Coconut custard pie brings old-time baking pleasure home and makes a simple, delicious dessert for friends and family, for guests, or for taking along to a potluck, a party, or an event at work or school.
Easy-to-find ingredients, simple methods, everyday equipment: It’s a fine everyday homemade treat.
Start with a single round of pastry dough. You can make piecrust from scratch, or purchase prepared piecrust in the refrigerator case or buy a frozen unbaked pie shell at most grocery stores.
If you like to pre-bake your piecrusts, do that. If not, you don’t need to do it. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I left this plain-edged crust pie in the oven for 50+ minutes, because I wanted that bottom-crust insurance, and it was fine. Cakes won’t take the heat, but I find that pies like this don’t mind.
See how speedy and easy this recipe is? Eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla meet flour, sugar, and salt for a quick stirring session. Add shredded coconut, stir one more time, pour it in the shell and bake it less than an hour.
Coconut keeps well, and the other ingredients are standard for me, so it’s a pantry-pie, one I can make on a whim, without a store-expedition. Coconut keeps well in the freezer once opened, so I buy big bags, and transfer extra to an airtight bag in the freezer. Or keep small pacakages unopened on the pantry shelf.)
I found so many old-school pies to fit this description while I was working on my cookbook featuring pies of the American South. There were plenty of ways to fuss and get fancy back in the day (meringue!), but a great number of beloved and memorable old-time pies call for ordinary, findable, keep-on-hand-able ingredients and they can be mixed together with a fork! I think that is where the expression Easy-As-Pie comes from.
I made this lovely pie twice recently, so you will notice two different crusts here. The one with fork marks (my grandmother’s way, which I adore) is a store-bought crust, and the plain edged pie is my homemade crust.
The plain-edged pie stayed in the oven a little longer, because I wanted to be sure the center-bottom portion of the crust got done. This meant that the top got a little browner, but in a good way. You could cover it with foil once it gets to a point you like if concerned about that, but I loved it both ways.
This pie is all about textures and simple pleasures. The creamy custard underneath and the crisp, nutty, handsome layer of coconut which stays right on top: Double delights. Even though you stir in the coconut completely, it floats to the top, so you get smooth and crunch both. No worries, this pie knows what to do!
You’ll see that I used a heatproof glass pie pan, the standard height 9-inch size, not a deep dish pie pan here. You could use a deep-dish pie plate if that’s all you have, but don’t bring the crust all the way to the top because the filling will leave a big pastry gap on the sides. That could work but might collapse or sag.
This type of pie (chess pie, buttermilk pie, egg custard pie, brown sugar pie, syrup pie, sugar cream pie and more) is not a “tall-order” kind of dessert. It’s a small-is-beautiful kind of dessert, and one to add to your repertoire. One pie can be big generous pieces like these, or smaller servings, making it go a long way at a party where there are many desserts to choose from.
I think yours might get chosen quite a bit at such a gathering, and you might go home with an empty dish. That is a good thing, right? Because you, for one, now know how easy it is to make another one, and because you take home the satisfaction of seeing people find delight in your contribution!
- 1 unbaked round of piecrust dough (or a crumb crust)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 3 eggs, beaten well
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, or unsweetened coconut; can be grated or flaked
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Line a standard 9-inch pie pan with pastry then crimp the edges decoratively..
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt, and stir with a whisk or a fork to combine well..
- In a large bowl, combine milk, melted butter, beaten eggs, and vanilla, and stir to mix them well.
- Pour the sugar-flour mixture into the milk-eggs mixture in the large bowl, and then stir and scrape the bowl to mix everything evenly and well.
- Add the coconut, and mix well one more time; then pour the filling into the piecrust.
- Place the pie on the bottom rack of the 325 degree F oven and bake until the filling is firm, dry, puffing up, and golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature.