By Alison Steele
Every year for my birthday I bake egg custard pies. It’s one of my mama’s favorites and seems to tickle fond childhood memories. Treats like spoon bread, egg custard, bread pudding, and cream pie were readily made on their small backwoods farm from fresh eggs, freshly skimmed cream, raw milk, and day-old bread. Becoming harder and harder to find, preserving desserts the old folks love and introducing them to my kids has become important to me. This is an adaptation from the “receipt” my Aunt Ethel had along with Great Grandma Torrie, who had no need to write it down, no doubt brought over on boats from “the old country” and down through the Shenandoah Valley eventually settling in The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Dairy pies were set in the springhouse on a wooden slab hanging from the roof to keep fresh and fruit pies inside in the pie safe to keep flies away.
As food allergies creep up and dietary choices change, so must the recipe. I’ve switched out the dairy for coconut, lowered the sugar content, and substituted seeds in place of grains. I’m using free-range eggs from Caplinger Farm. The yolks were as big and bright as the sun! Finally, I pour this silky custard into an allergy friendly shell I picked up from the local grocery, grate nutmeg from Aunt Bev’s spicy island of Granada, and slide it onto the middle rack. The old timer’s like to eat their slice at room temperature, but I prefer mine refrigerated. You decide how you like your old-fashioned Egg Custard Pie. Enjoy!
Egg Custard Pie
3 cups canned full fat coconut milk
3 eggs, beaten
⅓ c lightly-colored sugar
½ t salt
2 t flour (if using a GF blend, make sure it has a rice, tapioca, or other starchy base)
¼ t freshly grated nutmeg
1 (9 inch) pie crust, chilled
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Stir the sugar and flour together. Add beaten eggs. Bring milk to just under a boil, and slowly pour in the egg mixture stirring quickly and carefully. Move your pie crust to a counter near the oven. Slowly pour the warm and runny filling into the cold crust. Generously grate some nutmeg in the center of the pie, and oh so carefully, slide it into the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 1, (9 inch) pie. You will have valuable leftovers from the filling. Fill an oven-proof baking dish half full with water and set two or three 4 oz. mason jars inside. Fill your jars ¾ full and bake alongside the pie until your knife inserted comes out clean (about 35 minutes). The custard middles will still jiggle a bit and continue to bake when removed from the oven.
A native of Virginia, Alison Steele lives with her husband, two children, and cat in Boulder Creek where she raises quail, chickens, fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. Alison plays banjo and sings in Sugar by the Pound
Photo by Alison Steele