Monday, August 18, 2014

Custard Pie with Caramelized Melon

Melon pie? When we were at the market, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf walked up with a Golden Delicious melon - it's a yellow honeydew in case you've never seen one - and announced that we should make a pie out of it.

"I don't know, Sweetheart. Let me think about that for a little bit. I don't think I've ever cooked a melon. We normally eat it fresh."

Mom, just make it happen. He insisted impatiently. I know you can come up with something good.

I couldn't decide if I should be flattered or annoyed by the little kitchen troll. But, as he knew he would, he got me thinking. I decided to try a custard pie with brûléed slices of the melon on the top.

While I'm pretty sure this wasn't what he had in mind, he did like that he got to use my butane torch! Fun, fun, fun.

We started with a custard pie...

For the pastry...
  • ½ C dark rye flour 
  • ½ C all-purpose flour
  • ¼ t sea salt
  • 1 ½ t organic granulated sugar
  • ½ t Pinot Grigio-Cherry vinegar 
  • 4 T ice water
  • 6 T butter 
For the custard and topping...
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • thin slices of melon
  • organic raw turbinado sugar

For the pastry...
Place the flour and cold butter in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size chunks of butter. Add vinegar, then the ice water 1 T at a time, until mixture just begins to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and cut again.

Note: too much water will make the crust tough. Once the dough comes together into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

After the dough has chilled for thirty minutes, roll out the pastry between two pieces of parchment paper. Then fold it in thirds to create layers. Wrap and chill again for another thirty minutes. Do this two more times.

Once you're ready to bake, roll out the pastry for a final time, forming a rustic 12-inch circle, adding more flour, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Transfer the crust to a baking pan and form the dough into a crust. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the crust for 30 minutes.

For the custard and topping...
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly beat the eggs with sugar, milk, and vanilla; whisk to combine thoroughly. Pour into pre-baked pie crust and sprinkle generously with freshly ground nutmeg. Bake at 425° for 25 to 35 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before arranging the melon slices on the top.

Sprinkle the slices with turbinado sugar.

With a butane torch, burn the sugar till it forms a nice, golden crisp. The Kitchen Elves took turns.

Serve immediately. It will keep, but the sugar will soften eventually.

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