was a favorite dessert when dining at the popular restaurant. And, of course, I have a particular fondness for it on my birthday or frankly… any day. It was delicious then… and it’s amazingly delicious now. So thankful for the story behind the recipe card now worn around the edges.

Intrigued, I’m determined to unearth more stories from these precious old recipe cards. What stories are behind your vintage recipes? They all seem to have one… or two.

The original recipe contained whipped raw egg whites. I’m not into raw egg whites so I’ve updated and replaced the egg whites with meringue powder.

Victoria’s Princess Mary Strawberry Chiffon Pie


For the Crust:

18 graham crackers (2 cups crushed)
cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup sugar


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Crush graham crackers in a food processor.

Cream butter in a mixer and blend in crushed graham crackers and 1/4 cup of sugar.

Place crumb mixture into 9-inch pie plate and press crumbs around sides and bottom to form a crust. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool.

For the Filling:

1 pint fresh strawberries, crushed (1  1/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup very hot water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
4 teaspoons meringue powder
4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar

Garnish: Whipping cream, sliced strawberries


Crush strawberries in a medium size bowl to make about 1  1/4 cups. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over the strawberries and allow to stand or macerate for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, soften gelatin in cold water and dissolve in hot water. Let cool. Add lemon juice and a dash of salt to the strawberries. When the gelatin has cooled, add it also to the strawberries and lemon mixture.

Chill the strawberries until mixture mounds when spooned, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the gelled strawberry filling.

In a stand mixer or with portable beaters, beat the meringue powder, water, and 2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into the strawberry mixture and pour into prepared crust. Chill until firm.

Top with additional whipping cream and sliced strawberries.

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Stephanie Wilson is an author, blogger, publisher, and former television news writer and producer. She lives in the Puget Sound area with her husband and teenage son.