Pies get a bit interesting in winter.
Without berries, rhubarb and stone fruit, apples are really all you can use for a classic fruit pie.
This is where custard comes in.
On this beautiful sunny day, I got a haul of amazing blood oranges from St. Lawrence and went to town on a blood orange custard pie. Baking with blood oranges is such a treat as a vivid, bright purple orange turns into a pretty pink and yet tastes like a creamsicle. ALL GOOD THINGS.
Let’s get started.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 8 pieces)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 tbsp vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
- Zest of one blood orange (1-2 tbsp)
- 5 tbsp melted butter
- 5 eggs
- Juice of 3-4 blood oranges (about 6-8 tbsp)
- 2-3 tbsp lemon juice (start with two and add to taste)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cups cream
First off, I’m going to turn into a baking snob for a quick sec… PLEASE MAKE YOUR OWN CRUST. FROM SCRATCH. It makes a HUGE difference in your final product and you will be Pie Master. The extra time is worth it and you can write it off as your arm workout.
First, mix all your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) in a large bowl. With a pastry blender, “cut” in your butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger (see below).
Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand. Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms. If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along. Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together. Flatten a little into a circle, wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Once your dough has rested, roll it out on a floured surface until it is just over a foot in diameter. If it’s a bit of a wonky shape, cut a bit off one side to add to the side that needs it (use a fork to blend the sides together).
Fold the circle in half and place in a buttered pie pan, ensuring there aren’t any spaces between the dough and the corner of the pan. There should be about 1-2 inches of dough overhanging, roll/fold this dough UNDERNEATH itself, on top of the pan rim so there’s a little dough ledge. To get a lovely crimped crust, pinch and push as shown below:
Once you’re fully crimped, place the pie in the fridge for 30 minutes and then prick it all around with a fork (~20 times). Place in the freezer until solid (10-15 minutes).
This is where blind baking comes in (pre-baking the crust for a custard pie). Wrap the pie in foil ensuring there are NO SPACES between foil and dough and weigh it down it with uncooked rice, beans or ceramic pie weights, mainly around the sides (this minimizes crust shrinking). Bake at 425F for 20 minutes until the crust sets and let cool completely.
In the meantime, make your filling. Whisk your sugar, flour, salt and zest until combined and add melted butter. Add your eggs one at a time until the filling is thick and yellow. Proceed to add your orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla, stirring well in between, adding your cream afterwards.
Strain filling into your pie crust.I wasn’t joking about it being a sunny day.
Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake the pie for ~45 minutes at 325F, or until the pie is completely set along the edges and still jiggly like gelatin in the centre. Let cool for 2 hours and enjoy!
Ain’t she a beaut!
Crust recipe adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds book