Luscious Peach Custard Pie

There are a couple dozen more peaches on my two trees; one tree is a Reliant and the other is a Red Haven and both bore prolifically this year, even after my fairly ruthless fruit-thinning. I’ll bet I took a little more than two hundred pounds of peaches off those trees (I can account for a hundred and forty because I weighed them out as neighbors came to buy them.)

The great luxury of homegrown peaches is that one can wait until the fruit is truly ripe and then pick it at perfection. And this year the weather cooperated beautifully, with warm, reasonably dry days and cool nights. In some years, humidity turns my peaches into grey fuzz-balls in a matter of hours. Not this year, and with many pints canned and put away, and lots of our favorite chutney made, I still have plenty to eat out of hand, under breakfast granola, sliced and surrounded by vanilla ice cream, and in a peach custard pie that Dot Meade sent me from Southwest Harbor in 2013.

Dot collected it from her daughter in Massachusetts, and reports, “The pie was so good and such a breeze to make,” that she thought it would be a good addition to my “bulging files.” When I poked through those files last winter, I found the recipe and made a note to try it out in peach season.

I suspect there is going to be considerable variability in the peaches that all of us are likely to use. The first time around on this pie, I found my peaches were just too juicy enough that I had a little excess moisture in the middle. My neighbor Cynthia, using some of my peaches, tried the pie, too, with similar results. We two cogitated on the recipe and thought perhaps one peach less and another egg would solve the problem. As usual, I knocked back the sugar a bit, too, because as you all know by now, I don’t have as much of a sweet tooth as some.

I also made sure that the peaches were not heaped up in the middle but were spread in the pie plate so that the custard would surround them, and the final topping of flour and sugar was absorbed into the custard. To make sure of that, I sprinkled the mixture then jiggled the pie plate so it settled into the peaches and custard. (I had a little left-over custard and saved it to make French toast.) A sprinkle of tapioca over one layer of peaches was sort of an insurance policy I took out on over-juiciness, but I think it wasn’t necessary.

This is a really luscious pie and as Dot observed, it is really easy to assemble. It is a good thing that there is going to be a limit to the peach quantities around here for pie making because, before too long, it wouldn’t be just my files that were bulging.

Peach Custard Pie
Serves: Makes one nine-inch pie
 
Ingredients
  • Pastry sufficient for 1 crust
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 large peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk or 1 ½ cups of half and half
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  2. Line a nine or ten-inch pie plate with the pastry.
  3. Mix together the brown sugar and flour and sprinkle it evenly over the bottom of the pie plate.
  4. Arrange the peach slices evenly over the dusted crust and avoid heaping them in the middle.
  5. Whisk together the milk and eggs, and pour it over the peaches; the peaches should be flooded by the custard.
  6. Mix together the white sugar, flour, and spices, and sprinkle it over the peaches and custard. Jiggle the pie plate so that the mixture becomes dampened and settles into the peaches.
  7. Bake 30 minutes or until the center has set, and a knife inserted comes out clean.

 

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.