We sat down with Maddie Corliss of Both Hands Baking Co. to learn how to make the perfect custard pie.
Both Hands Baking Co. formed when two friends, who met in the food industry, discovered that they were positive and supportive forces for one another. When the pandemic hit, and they realized they weren’t returning to the jobs they had, Maddie and Gab wanted to create their own work environment. Enter a micro-bakery, churning out bread, pies, cakes, and more.
“Defining our own success has been the most gratifying part of it all,” Maddie says. “We make the rules.”
Since it’s one of our favorite bakeries in the city, we wanted to learn a secret or two from them. Something they were excited to talk about was custard pies. “It’s something people struggle with all the time, but it really isn’t that difficult,” Maddie says. Here are four of her tips to getting a custard pie right every single time.
After you roll out your crust, lay it in your Pie Dish, and design your crust, it is necessary to place it in the freezer to maintain the shape of the butter, which you’ve worked so hard to keep in the mixing process. Maddie mentioned that “you want the butter to be at a very hot heat initially, otherwise the crust will just sag and slump and lose its integrity. The combination of frozen butter and heat gives your crust the flavor and shape you want.”
Parbaking (or blind baking) your crust is baking it with no filling, usually at a higher temperature than what it will be when you bake the pie with the filling. “Because you’re baking the filling at such a low temperature, your crust won’t bake all the way through,” notes Maddie. The best way to do this is with pie weights, which keep the crust from puffing, ensuring you have a flat surface for your filling.
If you are letting your custard cook fully and then taking it out of the oven, two things will happen. One, your pie will be overcooked. And second, the pie’s surface will crack. Maddie swears by the “two finger rule”, which will tell you when your pie is ready.
When your filling is slightly wiggly in the center but two fingers’ width is set from the crust’s edge, turn the oven off, prop it slightly open and let your pie finish cooking in the oven’s residual heat. “If you’re looking for the whole pie to be fully set, you’ve already gone too far. It’ll continue to set as it cools in the oven,” says Maddie.
“It’s really nice to bake in Porcelain because I'm used to super-thin aluminum pie tins and it’s hard to control even browning with those. Temperature changes more quickly in aluminum and it doesn’t retain the heat like Porcelain does, which is essential for pie baking,” noted Maddie as she checked on the pie. Our Pie Dish is made in France from a 200-plus year old recipe and is thermal shock resistant, meaning it can go from freezer to oven, which is one of the four tips Maddie explained above.
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