Think of this Raspberry-Brown Butter Custard Pie as a present. The crisp crust hides gorgeous raspberries and a creamy, decadent custard. It’s delicious.
There have been very few times that I’ve pulled something out of the oven and thought that I had totally flopped it. My friends, this is one of those times.
Yes, it’s true that the photo in the magazine and on Food & Wine’s site show their pie before it goes into the oven, the custard all milky and creamy, the berries plump and firm and the prebaked crust perfectly cooked.
But it’s not hard to understand why I figured the finished pie would look somewhat similar, just a bit more … baked, is it?
You should have seen my face when I checked on my latest creation an hour into baking time and saw a hard, dark golden crust hiding the berries and what I hoped was still a custard inside.
I disheartened, downtrodden and distraught. I thought I had failed.
So, I headed to Food & Wine’s web site to see if there had been a mistake in the magazine. Nope. The ingredients and instructions were exactly the same. What I did see, however, were several comments from other cooks who had tried the recipe and had the same results. Aha! It wasn’t my fault.
Rather than just chalking the experience up to one of those glitches that everyone has the misfortune to trip over once in a while, I decided to follow through and figure out what went wrong. So, I snapped a quick photo of the pie with my phone and sent it via e-mail to the folks at Food & Wine.
I received a phone call from Tina, the food editor yesterday. Along with being surprised at the quick and personal response, I was impressed by the magazine’s care and concern for the recipe as well as the readers who are attempting to make the food.
Tina explained that the pie looked exactly like it was supposed to; the filling was meant to create a sugary, meringue-like crust over the creamy crust and perfectly cooked raspberries.
I suggested that the photo of the prebaked pie might lead others, like it did me, to think that the final product would resemble that, just cooked, and that the instruction near the end, where it says to bake the pie ‘until the filling is set around the edge but slightly jiggly in the center’ is irrelevant since the crust makes it impossible to see anything ‘jiggly’ and feeds the assumption that the filling would maintain its custardy texture.
One thing I do know though, I’m glad I followed through and got to talk things through with Tina. I’m also glad that I didn’t just dump the pie and chalk it up as a failure, but that we cut into that homely crust and gave it a taste.
You know why?
You should be warned, this is not a simple raspberry pie. It’s not at all like the no-cook versions that call for beating ingredients together, pouring them in a shell and refrigerating them for a little while. This pie is a commitment.
The crust is unique, having a bit of cornmeal thrown in for texture, but since it uses the food processor, takes very little time. In fact, making the crust is less of a chore than baking it. Twenty minutes of cooking with pie weights in, then another fifteen minutes with the pie weights removed but the rim covered.
While the crust did its final baking, I made the custard by melting butter in a saucepan, then adding in a vanilla bean and all its seeds. My friends, that is a heavenly aroma. I could have just spooned the mixture in my mouth (but I didn’t). After a short simmer, I set the saucepan aside to cool while I beat eggs with sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt and flour. I added in the browned butter and after a final mixing, was ready to fill my crust with it and the raspberries.
The instructions say to bake the pie for an hour and 15 minutes. I checked mine at an hour 5 minutes and it was already as dark as you see above. First thing I would do next time is to keep the rim covered for the entire baking time. It’s already the perfect color from having baked for 35 minutes by itself. Adding another hour is a lot for it.
Each oven is different, so I can’t assume yours will cook as quickly as mine does, but I’d remove my pie after an hour of baking next time.
This pie is awesome. Trust me, it’s worth the hassle. The crunchy sweet crust that the filling creates does an awesome job of complementing the creamy custard and tart berries inside. We loved it.
I was surprised at how good the crust was too. While it’s a bit more substantial than most crusts I’m used to, it was also really flaky. You can see it at the bottom of the pie, all kinds of flakiness even with a wet custard on top of it. That’s impressive.
Sure, it’s not an attractive showcase pie, but served by the slice with a dollop of whipped cream, I think it’s pretty darn delicious looking and I’d have no problem serving it to guests.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d cook the pie with the crust rim covered and would pull it out at the one-hour mark, not an hour and fifteen minutes.
Raspberry-Brown Butter Custard Pie
Pie Crust Ingredients
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup fine cornmeal
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- ⅓ cup ice water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1½ cups sugar
- ⅓ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Pinch of kosher salt
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups raspberries
- Whipped cream, for serving
Make the Crust Instructions
- In a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces. With the machine on, drizzle in the ice water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gather up any crumbs and knead a few times until the dough holds together. Pat into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round, a scant ¼ inch thick. Ease the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch, fold it under itself and crimp the edge decoratively. Freeze the crust until firm, 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, until the side is lightly golden and just set. Remove the paper and pie weights. Cover the crust rim with strips of foil and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom. Let cool on a rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.
Make the Custard Instructions
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the vanilla bean and seeds and cook over moderately low heat until the butter is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool; discard the vanilla bean.
- In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolks with the sugar until thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the browned butter, lemon zest, nutmeg and salt, then beat in the flour just until blended.
- Spread the raspberries in the crust and pour the custard over the berries. Bake the pie for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the filling is set around the edge but slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream.
As much fun as it was to get the low down on this ugly duckling pie, it was even more fun to find out a bit of the behind-closed-doors goings-on at Food & Wine. Tina and I talked about the tomato ciabatta and was thrilled to find out that not only was it made repeatedly in the test kitchens, she actually made it at home as well. That’s pretty cool.
If you like this pie, check out these other delicious recipes: