- Hands-on time:
- 15 mins. to 25 mins.
- Baking time:
- 45 mins. to 55 mins.
- Total time:
- 60 mins. to 1 hrs 20 mins.
- 9" pie, 8 to 12 servings.
Plain old custard pie? Well, this recipe may be old (as in classic, treasured, revered), but it's hardly "plain" — unless your definition of plain is a rich/tender filling of cream, eggs, and vanilla, with a hint of nutmeg, nestled in a buttery crust. It's just plain good!
- 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, optional; for added flakiness
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening*
- 1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
- 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
- *Can you substitute butter for shortening? Yes; your crust will be slightly less flaky.
- 1 1/2 cups milk (anything from skim to whole, your choice)
- 1 cup cream (heavy, whipping, light, or half & half, your choice)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- 1) To make the crust: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
- 2) Add the shortening, mixing until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Add the butter, working it in until it's unevenly crumbly, with some larger chunks of butter remaining.
- 3) Sprinkle the vinegar and 3 tablespoons of the ice water over the dough while tossing with a fork. Add more water if the dough isn't coming together. Just as soon as the dough becomes cohesive (i.e., you can squeeze it into a ball easily), stop mixing; there should still be visible pieces of fat in the dough.
- 4) Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water, making the dough easier to roll out.
- 5) Roll the chilled crust into a 13" circle, and lay it in a lightly greased 9" pie pan. Make an upright (rather than flat) crimp around the edge, as pictured above; this will help keep the filling from sloshing out as you move the pie from counter to oven. Set the crust aside while you make the filling.
- 6) Preheat the oven to 325°F, with one rack set on the lowest level, one in the middle.
- 7) To make the filling: Start by combining the milk, cream, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture until small bubbles form around the edges, and steam starts to wisp from the surface; this is how you "scald" milk, if you've ever seen that technique mentioned.
- 8) In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Pour 1/4 of the hot milk/cream over the egg mixture, stirring well. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk/cream, stirring well. Pour the custard through a sieve, to strain out any possible bits of cooked egg. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- 10) Pour the hot filling into the crust. Sprinkle the nutmeg evenly over the top.
- 11) Set the pie on a baking sheet; it'll be easier to move into the oven that way. Place the pie/baking sheet onto your oven's bottom rack. Bake for 20 minutes.
- 12) Transfer the pie to the middle rack of your oven, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the custard is set at the edges but still a bit wobbly in the center. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the pie should read about 165°F; if the mixture goes above 180°F, you run the risk of the custard becoming watery.
- 13) Remove the pie from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool. When it's completely cool, refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
- Yield: 8 to 12 servings.
Tips from our bakers
- Can you use skim milk and fat-free half & half? Sure; your pie simply won't taste as rich.