If you have ever been intimated by the idea of making a custard pie, here is a foolproof and easy template for making the best one ever. As long as you keep the ratios consistent, you can vary this recipe to make anything from a plain pie to a tea pie (Chamomile Tea Custard Pie), to a fruit pie (Persimmon Custard Pie, Pumpkin Custard Pie), to a custard pie made with purchased ice cream or frozen yogurt (Banana Mascarpone Custard Pie made with Eb & Bean Frozen Yogurt) to whatever strikes your fancy (Black Sesame Custard Pie). The recipe works with nut and other plant-based milks (Filipino Buko Pie made with young coconut) and can be used to make deep dish pies as well as the standard 9″ pie. Here are a few examples of variations on such pies I’ve made in the past year:
Cherry Custard Pie
Coffee Custard Pie with Chocolate Espresso Sauce
Fresh Roasted Pumpkin Custard Pie
Persimmon Custard Pie
Why Make a Custard Pie?
Custard Pies are some of the earliest known baked pies in dessert history, the Romans being the first to discover the binding properties of eggs in baking. Deliciously rich due to the inclusion of whole eggs and use of whole milk or cream, a plain custard pie is a wonderful canvas to showcase seasonal fruit either by adding it fresh and raw to the top of the pie, or adding some sautéed or roasted fruit that has been drained of its liquid to the pie during baking. Custard pies are very popular in the midwest an have a simple, humble appeal, as they are easy to make and the consistency of the filling is velvety, sweet and comforting. Once you master the basic method with proper ratio of base to egg, you can make up any custard pie to your heart’s creative delight. This is a boon for the recipe averse, as you can use what you have on hand or what inspires you based on what’s in season or looks fun and tasty.
How to Prevent a Custard from Breaking
One of the things to be careful of when making a custard pie is ensuring that it does not break while you are incorporating the eggs into the liquid base. Adding the scalded liquid to the egg mixture very slowly, one tablespoon at a time, and waiting for a minute or so between additions, BEFORE you add the egg mixture back into your OFF-HEAT pan of scalded liquid, will ensure that your custard does not break. A broken custard pie will not taste bad but the texture and consistency of the filling will be grainy with bits of “scrambled” eggs and that can detract from the taste.
What if my Custard Breaks?
If you find that after adding your egg mixture back into your pan of scalded liquid, you have bits and pieces of egg in your custard, then your custard is broken. A common strategy in such a scenario is to pour the mixture, once it is cooled, into a blender or food processor, and blend on high speed until the bits are incorporated back into the liquid and the consistency is smooth with no lumps. In this case you will want to strain the mixture through a sieve or a fine mesh strainer after blending to catch any remaining bits, and pour the strained mixture into your pie shell.
How Long Should I Bake and at What Temperature?
A classic custard pie in a 9″ shell should bake for 40 – 50 minutes. Start baking at 400F for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes, checking periodically to make sure that the top is not burning and that the custard is properly set. The more eggs and liquid you use, the longer you should bake your pie and the more closely you should monitor it. You can do this by gently tugging at the pie towards the end of the baking time to see if there is any remaining runny-type liquid jiggle, or you can insert a knife into the center (you want the knife to pull away without any wet dredge attached to it).
Do I Have to Blind Bake my Pie Crust?
My answer is no. I do not like hassling with blind baking pie crusts. The way to get around a soggy crust without blind baking is to add a mixture of flour and sugar (about 2 Tbsp) to the bottom of the crust and popping the crust into the freezer for a good long time before baking the pie. I’ve sometimes left my crust in the freezer for several hours. Freezing the crust will also ensure that your crimp or decorative elements to your crust don’t melt away onto the bottom of the oven floor or just disintegrate in shape.
I hope you find this template useful. Be sure to say hello on social media and tag me if you make a custard pie! Now, let’s get baking!Print
An easy template for making infinite variations of Custard Pie
- 3 cups liquid base – can be milk, melted ice cream or frozen yogurt, tea steeped in milk, pureed fruit and milk, etc.
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 tsp fresh vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Scald your liquid base and remove from heat
- Beat eggs together
- Slowly add scalded liquid to egg mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until well incorporated. Add about 1 tablespoon per minute or so until you’ve added a total of 5-6 tablespoons.
- Allow liquid base to cool for another 5 minutes, off heat. Add vanilla bean paste and nutmeg.
- Pour egg and liquid base mixture into the heated base and whisk for 3 minutes.
- Allow egg and base mixture to fully cool.
- Pour mixture into pie shell and bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then decrease heat to 375 and cook another 40 minutes. Be sure to check on custard to prevent burning. You may need to cover the pie with foil but do not remove from oven until the custard appears well set and is not jiggling loosely.
You can vary this recipe using 2 cups liquid to 2 eggs (monitor cooking time, as you may need to cook 5 – 10 minutes less) or up to 4 – 5 eggs and 4 – 5 cups liquid if you have a very deep pie dish (again, monitor and adjust cooking time to achieve proper “set” to custard).
If you are going to use milk or steeped tea or an unsweetened base, use 1 cup sugar in your base. Often I will use 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup condensed or evaporated milk and decrease the amount of liquid base by 1/2 cup. If you are going to use ice cream or frozen yogurt or a combination of pureed fruit and milk or a cheese such as ricotta or mascarpone, add sugar only if you need to. You can determine this by tasting the base before you heat it.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Pie, custard pie, easy pie, easy custard pie, pie recipe, custard pie recipe