Friday, April 29, 2011

Flaky Pie Crust & Coconut Custard Pie

Flaky Pie Crust & Coconut Custard Pie - made April 27, 2011 from A Country Baking Treasury by Lisa Yockelson (book #97)

Remember when I said 90% of the recipes I make from Lisa Yockelson's cookbooks turn out great?  How I waxed poetical about her cookbooks I've collected over the years and love not only their variety but also their straightforwardness and simplicity?  Not to mention the delicious results that usually come from one of her recipes.  Huh.  Well, this might fall into the 10% category.  I don't know if it's me or the recipe or a combination of both. When you've been writing a baking blog for over a year and a half and baking for years longer than that, sometimes you want to try something different and sometimes you fail at it.  That's what this feels like.  I've mentioned before that I don't make pies very often, partly because I'm steadfastly devoted to apple pie, but also because I don't usually have the time or patience to deal with pie crust.  But since I did the Cooked Fruit Apple Pie, I felt somewhat better that I could make pie crust.

Should've baked a bit longer
So I didn't think it would be a big deal to try a different pie crust recipe, also from the same book I wanted to make the Coconut Custard Pie from.  And it wasn't.  I did find that I had to add more than a "few drops" of ice water to the pie dough as it was still too floury when I first started to roll it together.  I felt like I was handling it too much and it felt a bit fussy to keep gathering, chilling, rolling, chilling, rolling again, chilling again.  But it wasn't hard - you just have to have the time for it.  And overall, the pre-baked pie shell came out okay.  Wouldn't win any beauty contests but it was reasonably okay.  In hindsight, I should've baked it a tad longer than the recipe said to but since I was baking it further with the custard filling, I thought it'd be okay to take it out after it had baked as long as the recipe decreed.

The custard filling couldn't have been simpler to put together.  Only it turned out there was too much of it to bake in my pie shell so I poured the overflow into a small ceramic pie dish sans crust since I'd run out of pie dough already.  I baked this exactly as long as the recipe said to and it passed the knife test for doneness.  So far, I've followed the recipe to the letter.  So it's a bit disappointing that I didn't like this better.  I love coconut, I'm good with pie.  'cept I don't really like custard-y desserts in general (with the notable exception of creme brulee).  I do remember making a coconut custard pie in culinary school and liking that a lot more, just like I like CIA's pastry cream recipe better than any other I've tried.  I remember thinking the CIA coconut custard pie was like that pastry cream but with coconut in it - maybe that's why I like it so much.  I'm going to have to dig out that recipe and try making it for comparison.  It's not that this one was bad but it wasn't very sweet and while it wasn't runny, I think the texture could've been a bit firmer.  Which probably means I should've baked it a little longer.  Live and learn.  Failure's good for the soul and all.  Although I know this'll bug me until I can turn out a better coconut custard pie.

Flaky Pie Crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size chunks
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 extra-large egg yolk, cold
2 tablespoons ice-cold water, or more as needed
1 extra-large egg white, for waterproofing

1.      Stir the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Add butter and, using two round-bladed knives, cut into the flour until reduced to small bits.  The mixture should look like coarse cornmeal.  Sprinkle with sugar and stir in with a few brief strokes.  Blend together the egg yolk and water in a small mixing bowl.  Pour over the flour mixture.  Quickly combine to make a firm but pliable dough.  Add additional droplets of ice-cold water if the dough seems too dry or crumbly.  Turn out the dough onto a large sheet of waxed paper, shape into a rough, flat disk and wrap with the paper.  Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.
2.      To roll out the pie dough, teat off two long sheets of waxed paper at least 17 to 18 inches long.  Place the dough in the center of one sheet of waxed paper and top with the remaining sheet.  Gently press the top sheet.  Using short, quick rolling motions, roll the dough to a scant ¼” thickness (approximately 13 inches in diameter).  Transfer to a cookie sheet and chill for 20 minutes.
3.      To line a rimmed pie pan, peel off the top layer of waxed paper from the sheet of pie crust.  Cut strips of dough about 1/3 inch thick from the outside of the circle of dough.  Lightly brush the rim of the pie pan with cold water, press the strips onto the rim, and lightly brush with cold water.  Invert the circle of dough onto the bottom of the pan and peel off the waxed paper.  Press the dough lightly on the bottom first, then up and against the sides.  Press the overhang of dough onto the rim and cut off the overhang using a sharp paring knife.  Flute or crimp the edges decoratively.
4.      Prick the bottom of the pie shell with the tines of a fork.  Refrigerate, loosely covered for about 30 minutes.  For longer storage, wrap in a sheet of plastic, slide into a large plastic bag, and seal, and refrigerate or freeze.
5.      To completely pre-bake a pie shell, line the well-chilled pie shell with a single length of aluminum foil.  Fill with raw rice, dried beans or pie weights.  Preheat the oven to 425⁰F with a cookie sheet on the lower third level rack.  Bake the pie on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, remove the foil and rice, reduce the oven temperature to 375⁰F and continue baking for 10 to 12 minutes longer, or until baked through and a medium-amber color.
6.      To waterproof a pie shell, remove the shell from the oven a few minutes before it finishes baking.  Lightly beat an egg white until frothy.  Brush the inside of the pie shell up to the decorative rim with the beaten egg white, using a soft pastry brush.  Return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes longer to finish baking and to dry the egg wash.  The pie shell is now ready to be filled.

Coconut Custard Pie
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 cup light cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 fully-baked, 9-inch pie shell
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1.      Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until combined.  Whisk in the sugar, heavy cream, and light cream.  Blend in the coconut and vanilla extracts.  Stir in the coconut.
2.      Pour the filling into the baked pie shell and sprinkle the nutmeg evenly over the top.  Bake in a preheated 425⁰ oven for 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325⁰F, and continue baking for 35 minutes longer, or until the filling has set and the top is a light golden color.  A knife inserted 2 inches from the center of the pie will withdraw clean.
3.      Transfer to a cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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