Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie and Pie Crust Crimping

A creamy vanilla and buttermilk custard envelopes a pile of perfectly plump pears, all baked off in an all-butter pie crust.

Yesterday my husband and I packed up our car. Not the family car that fits all the kids securely in their car seats, us in the front, but the small commuter vehicle he drives to work every day. We roused Kjell from his bed before the other children were moving in their rooms and drove across the state to visit the Mayo Clinic. As we made our way between the oil refinery, the University of Minnesota Rosemount site with its spinning wind turbine, numerous farms (and farm smells) and the site of rolling hills and a big, blue sky, I thought about how I never imagined we’d end up taking that drive together.

Instead, I had pictured marrying Ole to be a life filled with sarcasm, walks through our tree-lined neighborhood with plenty of hand-holding, cooking together in the kitchen and long family dinners. Somewhere between the wedding and the walking, however, there are a few other people we created and a lot more life than I had originally envisioned in my ideal world.

Like most things, life things take time and commitment. They are like a glass of spilled milk, spreading and swirling its less than viscous white liquid into every crack and crevice of free space available.

So, today, in the early morning, I made a pie for the man I married. Not just any pie, but a pie he requested years ago when we were still considered newlyweds and the expanse of our life together seemed to stretch on forever, infinite and free of trouble and worry. A pie I had yet to make.

Pie Crust Crimping

Pie crust crimping is kind of secondary for me to a good, flaky crust and a luscious filling. However, it also goes a long way in presentation, so it seems at least somewhat necessary, especially when we’re thinking of the holidays. Here are a few tips to keep you sane as you go:

1. Leave extra dough around the plate. Always make your rolled out dough larger than you need so you can trim the edge. When you can get the edge all the same length, it will help make the crimping go easier and neater.


2. Keep it cold. The warmer your dough gets, the more impossible it becomes to work with. Try rolling it out and fitting it in your pie plate before you turn on the oven to keep the room colder. If your hands start to get hot, have a cold glass of water to hold or stand outside for a minute to get them to cool off before continuing.

3. Use a mat or parchment. Rather than rolling out your pie crust on a table or counter, cover your surface with something that won’t promote sticking. It will help you from adding too much flour to keep the dough from sticking, and that will keep your crust in good shape.

4. Don’t fret. Your crust isn’t going to be perfect. There will be cracks and breaks in the dough as you crimp, and you know what? It’s okay. They’ll either cook together or they won’t. Your pie will still taste amazing.

Here I am crimping. I use two methods. One is the four-finger method and one is the more traditional three-finger. Simply use your fingers as guides for where the crust needs to go. With the four-finger method you want to go over the last crimp in the dough when creating the next one. This creates tight crimps.

You can also braid the edge of your pie crust. To do this, I create an even lip on my crust that’s in the plate.

Then I roll out the extra dough and cut it into thin, long strips. I then braid those strips together to line the edge of the pie. The brush and dish there are water to help hold the braid together at the top and bottom of the braid. I also use it when attaching the braid to the crust in the plate.

I generally need 3-4 braids to go around the entire pie, with each strip of dough being about 9″ long before braiding.

You can also get fancy and do a design with cookie cutters around the edge. These also make great decorations that can be baked off separately and added to the pie when it’s time to serve.

Of course, pie crust without a pie would just be a shame, and so, I filled the braided crust with a mix of pears and buttermilk custard, the pie requested so long ago when things were simple and easy.

What are your favorite pies to enjoy on Thanksgiving? I’m willing to bet you’ll find one that suits your fancy over at TidyMom’s Love the Pie going on this week.

I’m playing today all over the place! Check out these other great Thanksgiving items for Food Network’s Thanksgiving Communal Table. Pull up a chair and check it out.

Update: I used an Emile Henry 9″ Pie Plate, and I had more than enough room for the filling. It is a deeper pie plate, so if you end up with extra filling, just bake it off in a ramekin or two for a snack.

Pie dough for one 9″ crust
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, beaten, optional (for the crust)
5 cups peeled and thinly sliced just-ripe pears (4-5 medium)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll out pie crust and fit into a deep 9″ pie plate. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes. Brush the edges of the crust lightly with the beaten egg.

Arrange slices of pear over the crust just to the top edge, leaving a slight lip for the custard and fruit to expand during cooking.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, vanilla bean seeds and salt. Add in eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the custard mix over the pears.

Bake at 425° F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F and continue baking for 45-55 minutes until custard is set and the pie is firm in the center. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.


Makes 8-10 slices of pie.
Copyright © Food for My Family.

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Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
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Even more:
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Comments

  1. I kind of hate you right now for having the skill to make such a gorgeous looking pie. OK… the hating is over. Love you, love this post, and #lovetheflippinpie ;)

  2. What beautiful techniques for finishing a pie crust. Maybe mine won’t look so miserable now the next time I attempt one. ;) Your recipe sounds delicious!

  3. LOL Kristen…….Shaina makes it look so easy AND beautiful!!

    I’m in love with this pie Shaina!!

  4. A sweet post, Shaina. That is super sweet that you finally made Ole his pie.

    Right now I am thanking my lucky stars that I picked up some buttermilk at the grocery store today – and that I have three perfectly ripe pears on the buffet.

  5. Shaina, your writing made me tear up. I love how much you love. Not just Ole, but all of us. Your heart is huge. That pie is made of more than butter and pears and flour and buttermilk – it’s made of love. Your family is so lucky to have you, and I am so lucky to call you friend. I hope things went well with Kjell.

  6. I bet that pie making was somewhat therapeutic…and hopefully there was a little milk left over to enjoy with it?

    Thinking of you all, love. A lovely post. A lovely pie. A lovely you. *Hugs*

  7. You totally rock the pie crust. I mean…makes me wanna stop what I’m doing right now and give it a go. Gorgeous.

    And the pie recipe looks mighty tasty too.

  8. Please come teach me how to make this pie:)

  9. so pretty! You’re posts are so breathtaking

  10. Buttermilk and Pears. Two of my father’s favorite things. I can’t wait to get a taste of this pie to him. AND I love how you braided the crust of the pie, such a simple step that looks pretty fancy and professional!

  11. Thank you soooooo much for posting this!!! Ok, you make it look really easy!!! I can’t wait to try crimping and/or braiding an edge on my next pie crust! I’ve been making my own crusts now for over a year but never knew how to make the edges look nice. My family didn’t seem to care because like you said, it still taste great, but now as my crusts have really started to come along, as have my pies, I’d like to share them with friends but the presentation is just too sad. lol. Now I have something to aspire to!!! I’ll try the crimping, but if that fails, I ought to be able to braid!!! ;o) THANKS AGAIN!!!

  12. This is a gorgeous pie, and a lovely post full of great tips. And, I hope that you are able to have a few moments free of trouble and worry sharing this pie with your hubby. :-)

  13. Buttermilk. I’m obsessed. You’re making me do the Homer Simpson drool gurgle over here.

  14. love this! I have some pears that I must use. so perfect

  15. That looks fantastic Shaina!! As someone who is severely incapable of producing a pretty pie… you have BLOWN ME AWAY with your talent!! Great job!

  16. Gorgeous, Shaina. Absolutely gorgeous!

  17. DAD GUM, woman – you can make a pretty pie. And I’d like to smash it into my face. Not in the dorky way though. The hungry way.

  18. I hope he enjoyed his pie, it looks beautiful.

  19. What a beautiful pie – I especially like the braided one. We do need to stop in the busyness of our lives to focus on the desires and needs of those closest to us. Thanks for the reminder.

  20. Just today I thought I want to make a buttermilk pie. LOVE the pie edge and that’s going on my next pie. Looks delicious.

  21. I’m glad you finally made the pie for Ole. And it’s one helluva good looking pie. Pear and custard? Heck yes! And although things have changed since you were first married, I hope you and your family share so many more pies like this around your family table. Really beautiful.

  22. What are the details/recipe for the pie crust for this pie??? and do you have to cook the pie crust before the cooking of the entire thing.. or…? I am a newbie at all this and I have read that some crusts you bake before a pie and some you don’t…? Please enlighten me. *hides face* lol

    ps. I could use another pie crust.. but some say cook prior.. some say don’t cook prior.. and depending on what this pie entails.. I have no clue basically. Sorry for the dumb questions…

  23. This is SO beautiful, Shaina! Okay, now that I’ve gotten a little experience with your all-butter pie crust maybe I can be ready for a braid next week for Thanksgiving. Now that I’ve seen it in action I don’t think I can resist at least trying. :-)

  24. I hope your journey to the Mayo Clinic was successful and that your holidays will be spent together with all those you love.

    I hope your husband appreciated and enjoyed your beautiful pie. Thank you for sharing your crimping tips. They were quite informative.

    I wish you and your family a safe, happy and healthy holiday!

  25. Girl! You are rockin’ that pie crust! I’m now head to the kitchen to give it a whirl, wish me luck :D PS: Sending you guys all of my love and I hope that your trip goes well love {{hugs}}

  26. Goodness girl, you are quite the skilled pie baker, I’m impressed!

  27. Girl, you have mad skills! These techniques are absolutely gorgeous. Love this post!

  28. Lovely pie. I hope all is well with your family.

  29. holy cow this looks absolutely amazing. I think I’ve figured out what I’m taking to thanksgiving for one of the desserts!

  30. sorry for all the posts. Did you add some pears to the top? in the directions it says to layer the pears at the bottom and I don’t see anything else about more throughout or on top but in the pictures it looks like there’s pear or something throughout and on top.

    • Hi, Marissa! This pie only has a bottom crust. It gets layered with pears (in the bottom of the pie plate) and then covered with the custard. It’s the layers of pears that form the top. Hope this helps!

  31. What a beautiful pie! Oh, my…one day I will make pies that look that lovely. It is on my baking goals list. And, you just truly inspired me to make it happen.

  32. I just have to say…that braided crust is gorgeous. And the pear pie sounds just dreamy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  33. I can just see how much love and thought you put into making this pie. It is absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing.

  34. That is one beautiful pie. I often make a pear tart with almond custard, but I’m curious to try buttermilk next – I imagine it’s a great combo.

  35. lovely pie!

  36. Love the pie crust technique and will in fact be using if tonight, so I’m thrilled I found your blog! But I’m actually writing for a different reason. When you wrote about rousing Kjell, my little heart smiled at that name! My mom’s maiden name is Kjellin. She named me after her maiden name, only she spelled it the way we Americans phonetically pronounce it. So I loved reading a Swedish name so close to my own! It’s not something I hear often!

  37. Wow what a beautiful pie, amazing lightness of touch with the pastry too, you make the braiding look so easy yet i know how hard it is!
    I don’t have any pears in so may substitue for apples, looks gorgeous thank you.

  38. Totally gorgeous pie crust! Those are amazing. Looks really delicious! :)

  39. Very Creative
    I would Love to Do this…. if I ever made my pie crust successfully

  40. Not sure why, but this made waaaaaaaaaaaay to much filling for me. I pulled out some of the pairs and put them in small souffle dishes and poured the rest of the custard over them. Not sad to have the extra…

  41. sorry..it’s been a long day. Lots of brain farts in this post…**too, **pears

    • Interesting. I wonder if it just had to do with the size of the pie plate. I made enough to comfortably fit in a deep dish 9″ plate. That said, I wished I had just a bit more filling, as I had a small lip before I got to the braided crust (you can see it in the picture). I’m glad you enjoyed the pie, though!

  42. Your buttermilk custard pear pie looks divine!

Trackbacks

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  14. [...] it out–it’ll be hard and heavy if you do. The cool shaping into braids idea came from Food For My Family. I saw her photo on Tastespotting and decided to try to recreate it the effect. It turned out to be [...]

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