Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday is PIE DAY!

Custard pie is one of those wonderfully simple, old fashioned pleasures.  Unfortunately, it often gets overlooked in favor of more showy desserts.  Many people seem to have never heard of it, mistaking it for quiche or some other kind of savory egg dish, startled, when they take a bite, to find it sweet.  Everyone in my family loves this pie (my niece requested them for her graduation party this spring), and it is one of the simplest to make, so I try to bake them fairly often. 

Even though this pie contains only 6 basic ingredients, there are quite a few variations when it comes to baking a custard pie.  The biggest debate seems to be whether to bake the custard in the crust or bake them separately, then slide the custard into the baked crust, creating what is known as a "slip-side" custard pie.  As this classic rhyme states,
"Bake the custard alone-
The crust by itself,
And your custard pies
Won't stay on the shelf."

I have tried this method a couple of times, and although you can certainly impress your guests by expertly slipping the custard into it's crust right it front of their eyes, I have really found it to be unnecessary and potentially messy.  Two things can keep a custard crust from becoming soggy.  First, although most custard pie recipes call for scalded milk, I always use cold milk.  Secondly, I bake the pie in a very hot oven for 15 minutes to set the custard, then finish the baking time at a lower temperature.  The combination of these two methods always results in a lovely custard with no soggy crust.

Christine's Custard Pie
4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 c milk ( I use 2%, but you can use whole, or part heavy cream for an extra rich pie)
1/2 t nutmeg

-beat eggs slightly in large bowl
-add sugar, salt, vanilla and milk
-beat lightly until well blended
-pour into unbaked 9" pie shell
-top with 1/2 t (or more if you love nutmeg like I do) freshly grated nutmeg
-bake at 450 for 15 minutes
-reduce heat to 350 and bake additional 25 minutes

Bake until a knife inserted comes out clean.  The filling may still have a bit of a wiggle to it, but it will set later.  Overbaking your custard will result in a weepy pie and possibly a weepy baker.

Custard pie may be served slightly warm or cold.  My preference is to eat it cold as the flavor seems more pronounced, but a warm slice for breakfast on a wintry day could be just the ticket. 


  1. yuzzum! this looks *so* good.
    I know its not Friday, but I made pie dough and baked pumpkin today for assembly later this week.
    Hey, any ideas on how to make my Lumina pumpkin pulp have a more pumpkiny color when I bake it? It is a sweet and firm variety, but an unfortunate yellow green color... (outside is gorgeous pale green with pale orange spots).

  2. I saw your custard pie post & was just as much astonished by the deliciousness look (and taste) of it!!!

    -and about your trouble w/ squirrels: my friend Betsy is now on a rage against them b/c one time one came up, stole her banana, and ran off w/ the whole thing. dreadful

    <3 -Hannah