by Daniel Gasteiger
Two weeks ago during #gardenchat, I was finishing assembly and baking of a cherry and custard pie. When the pie came out of the oven it looked pretty sensational and I posted a photograph. Honestly, it wasn’t a great pie.
I’ve made terrific cherry and custard pies, but there was a major difference between this one and the terrific ones: this was a sweet cherry and custard pie. The really good ones had been sour cherry and custard.
Why Cherries and Custard?The cherry and custard pie idea arose when my wife made sour cherry jelly. To get cherry juice for jelly, you pit and cut up the cherries, boil them for ten minutes, and hang them in a jelly bag until the bag stops dripping. The juice comes out clear and makes delicious, tangy jelly. The jelly bag ends up with several cups of relatively juiceless cherry bits that I refer to as mash.
Hating to toss the mash, I used it to make a sour cherry pie as I would with whole cherries — except that I added far less flour to the fruit and sugar mixture that made up the pie filling. It was good, but the filling was very dense and kind of dry. So, the next time around I decided to make a cherry mash and custard filling.
That was the ticket! A small amount of custard added some volume and texture to the cherry mash, and the pie was delicious. I included the recipe in my book, Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too, by Cool Springs Press and I’ve posted how-to on my website: Cherry Mash and Custard Pie.
I used less sugar for the sweet cherry pie, and it looked gorgeous when it finished baking. Unfortunately, the pie was bland. It didn’t taste bad and the texture was good, but it had no bite. Sweet cherries lack the intensity of sour cherries, and the custard, I think, diluted their flavor.
So, I don’t yet have a ready-for-public-consumption recipe for sweet cherry mash and custard pie; I can’t tell you for sure how to make it taste so good that eating a slice is worth the calorie hit. At the same time, I know there must be several dynamite variations and I hope to come up with some of them eventually. Here are some things I plan to try in future filling mixes:
A healthy portion of ground cinnamon or nutmeg The juice of a lemon (or two) More cherry mash; less custard Rhubarb sauce stirred through A cup of fresh pineapple in place of a cup of cherry mash A cup of black raspberry syrup in place of the sugar and some of the milk A handful of star mint candies crushed and mixed through Here and now I can’t recommend that you make a sweet cherry and custard pie unless you also want to experiment. If you do, please let me know what works!
In my experience, the key to making a great cherry and custard pie is NOT to use sweet cherries. Start with sour cherries like the ones in this photo. Chop the cherries and juice them, and the remaining mash is terrific when you mix it with custard and bake it into a pie.
While my first sweet cherry and custard pie didn’t satisfy, I’ve ideas for several variations at least one of which I hope will deliver. For example, I like cherry/peppermint ice cream. Perhaps I’ll add crushed star mints the next time I have sweet cherry mash available to make pie.
About The Author:
Daniel Gasteiger (@cityslipper on Twitter) is a garden speaker and social media marketing trainer. He gardens in hardiness zone 6 in central Pennsylvania and writes about gardening and food for the Sunbury Daily Item. He blogs about growing and preserving produce at Your Small Kitchen Garden and he recently published the book Yes, You Can! And Freeze And Dry It, Too from Cool Springs Press.