Friday, August 3, 2012

Berry Vanilla Custard Pie

On Saturday my housemate and I watched Waitress starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. This movie is great. Heartwarming, and sweet. Plus its got Nathan Fillion, and pies. Lots and lots of pies. So after some active convincing, my housemate and I got to work on our first ever pie entirely from scratch!

Adapted from

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp ice water


2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon for the berries
1/8 tsp salt
3 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/3 cups milk
About 2 cups of frozen berries, (or 1/2 cup mashed) (I used strawberries and blackberries)

Preheat the oven to 400˚.

First combine flour, salt, and sugar in your food processor and pulse to mix.

Add the butter,

and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. The colder your butter, the better. You might even want to put it in the freezer for a half hour after you cut it into cubes to make sure it is extra cold.

Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again. Note that too much water will make the crust tough. Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface.

Work the dough just enough to form a disk, do not over-knead. You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

First heat up the milk and sugar in a saucepan until little bubbles form around the edges of the pan (called scalding). Be careful though! It could boil over in a split second!

While the milk is heating up, beat your eggs.

Also while the milk is heating up, you can mash your berries. I got these beautiful organic strawberries and blackberries from the farm at UCSC (where I just got hired!) and froze them the day I got them, waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them!

There. Beautiful.

Don't forget to add the extra tablespoon of sugar here when mashing your berries!

Now here is the tricky part (and what my housemate was most scared of). Once the milk has scalded, slowly pour it into the beaten eggs while whisking vigorously. If you aren’t careful, the beaten eggs can turn into scrambled eggs from the heat of the milk. If you let the milk run down the side of the bowl as you pour it into the eggs, it gives it just enough time to cool to increase your chances of a scramble free custard.

Whisk until it is lighter in color. Then add the vanilla.

Once your crust has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. 

Roll out with whatever you have on hand on a lightly floured surface. (In the 3 years I’ve lived away from home, I have never had a rolling pin. I always use my handy dandy glassware and it works just fine!)

Do the best to get it into a 12-inch circle. You can eyeball it.

Carefully lift up the dough and lay it over your pan. Press the dough into the pan being careful not to tear the dough. (If you do, it's ok, you can smush it back together.

If you want your dough to be nice and flaky, brush an egg white onto the crust (this prevents the custard from sinking in)

Slowly pour the custard mixture into the prepared pie pan. Scoop the mashed berries into the pan. Use the tip of a knife to swirl and mix the berries into the custard. Don’t worry about a pretty design, the berries float to the top when the custard forms.

Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown and a knife comes out with only the berries on it, and no custard.

And enjoy!

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