Pie-baking aficionado Rhonda Martin won the top pie prize at the Orange County Fair several years ago. It was my pleasure to be one of the pie-baking judges that year. That pie remains one of my favorite apple pies (yes, I have 3 others in my repertoire that I consider my favorites). I love pies, and apple pies in particular.
Martin started entering pie competitions at the Fair in 2004 and has won many blue ribbons and honorable mentions.
Her Apple Custard Pie is best served warm or at room temperature (it can sit on a cooling rack for up to 2 hours), or it can be made a day ahead, cooled, refrigerated and reheated in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. When chilled the custard solidifies, so be sure to heat it before serving if it has been refrigerated.
Unfortunately, the 2020 O.C. Fair has been canceled due to the current health crisis. BUT, you can make this pie at home.
You will fall in love.
Rhonda Martin’s Apple Custard Pie
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable shortening such as Crisco
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water (without ice), divided use
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups peeled, chunks Granny Smith apples (use 8 if they are small), see cook’s notes
1 tablespoon butter, cut into 6 pieces
Garnish: 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Minced lemon zest (lemon peel, colored portion only) of 1/2 medium-sized lemon
Cook’s notes: Cut apples into quarters; peel and core. Cut each quarter crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.
1. For the dough: Mix together all dry ingredients and then cut in shortening with pastry cutter or two knives until mixture looks like coarse meal and shortening is in small pieces (like very small peas). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water over the flour mixture and stir gently with a fork. Repeat until all the dough is moistened. Form dough into a ball and cut in half. Form each half into a disc shape, wrap with plastic-wrap, and place in the refrigerator until ready to roll out, at least 30 minutes (Martin usually chills it while she cuts the apples and prepares the filling).
2. For the filling: In a bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add apples and toss; set aside.
3. Adjust oven rack to middle; preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a dry, lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out 1 disk of dough to 3/16-inches thickness and ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Lightly dust work surface with flour and roll out the second disk of dough to make the top crust. Cut out 6 (1 1/2-inch to 2-inch) circles using a floured biscuit cutter, cookie cutter or glass (make one in the center, and five around it leaving a space between each (I find it “safer” to just make the 5 exterior circle cut-outs, without putting one in the center – that is because I use a 2-inch cutter). Place apple mixture in bottom crust in the pie pan and dot with butter. Cover pie with top crust. Pinch top and bottom crusts together around the edge of the pie pan. Fold over excess dough and crimp edge if desired, or press together with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle top crust with sugar.
4. To prevent over-browning, cover edge of pie with aluminum foil (I use a metal or silicone “pie crust shield” that I bought at Sur La Table that protects the edge of the crust from over-browning). Bake for 45 minutes and then remove foil (or shield) and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Custard filling: While pie bakes, place eggs and sugar in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until mixture just coats a metal spoon (about 8 to 10 minutes). I like to use a wooden spatula because the flat bottom efficiently scrapes the bottom surface of the pan. To coat a spoon is a culinary term that means when you drag your finger over the back of the spoon it is thick enough to leave a trail. Do not overheat or eggs will curdle. Remove from heat; add cream cheese in small amounts stirring until cream cheese melts. Stir in sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest. (Strain if any lumps are present.)6. Remove pie from oven and place on cooking rack. Carefully spoon custard into holes in top of pie crust. Cool slightly. Serve warm. Chill to store.