Old-fashioned Custard Pie

Slice of Custard Pie on Plate

Sometimes the basics are best. For example, old-fashioned Custard Pie is a delightful, delicate pie that makes a perfect treat on hot summer days. The hundred-year-old recipe I used was easy to make, and only contained five ingredients: eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla extract.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Custard Pie
Source: The New Royal Baking Powder Cookbook (1920)

When I made the recipe, I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt. The one teaspoon of salt called for in the original recipe seemed like a lot. I couldn’t figure out why it was necessary to scald the milk prior to mixing with the other ingredients, so I skipped that step – and it worked fine. It did take longer for the filling to set than the recipe indicated. Maybe the time would have been reduced if I had scalded the milk first.

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Custard Pie

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Pour into pie shell.  Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° F.. Bake additional 50 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.


37 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Custard Pie

  1. I had to laugh when reading the ingredients to the custard and saw that 1 tsp of salt–said to myself, Sheryl will say that seemed like a lot, and she will reduce it. It does seem like a lot to me, too! My grandmother used to make custard pie a lot. I think scalding the milk was because a lot of milk was fresh from the cow then–not pasteurized like now. I can recall my grandmother scalding milk for almost everything she baked. In South Africa they call custard a Milk Tart and it was my favorite–the store across the street from our flat had them and I bought one every few days!

    1. Your comment made me smile. I guess that I’m becoming predictable. It makes sense that people may have scalded milk more back in the days when raw milk was commonly used.

  2. The explanation above seems reasonable about scalding milk. I wonder if it is still necessary since I still find recipes that ask for it and I duly comply.

    1. I did do a little looking, and while killing bacteria was the original reason, apparently, it also helps with the heating process in making custards, helps in bread making to activate the yeast, and keeps something (gluten?–I forgot) from making the bread tough. Bottom line in most things I found was if a recipe called for scalding the milk, do it; it is worth the effort. Since I learned to cook from my grandmothers and mother, I did it because they said so. 🙂

      1. Thanks for researching this. I’ll take the time to scald the milk the next time I make a recipe calling for it. Our mothers and grandmothers were very knowledgeable when it came to knowing sound cooking processes and procedures.

    2. As a result of reader’s comments, I’ve learned why milk should be scalded, and definitely will scald milk the next time I make a recipe that calls for it. I am so fortunate to have wonderful readers who share their information and knowledge.

    1. Thanks for sharing the link. It’s wonderful to read your old letters from when you were in England. It’s nice to hear that my posting of my grandmother’s diary helped you come up with this idea.

  3. One of my all-time favorite old fashioned pies is custard pie. Interesting how there’s no nutmeg in this recipe. I thought that was *always* part of custard. 🤔

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