The best pie of 2014

Sometimes I get an idea and let it simmer for a while. This gives me the time to decide if it’s really worth the time and energy to pursue it. Other times I get an idea, all the ingredients are right there, the kitchen’s a mess anyway and I have the time. Those times are sheer joy and I jump in with abandon whenever they come. This pie, my favorite of 2014, is the tasty outcome of just such a moment. The idea hit when I was in the middle of the busiest baking time of the year, the week before Thanksgiving until the week after Christmas.

You want to know what the pie is, right? You want the recipe, right? Okay, okay, I’ll share just because I’m nice like that! Cranberry Custard is my favorite pie of 2014 and as far as I know, it’s an original idea. I checked all over the internet to find a pie like it and I really couldn’t.

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Now, I didn’t come to this particular pie perfection right away. I actually tried a sour cream cranberry pie first with pretty good results. I tried a cran-blueberry pie with even better results. I had no complaints about the cran-blueberry pie, but the sour cream cranberry pie, while super tasty, had a grayish color that bothered me. Then there was the flavor of the filling. It fought a bit with the cranberries. Anyway, that idea itch hadn’t been fully scratched and so I thought some more.

What could I make that would be similar to the sour cream cranberry, but more harmonious. After all, Christmas is about peace on earth and how can you have peace at Christmas if the cranberries and their filling counterparts don’t quite get along? I ask myself these kinds of questions when I am baking. I have to be careful to ask them only in my inner dialogue because my husband really doesn’t like it when I get all analytical. That’s another subject all together. I was born that way, analytical, I mean. It’s not something I do or something I become, it’s who I am.

Enough about peace on earth, let’s get back to pie! So, I realize my grandma’s rhubarb custard recipe would be the perfect foil for cranberries. Oh man, was I right! So right that while on our Christmas vacation, think Christmas with the Kranks, my husband pleaded with me to make it for everyone. I did, using a spray whipped cream bottle for a rolling pin, and doing my best to remember the recipes. Apparently, I should have made two of those cranberry custard pies because everybody wanted more for breakfast the next day, too. This is the pie of my daughter’s dreams, literally. Serve it cold or room temperature with or without freshly whipped cream, but do yourself a favor and bake two or stash a few pieces away in your garage fridge.

After this recipe, you’ll find a few pictures of my Christmas, Kranks vacation style!

Cranberry Custard Pie


Ingredients
Pie Pastry for 9″ pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
6 egg yolks
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 – 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, not canned!

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place your favorite homemade or store bought unbaked pie pastry in a 9″ pie plate, preferably glass. Place your pie plate on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl mix together sugar, nutmeg and flour. In another bowl mix together milk, egg yolks and vanilla. Combine the wet with the dry, stirring all the while.

Pour enough cranberries to completely fill the bottom of your pie crust and then add a few tablespoons more (they’ll all float to the top which has more surface space than the bottom).

Pour the custard over the cranberries and put the pie, baking sheet included, into the bottom 1/3 of the preheated oven.

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until the custard is set in the middle and the cranberries have burst. Allow to cool until it reaches room temperature so the custard has time to set.

Store covered in the refrigerator up to 7 days (it won’t last that long, guaranteed).

Cran-blueberry pie has the most beautiful color and a sweet/tart flavor that wakes up the palate.

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