Ideal custard pie filling needs a crust as good


POSTED: Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Last week's column about the ideal custard pie drew a few grateful responses but also a few needy ones.

The recipe came from Henry Shun, a retired commercial baker who has compiled several of his well-tested recipes into a booklet, “;Seasons of Baking”; (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)). He provided the recipe for an ideal custard pie filling.

But what about the crust? This was the gist of the aforementioned needy responses.

So here is Shun's crust recipe. There are simpler recipes, but this is a professional's recipe, designed for better results by taking more care.

Shun also offers some trouble-shooting:

» This recipe is meant to mixed by hand, but if you want to use a mixer, it should be a standing mixer with paddle attachment — and beware of overmixing. Shun suggests using the mixer to cut the shortening or butter into the flour, then adding a paste of water, salt, sugar and flour (see recipe for details) and running the mixer for a very short time, until just combined. Finish blending by hand on a floured surface.

» A hand-mixed dough will be more flaky compared with a machine-mixed dough, which Shun describes as “;mealy.”; This might not sound appetizing, but it is desirable for certain types of pies, particularly custards or quiches that need a tender but sturdy crust.

» If the bottom of your pie crust is soggy or underbaked, try adding more sugar to the dough — two or three times more. What's happening is the filling is colder than the pie shell when the pie goes into the oven and can result in uneven baking. Higher sugar content helps compensate.

» If your crust puffs up in the bottom, poke a few small holes in the bottom of your pie pan with an ice pick (the pan can still be reused). The holes let hot air escape rather than push up into your crust. Obviously you can't do this with a glass pan.

If you missed Shun's custard recipe, it was in last Wednesday's Star-Bulletin (dig it out of the recycling pile), or find it online at hsblinks.com/uo.


Henry Shun's pie crust

4-1/4 cups pastry flour (see note)
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons shortening or butter
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Place 4 cups flour in bowl with shortening or butter. Cut shortening into flour (using pastry cutter or two butter knives) until mixture forms pea-size lumps.

Combine water, salt and sugar with remaining 1/4 cup flour to make soft paste. Add to flour/shortening mixture and combine to form ball. Roll into a log about 3 inches in diameter, cover with waxed paper and chill overnight.

The next day, work dough slightly to blend in any lumps of shortening. Don't worry about overmixing. No lumps should remain, or they will melt and create raw spots in the crust.

Divide dough into 2 balls. Roll out dough to fit your pie pans. Place dough in pan, tapping so dough is flush with pan. Trim edges with plastic knife and crimp. Fill with desired ingredients and bake. Makes enough dough for 2 9-inch pie crusts, or 1 bottom and 1 top crust. (To secure a top crust, moisten rim of bottom crust with beaten egg. Trim. Press lightly to seal. Use a fork to prick holes in top of crust to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush with egg wash.)

Note: Pastry flour is a low-protein flour that might be hard to find. Substitute with a mixture of 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour combined with 1/2 cup cornstarch.

Nutritional information unavailable.