I could not have survived this past month without two things: endorphins and laughter. If I could bottle the feeling that you get after completing an invigorating four mile-run, I’m sure I’d be a billionaire. The same could be said about laughter. It is the best medicine, curing all ailments. To get me out of my winter funk, I overdosed on both endorphins and laughter, and I’m finally back. To thank those that helped me see the light, I baked a special Lemon Custard Pie.
Seems like a fair trade, right?
I personally believe a higher power sent lemon and other citrus fruits in the depths of winter specifically to perk us all up. Amidst the dark skies and heavy food, oranges and lemons grow abundantly, and zap our tastebuds back to reality. The minute I found this recipe in Ken Haedrich’s baking book, I was determined to make it. I’ve successfully made a pie from him before and loved the results. His crust recipes produce the most flavorful and sturdy pie crusts I’ve ever known and his pie baking book has become a reliable staple in my kitchen.
If you’ve ever had lemon curd and loved it, you will fall for this lemon custard. Sweet and sour are perfectly matched and balanced. My main problem with Lemon Meringue pies is that they often taste too sweet, thanks to the meringue. This pie is thankfully without the piles of meringue and the lemon custard is the star of this dessert. Make sure to use good lemons since the entire pie relies on their flavor; do not even try to use the sad leftover ones at the supermarket.
I’m not a pie expert but I’m getting the hang of knowing my way when handling the crust and filling. Don’t touch or mix the pie crust too much; it prefers to be left alone. I use a food processor to make my pie crusts since it reduces the amount of actually hand-holding, which melts the butter.
I think I may have conquered my pie-baking fears as this one turned out delicious. Sweet and tangy, with a little bite and a soft buttery crust, it was everything I hoped. For all you East Coast-ers stuck under piles of snow, get this pie going and have it waiting for you after you come back from shoveling the endless amounts of snow in your driveway. And be glad that Spring is only 6-8 weeks away. I’m just a bundle of sunshine, aren’t I?!
Lemon Custard Pie
Origin: Ken Haedrich’s “Pie”
Yield: 8-10 servings
Cooking Time: 7 to 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours to chill
● 1 store-bought frozen 9-inch deep-dish pie shell, (you can also use your own pie crust recipe or try my favorite by the same author)
● 1/2 cup light cream or half and half
● 1/3 cup sugar
● 5 large egg yolks
● 1 cup heavy whipping cream
● 3/4 tsp lemon extract
● 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
● 1 to 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
● Ripe raspberries
● Dollop of fresh whipped cream
Partially prebake the pie shell according to the directions on the package. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool thoroughly. Reduce the oven temperature to 325℉.
Gentle whisk the light cream, sugar, and egg yolks together in a medium-size bowl. Add the heavy cream, extracts, and lemon zest. Whisk again, briefly, just until evenly blended. Carefully pour the filling into the cooled pie shell.
Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 275℉ and rotate the pie 180 degrees so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Continue to bake until the center is jst barely set, 20 to 25 minutes. To check, give the pie a quick nudge. The filling shouldn’t seem soupy in the center.
Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover with loosely tented aluminum and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. Garnish, if desired.