Rich, Silky Custard Pie

Published May 1, 1999.

Why this recipe works:

We wanted our custard pie recipe to produce a pie with a crisp crust and a tender yet flavorful filling, and we set out to find a foolproof cooking method. For the custard, we used a combination of milk and heavy cream, thickened with three whole eggs and cornstarch and flavored with vanilla,… read more

We wanted our custard pie recipe to produce a pie with a crisp crust and a tender yet flavorful filling, and we set out to find a foolproof cooking method. For the custard, we used a combination of milk and heavy cream, thickened with three whole eggs and cornstarch and flavored with vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. To avoid overcooked custard at the edges of the pie, we cooked our filling in a saucepan until it thickened and then poured the hot filling into a hot, prebaked pie crust.

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Serves 8

For a flaky and tender pie pastry with detailed instructions on how to prebake it, see the related recipe. The prebaked pie shell can be made ahead, but it should be heated in a 375-degree oven until hot, about 5 minutes, before the custard filling is poured into it. Or, if you prefer to prebake the pie shell and make the pie in one continuous process, begin heating the milk and cream for the custard when the foil and pie weights are removed; the filling should be ready at the same time as the shell is ready to be filled. (The oven rack position and temperature for prebaking the pie shell remain the same for the filled pie.) It is a given: Your pie shell will shrink as it bakes. With minimal shrinkage, all the custard will fit into the shell, but if you experience more severe shrinkage you will have some leftover filling.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell (see note above)

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat milk and cream in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl.

    2. Heat prebaked pie shell in oven until hot, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk steaming milk and cream into egg and cornstarch mixture in slow, steady stream. Return egg and milk mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, scraping bottom of pan, until custard begins to thicken and forms a ridge on tip of spoon when bottom of pan is scraped and spoon is lifted (see illustration below), 6 to 8 minutes. (If using thermometer, stir occasionally until custard reaches 160, then constantly.) Leaving pie plate on oven rack, pour custard into hot pie shell. Bake until custard has set around edges but jiggles slightly in the center when shaken, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, 2 hours. cut into wedges and serve.

Technique

How to Tell When the Custard is Done

Scrape along the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula; when a bit of custard adheres to the edge of the spoon, your custard is done.

Recipe Testing

Filling the Pie Shell

The hot filling needs to go directly into a hot prebaked pie shell. If you have made the pie shell in advance, heat it up before adding the filling.

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