Cherry Custard Pie with a flaky butter crust, almond custard filling and juicy cherries is the perfect homemade Summer dessert.
Growing up in Niagara, Ontario’s cherry and peach capital, had me craving a slice of Old Fashioned Cherry Custard Pie during the summer. The popular pie is available throughout Niagara at local cafes, bakeries and roadside farmers markets.
My favourite summer dessert recipe features a flaky pie crust filled with creamy egg custard and sliced fresh sweet cherries.
Once the pie has cooled, decorate the interior with tufts of whipped cream topped with fresh cherries. Serve with a scoop of your favourite ice cream or frozen yogurt.
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What Is Cherry Custard Pie?
Fruit pies and tarts gained in popularity in the 1500s in the United Kingdom. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.
A custard pie is any type of uncooked custard mixture added to an uncooked or partially cooked pastry crust and baked together.
In Canada and America, custard pie commonly refers to a plain mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and sometimes nutmeg combined with a pie crust.
Not to be confused with Chess Pie, a popular dessert in the American South that originated in England. It is a custard-style pie featuring a crisp browned topping.
Old Fashioned Cherry Custard Pie recipes utilize British baking traditions. The techniques were used by settlers in Canada and the US to utilize locally grown fruit.
Our Classic Cherry Custard Pie recipe features fresh sweet cherries that bake within an almond flavoured custard. For an eye-popping dessert, decorate the top of the chilled pie with whipped cream and cherries.
Is Custard Pie The Same As Cream Pie?
The biggest difference is that Custard Pie has a baked filling, and Cream Pie does not.
For example, Cherry Custard Pie is made with an egg and milk/cream custard that thickens and sets while baking in the oven. A classic Coconut Cream Pie is a custard, but it’s cooked on the stove and chilled until set.
Can You Overcook Custard Pie?
There’s a lot that can go wrong with a custard pie. The crust can get soggy, the outer ring of custard often overcooks, and the flavour can easily cross over into eggy territory, which is a little ironic because a custard wouldn’t be a custard without eggs.
Be sure to follow a custard pie recipe step by step to ensure you don’t overcook the custard or crust.
Why Did My Custard Pie Sink In The Middle?
If your pie has sunk and/or has developed a pool of liquid on top, it has baked too long! Pull it while it is puffed and dry! Ultimately, the amount of jiggle is the most universal rule in judging the doneness of a custard pie.
Why Did My Custard Pie Fall?
A custard pie filling separates from the crust due to shrinkage. This is a normal part of the cooling process. The fact is, all baked goods shrink as they cool due to the evaporation of moisture during baking.
Take this into consideration when filling a pie crust with custard. Overfill it slightly anticipating that it will slightly reduce and pull away from the crust.
Does Custard Thicken In The Fridge?
Custard does not thicken in the fridge. Egg yolks have a starch digesting enzyme called alpha-amylase. An undercooked custard may initially appear thick but will slowly turn to soup as the amylase enzyme attacks the starch and breaks the custard down, usually as it sits in the fridge.
Why Did My Custard Pie Not Set?
Custards can be tricky to get just right because you have to cook them since custard has eggs in it. If the custard is undercooked it might never set, while if you add the eggs without tempering them or while the mixture is too hot, you might end up with scrambled eggs.
If you go past that point, the egg proteins lose their shape and can no longer hold liquid, so a baked custard like crème caramel will appear curdled and runny, and a stirred custard sauce like Crème Anglaise may have bits of scrambled egg in it.
My Family Loves Old Fashioned Cherry Custard Pie
When I was a kid my grandparents lived in Niagara just outside of Toronto.
Today, it’s the heart of Ontario wine country, with the Niagara on the Lake Wineries ranked as some of the best in Canada.
While the region has historically been known as a hub for agriculture, it wasn’t until recently that the fertile soil was used to grow wine grapes.
My grandparents would always talk fondly about growing up in Niagara. They’d pluck juicy cherries, plums and peaches during the summer season on local farms. In the Fall farmers grew many varieties of apples and pears. There seemed to always be a plethora of fresh fruit!
While the majority of Niagara’s fertile land is dedicated to the wine industry today, the region’s roots growing summer stone fruit are still strong.
One of my favourite childhood memories is forking into a slice of homemade Cherry Custard Pie. The old fashioned pie recipe could be purchased at local cafes, bakeries and farmers market stands.
We like to bake Old Fashioned Cherry Custard Pie in July and August when local cherries are in peak season. You can also prepare this recipe with imported cherries outside of the summer months or by using frozen cherries stored in your freezer to enjoy all year round.
How To Bake The Perfect Pie Crust
Whether you’re a baking beginner or whiz with a rolling pin, it’s important your pie crust is as flaky as can be.
Our Cherry Custard Pie recipe crust is foolproof if you follow the directions carefully. Remember the important rules when making pastry: keep the ingredients as cold as can be and handle the dough as little as possible.
The flaky texture found in a perfect pie crust is thanks to the solid fat, usually butter or vegetable shortening, that is gently rolled into the dough. You want your final dough to be shaggy, with small lobs and chunks of fat visible to the naked eye.
When solid fat in a pie crust melts at a high temperature in the oven the water evaporates quickly, leaving layers of flaky crust, just like a croissant.
Have an active sourdough starter at home? Feel free to substitute our pie crust below with this excellent sourdough discard pie crust recipe.
If you’re looking to obsess over the perfect pie and learn the best methods I suggest purchasing The Book on Pie by Erin McDowell.
Pie Recipe Baking Tips
Ready to bake the best Cherry Custard Pie? We suggest reading the recipe directions in detail to ensure you understand the step by step process.
In order to make the most delicious pie you must take the time (and pleasure) in mixing, rolling and baking a flaky crust. If you don’t have the ingredients or time feel free to purchase a frozen pie crust. You can prepare the filling at home from scratch.
We suggest using fresh sweet cherries when baking this homemade custard pie. Our family has 3 freezers in the house so we harvest and purchase a surplus of our favourite fruits to enjoy year round. If you have frozen cherries, tart cherries or bourbon soaked cherries feel free to use them as a substitute.
If it’s your first time baking a custard pie be sure to follow the temperature and times listed in the recipe. Place a thermometer in your oven to ensure it is at the correct temperature as some ovens have varying accuracy especially if they are old.
If you remove your custard pie from the oven and the interior is runny and has not set it will unfortunately not thicken later. This is a sign that you have undercooked your pie and need to start again at step 1.
Join Dobbernationloves founder Andrew Dobson in the kitchen by signing up for a fun virtual cooking class! Classes begin with a cocktail that you can sip while preparing 2-3 recipes that are curated around a unique culinary theme. Check out our current Cooking Class Schedule!
What To Serve With Cherry Custard Pie
While Cherry Custard Pie is often served during the summer we love to enjoy this fresh fruit pie year round.
The flaky pie is an eye-catching dessert perfect for celebrating special occasions like Canada Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, baby showers and bridal showers.
Our family likes to serve pie in the evening after dinner pair with a pot of hot tea or coffee.
If you’re a pie purest you’ll likely agree there is nothing more sublime than eating a Cherry Custard Pie slice all on its own.
Feeling decadent? Serve a slice of creamy custard pie with scoops of homemade ice cream like Blueberry Cream Cheese Earl Grey Ice Cream or Maple Black Walnut Ice Cream.
How To Store Pie
If you’re planning on making extra pie to enjoy later we suggest doubling the recipe to save time.
Custard and cream pies need to be covered with plastic wrap as soon as they’re cool and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. Never store in the freezer as the custard can separate when thawed.
You May Also Enjoy These Cake, Pie & Tart Recipes…
- Festive Fresh Fig Frangipane Pistachio Tartlets
- Swedish Rhubarb Cherry Pie
- Creamy Lemon Angel Pie
- Cranberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie
- Old School Cheese and Onion Pie
- Savoury Pickle Pie
- Gianduja Lindt Lindor Chocolate Cake
- Caribbean Coconut Rum Banana Bread Bundt Cake
- Moist Baileys Banoffee Cake
- Turmeric Pumpkin Spice Indian Cake
- Swedish Strawberry Meringue Cake
- Tuscan Black Forest Brownie Zuccotto Cake
How To Make Old Fashioned Cherry Custard Pie
Old Fashioned Cherry Custard Pie
- Pie Weights
- Pie plate
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Cherry Pitter
- Mixing bowls
- Rolling pin
- Rubber Spatula or Wooden Spoon
- 150 g All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 cup Cold Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 cup Cold Water ice cold
Cherry Custard Pie Filling
- 1 lb Cherries pitted, sliced in half
- 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 cups White Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter melted
- 1/4 cup Whipping Cream
- 1 tsp Almond Extract
- Fill measuring cup with 1/4 cup of water and place into the freezer to chill. Remove before freezing as you want it to be liquid.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt then whisk together.
- Remove cold butter from fridge and cut into 8-10 pieces, working quickly to avoid warming the butter. Add to the flour mixture and toss to coat butter pieces evenly. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized.
- Add the chilled water. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, push the mixture back and forth until the liquid has been absorbed into the dry ingredients. Using your hands, lift the edges of the crumbly dough, turn them inwards and press them firmly down. Repeat this, turning the bowl, until you can gather the dough into a ball, and there are no loose pieces at the bottom of the bowl.
- Move the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form one into a round disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Place the round disc of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Holding a rolling pin at one end, pound the dough with about four or five whacks while moving from left to right. Rotate the dough 180 degrees and pound it again.
- Roll the dough out by placing the rolling pin in the center of the circle and firmly pressing down while moving the pin towards th1e outer edge of the dough. Turn the dough clockwise 45 degrees and continue this process of rolling and turning until the dough forms a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter.
- Gently fold the dough in half and lift it onto your 9 inch pie tin. Center it carefully and unfold it, pressing down into the base and corners to be sure there are no air pockets trapped underneath. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Trim the outer edge so that it overlaps the edge of the tin by 1 inch. Place into the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove plastic wrap and cover pie crust with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Fill completely with pie weights. Bake until bottom is dry, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove weights and parchment. Continue baking until bottom of crust is golden, 7 to 9 minutes more. Let cool.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, eggs, butter, cream and almond extract until smooth and combined. Pour filling into crust. Scatter cherries evenly over top, gently pressing into custard.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 F and bake until puffed and golden in places and slightly wobbly in the center, 50 minutes to 1 hour (tenting with foil if browning too quickly). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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