Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Ye Olde Custard Pie
When I think of English cooking (truly English, as in in England), I always think of custard tarts or pies. Custard pies burst onto the food scene way back in the middle ages. The lovely English countryside, with all of those farms producing rich milk and cream. The wives on those farms used up their abundance of eggs and milk by making custard pies and custard tarts, among other things, to feed their usually rather large families. Farming was hard work back then and you needed some serious food to keep you going. Custard was used as a filling for crust, and not initially as a sauce or stand alone type pudding. That would come later. In fact, custard is derived from the word "crustade", literally a tart with a crust. That's your history lesson for the day :)
There are really 2 kinds of custard pies: the ones you mix up and bake in an unbaked pie crust or the ones where you cook the custard on the stove and pour it into the pre-bakes pie crust. Sometimes the latter is referred to as a cream pie. I have one of each to share with you today. How exciting!
First up: Chocolate Cream Pie
This is the cook before you add it to the pie crust variety. It's also insanely delicious, and was unanimously voted our new chocolate pie recipe.
Grandma's Chocolate Pie
recipe found here: Homesick Texan
I pre-baked 9 inch pie crust
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon butter
Mix everything but the butter and vanilla in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it's as thick as you want it. This isn't a baked in the oven pie, so remember to make that custard thick and delicious! After it has reached your desired thickness, take it off the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir well. Pour it into the pre-baked pie crust. Now you have a choice to make: the lovely blogger tops it off with meringue, but we just aren't meringue people so I chose to refrigerate it and top it with whipped cream. To get the meringue recipe, please see the recipe link at the top of the recipe here.
This pie meets every expectation I have for a chocolate pie. It's rich and chocolate-y without being super sweet. If you wanted to make an all chocolate pie and skip the cream topping (or just make a deep dish pie with cream topping) I would double the recipe.
That brings us to our traditional custard pie, I chose to make this one a coconut flavor.
This pie has a completely different texture than the chocolate one. It's rich and velvety, soft and creamy. This pie is very rich, so small pieces are advisable. It also makes a great breakfast if anyone else is into eating pie first thing in the morning ;)
Coconut Custard Pie
adapted from this recipe: Coconut Custard Pie III
Your favorite 9 inch pie crust
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups milk
1/2 cup haeavy cream or half and half
1 cup shredded coconut
In a bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla; mix well. Is a small saucepan, heat the cream and milk until it's too hot to hold your finger in. Slowly add a small amount to the egg mixture, stirring the whole time, Gradually add the milk while stirring and mix well. Add coconut. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 degrees on the lowest rack of the oven for 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold, but always refrigerate the leftovers.
Think of all the custard recipes that we are familiar with and love; pumpkin, sweet potato pie, chess pie. Step out of the familiar and make a new kind of custard pie. Your family just might thank you for it :)