>Masking Ugly Pie Crusts with Figs, Strawberries and Creme Patissiere

>When it comes to pie crust, I am a complete, unmitigated and hopeless disaster. Something goes wrong at the rolling out stage. I make the dough, chill it, but when the rolling pin hits my hands, all hell breaks loose, creating shapes more suited to the MOMA than a kitchen.

Although my crust looks decidedly homemade, it still tastes great with a buttery crumb with just a hint of saltiness. Since I won’t be serving perfect Martha-worthy lattice topped pies anytime soon, I layer the uneven homemade crust with my secret weapon: creme patissiere, a rich vanilla custard.
This week, my pie crust looked so bad that I actually ended up putting away the rolling pin and just using my fingers to push the crust in the mold. To make matters worse, I could not locate my round pie tin, and had to make do with an oval ceramic dish.

But this post attests to the value of holding your head high, no matter what obstacles come your way. The pie was delicious. Of course, you could probably put this deep vanilla custard on most anything and it would come out well.
How to Make Fruit Pies with Cream Filling

Buttery Pie Dough (Pate Brisee) – Enough for one 10 inch tart
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (or use salted and omit the salt)
2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water

  1. In the bowl of the food processor, throw in the flour, salt and baking powder and pulse a few times to mix well.
  2. Cut your butter into small dice and add to the work bowl. Process, pulsing quickly and repeatedly, until the dough looks like rough corn meal and no chunks of butter are visible.
  3. Scatter 2 tablespoons of water and pulse a few more times. The dough should magically become a ball. If it does not do so after six pulses, add another tablespoon of water.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it into a disk. Sandwich it between two pieces of saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. Then roll out with your favorite rolling pin and place in the pie pan.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  7. Pierce the dough lightly with a fork. Cover with a circle of parchment paper and weigh down with some dried beans or a pie chain.
  8. Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Remove the weights and the paper and bake until lightly golden, another 10 minutes.

Note: You can also mix the dough by hand, I find this very relaxing and purists, like my father, are sure to argue in favor, but if pressed for time, the results of the food processor work just as well.

There quite simply is nothing more deeply satisfying that creme patissiere still warm from the stovetop.

Creme Patissiere – Vanilla Custard

1 cup of whole milk
2 tablespoons of corn starch
6 tablespoons of sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the corn starch in 1/4 of the milk.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 3/4 cups of milk with the sugar. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
  3. Beat the egg, then the yolks and add them into the cornstarch mixture. Whisking constantly, pour a third of the hot milk into the egg mixture.
  4. Whisking constantly, return the milk mixture to the fire and bring back to a boil. Still whisking constantly, pour in the egg mixture in a stream. Continue whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.
  5. Place in a bowl and line the surface closely with some plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Preparing the Pie
  1. Once both the pie and the custard are cool, line the pie with the custard.
  2. Decorate with gorgeous in season berries or exotic fruits.
  3. To get a nice glossy sheen, you can paint the tops of the fruit with some jam syrup or honey syrup made by dissolving a little jam or honey into some water on the stovetop.
  4. Refrigerate the pie until ready to serve. The pie is best the day it is made as the fruit juices will run and the pie crust will get soggy from the custard after 24 hours.

5 Responses to >Masking Ugly Pie Crusts with Figs, Strawberries and Creme Patissiere

  1. >It looks yummy. The premade crusts will do in a pinch if you want a prettier, finished look. I know sometimes my crusts don't come out looking very nice either.

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