Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recipe: More nostalgia… Old Fashioned Custard Pie

God's always got a custard pie up his sleeve. – Margaret Forster 

Piece of pie anyone? This was a great result. Mmmmmmmm.....
Still nostalgic. Thinking about pie now…

When I was young there used to be a "Pie Aid" every month (if I remember correctly) in Middlefield, a neighbouring village to the one where I grew up. It was run by the local Women's Institute.

Just out of the oven. It needs to cool for 2-3 hours.
The Women's Institute of Canada is an organization that was established in the early years of the 1900s as an organization for women in rural areas. 

Still active, they provide resources, as well as education on nutrition and help in raising families. They also volunteer for the benefit of the communities where they are active.

When I was young, most villages had a Women's Institute branch. The Women's Institute in Middlefield partly raised money by pie aids where you bought either a slice or whole pies. They also made knit wear, crochet and tatting which was for sale at the same event.

The Pie Aids were hosted in different members homes in rotation. They were as much fundraiser as they were social activity. Mom, Dad and I used to get in the car and drive the five miles for every one. 

This is how proper pie dough should look before rolling.
There were some amazing pie makers, as you can imagine, each proud to make the own specialty. I had two favourites: chocolate and custard. I think that the cost of a slice was 25¢ or 50¢.

I couldn't believe it last week when I found this recipe in an old cookbook. It was so close to what we used to have in Middlefield it wasn't even funny. I made this pie yesterday, and I have to say it was extremely easy and turned out really well… So here it is, for you to make and enjoy.

Old Fashioned Custard Pie

Pastry for 9" single crust pie
This recipe is from "Fanny Farmer." Tried and true.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening or lard
3-4 tbsp ice cold water

The rolled out crust.
The secret to good pie pastry is to not , in my father's words, "maul it." Dad used to make the pies in our family. He was always in a hurry and this worked to his benefit. Just touch the dough enough to bring it together. Not ONE SECOND more. If you follow these directions you will have success.

Mix the flour and salt. Cut the shortening in to the size of peas. Do not make it any finer. If you do you won't have a flaky crust. Add enough water just to bring it together as a shaggy dough. Check the picture above.

Roll out on a board with just enough flour so it doesn't stick. Lift and place in the pie plate. Do not flute the edge, but rather leave plain trimmed with the edge of the plate, or impressed with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before filling and baking.

There are two different ways to proceed at this point. The first is to fill it and bake. This results in a soft bottom crust that some prefer and some don't. If desired you can partly pre-bake the shell. Prick the bottom with a fork and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes before filling. I didn't. That's the way I remember the pie from the Pie Aids, but it's your call.

This shows the frothed 1/3 cup of custard about to be
"flooded" ove the top. It was easy to do.
Old Fashioned Custard
2 1/2 cups milk, scalded (I used 10% cream and it's even better than with milk)
 4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400°F. Adjust rack to 5-6 inches from the bottom of the oven.

Scald the milk in the top of a double boiler.(Milk is scalded when bubbles form at the very edge of the pan.) Cover to avoid a skin from forming.

Beat the eggs until the yolks and whites are thoroughly mixed. Add the sugar, salt and scalded milk slowly, stirring constantly.

Quickly strain the custard mixture, add the vanilla and pour, except for 1/3 cup, into the prepared crust.

Ready for the oven, with fresh nutmeg on top.
Beat the remaining custard until very foamy and the gently flow it over the top of the custard in the shell. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard is set except for about 1" in the very centre of the pie. Test for doneness by gently jiggling the pie plate. It should look set but shake in the centre. It will continue to cook after being removed from the oven.

Let cool for 2-3 hours before serving. This pie is best served the day of baking.


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  1. Just found your blog and loved it, it is so refreshing. Great recipes, will try the this pie today, my kids will thank u forever. Thanks for posting :D

  2. This is definitely a winner! I love this pie. It looks SO good!