The New Year’s Day meal is my husband’s favorite meal of the year, but more about that tomorrow. Today, I’m making the end of that meal—custard pie. It’s a creamy, cool finish to that heavy pork and sauerkraut main dish, and despite my husband’s infatuation with chocolate, I think he loves this pie more than all others.
This pie will never weep, if you follow the baking directions. It only takes 25 minutes to bake, but you must trust me that it will set completely without being baked into scrambled eggs.
Let’s start with the crust. Today, I decided to make the generic crust made with hydrogenated vegetable shortening, the only crust I made for many years. I have lard and butter on hand, but decided to just go old-school. It’s pretty much a no-fail dough, if you gauge the right amount of water, so it’s not dry and crumbly.
Pie Crust with Crisco®
Just halve ingredients for one pie.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup water
- Stir flour and salt to distribute
- Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender. I find the shortening cuts in better with a fork, unlike cold butter.
- Add the water all at once and stir in with a fork until the dough comes together. If the dough seems too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it is moist enough to hold together and feel pliable. I probably could have used one more tablespoon of water today, because one of my crusts tore before I got it in the pie dish, but it easily went back together with a little push. If you want to see prettier crusts, see my pumpkin pie post from last month. They were made with butter, but they baked too dark. Today’s came out better, if not as pretty.
- Roll dough about 1-2 inches larger than top rim of pan on a floured surface. My preference for rolling is a wooden pin with a knit rolling pin sock. With flour rubbed in to the sock, it never sticks to the dough.
- Roll the dough onto the pin, brushing off excess flour on the back. Unroll into pan and use your favorite crimping method. My pattern follows the curve on the top of my thumb from the nail to the knuckle.
Follow baking instructions with your pie recipe.
Preheat oven to 450°
This recipe is for one pie. It fills a 9″ dish well. Double for the two crusts, above. I mixed the filling separately for each pie, and baked them separately, because my oven has hot spots on the sides and that affects proper baking.
4 eggs, whisked
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 2/3 cups half and half, heated in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes (do not boil)
- Whisk the eggs. I admit that I whisk the heck out of them, because I don’t want to see those little white protein strings in the mixture.
- Whisk in the sugar, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla.
- Whisk in the scalded half and half.
- Pour into prepared pie crust. I cover my edges with foil before pouring in filling.
Preheat oven to 450°
Bake pie for 15 minutes, then turn heat to 350° and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Mine are always done after a total of 25 minutes.
Test for doneness by inserting a sharp knife point into the filling just 1″ from the edge—you can see the spot where I checked my pie in the photo. It should come out clean using these baking times.
Never wait for the center of the pie to be done in the oven or both you and your pies will weep.
Take the pie out when the edge of the filling is done and set to cool. The pie will be perfectly set before it’s completely cool. Don’t worry that it seems very jiggly in the center—it is mostly eggs, which can cook on a hot sidewalk, after all. Trust me.