Strawberry Custard Pie

As you may know, I recently made the best “pumpkin” pie I’ve ever made. The custard was smooth, completely soft but held its structure, creamy but didn’t taste creamy–it tasted like the best squash ever. While we were finishing up the pie, we were also finishing off the last of our homegrown strawberries and I thought, “what about a strawberry custard pie?”

Well, obviously, Southerners have already been making this for generations. My pie vision included essentially the “pumpkin” pie recipe, but with strawberries instead of squash. I had some concerns about the extra water that comes with strawberries, but I felt that could be overcome. As I poked around for recipes that matched what I envisioned, I found a lot of recipes where you bake-the-crust, fill with custard, and refrigerate to set. I’m curious to try that with yogurt rather than cream.

But I wanted a baked custard. This recipe came the closest to what I wanted, and referenced that many people experienced her pie as a walk down memory lane. It’s good to remember that all creativity is really just a cycle…

This experimental (or historical-reference) pie came out AMAZINGLY. It tastes like the best homemade strawberry ice cream, in a pie crust. LP says it’s his new favorite pie.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 stick (4 TBSP) butter, cold
  • ~4 TBSP oil
  • ~4 TBSP ice water

Filling

  • 1 cup cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lb strawberries*
  • <1/4 cup sugar

GUIDELINES

  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Cut the butter into the smallest cubes you can, ~1/8″.
  3. Mix butter into flour and break up any large lumps, so you have small-pea-sized butter bits.
  4. Drizzle oil over the mixture and mix in, so you have about 1/2 sand texture and 1/2 pea-sized butter and oil bits.
  5. Add cold water just enough to barely bring dough together.
  6. Form into a ball and refrigerate or freeze until use, at least 30 minutes.
  7. Trim Strawberries (remove the stems). Pick two attractive ones and thinly slice them. Set aside the middle slices for decoration.
  8. Place the remaining strawberries and strawberry bits in a blender/food processor/vitamix. Sprinkle with just a little sugar. Mix until fully liquid. Taste for sweetness. If your strawberries are sweet, you might not need to add much sugar at all. If they’re more tart, you might add a bit more.
  9. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Mix in cream, milk, vanilla.
  10. Heat oven to 350’F.
  11. Roll out your dough to just-larger than your pie pan. (I keep large cereal bags for this when I have them; they’re a little stiffer than wax paper or parchment paper, and would otherwise just go in the trash! Wax paper or parchment paper work great as well.)
  12. Gently remove the paper from one side of your crust. Place it lightly back on and flip the crust over. Gently remove the paper from that side, then flip it onto the pan. Center it and remove the paper.
  13. Gently lift the crust and tuck it all the way down to the bottom corner of the pan. Fold over the excess and pinch it around the top edge. If this makes your pie crust a little taller around the edge, all the better! That will keep your custard in.**
  14. Add cream mixture to the strawberries and mix on low. Pour into your prepared crust.
  15. Place your sliced strawberries in an attractive pattern around your custard.
  16. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the custard has recently puffed up and the center is just slightly jiggly.
  17. Allow to cool completely before serving. Otherwise, your custard will collapse! This pie is also really good cold.

*I used fresh strawberries, and this was amazing. If you’re using fresh, cut off the tops and then pick 2 with the most attractive shape and thinly slice them. Set aside just the middle slices for decoration and use the sides and the other strawberries for the filling. If you’re using frozen, I would just mix them all into the filling.

**Custard and pumpkin pies typically say to par bake the crust, meaning, bake it before you fill it. I never do this because if it comes out great, why add an extra step? This pie, next time I would par bake the crust. This one came out deliciously, but the strawberries add so much liquid that the inner crust did not cook as fully as I would prefer. You can par bake using fancy pie weights, dried beans, or just poking the crust with a fork and then baking until lightly golden.

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