Monday, November 1, 2010

Egg Pie or Filipino Custard Pie

For an ordinary Filipino snack or “meryenda”, especially in the provinces, freshly baked goodies from the many neighborhood bakeries are probably the most easy to acquire and serve to your family and love ones. They are truly tasty, available daily, have many choices and reasonably priced. Come “meryenda” time or during coffee break, all you have to do is to visit the bakery closest to your residence, make your pick and you will be equipped with really fragrant, fresh from the oven and utterly delicious snack in a short period of time.

Among these easy baked “meryenda” of the Philippines is the sweet and luscious egg pie. A Filipino custard pie made from eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, lemon essence and sometimes butter. While egg pie is probably an authentic Filipino baked goodie, its delightful taste has a very close resemblance with that of the Portuguese and/or Chinese egg tart extremely popular in Macau and the common or plain custard pie of North America.

It has been quite a long time since I last made this exciting snack and dessert dish. I thought of making this again so that I can share it with you, especially with Filipinos living abroad whom at certain point in their life living in a foreign land will surely reconnect with the memories of their childhood and inevitably experienced cravings for the typical Filipino “panaderia” or bakery products, like “pandesal” (Filipino bread roll), “ensaymada” (sweet bread topped with cheese and sugar), Spanish bread (sweet bread with sugar and margarine filling), “pan de coco” (sweet bread with coconut filling), “mamon” (a chiffon cake type of soft bread), and of course the delicious egg pie. Yes, it always happens to me.

Making egg pie involves three distinct processes. First is preparing the crust, then mixing the pie filling and finally baking the pie. So expect this post to be quite long. Making this is not really hard but it’s tedious and time consuming. Buying one from the local baker would be a lot easier. However, in cases like mine and most Filipinos living abroad, we have no other recourse but to bake our own to ease the want. Here is how we are doing it.

The ingredients needed for the crust preparation are as follows: 1¼ cup all-purpose flour or wheat flour, ½ cup butter, softened, 1 tbsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and about 2 to 4 tbsp cold water.

In a wide bowl sift the flour. Add in sugar and salt and combine together. Cream the softened butter with the dry ingredients. Add about 2 tbsp of water. Continue mixing until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Lightly knead the dough until it just about comes together. Add small amount of water if necessary. Knead until the dough is smooth then form it into a ball.

Rest the dough ball. Wrap it with plastic or cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling ingredients. We need 4 medium eggs (or 3 large eggs), ½ cup butter, softened, 1 tall can of evaporated milk, ¾ cup fine sugar, ½ tbsp vanilla and ½ tbsp lemon essence.

In another mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add in evaporated milk and stir to dissolve sugar-butter mixture and combine with milk. Add egg one by one stirring after each addition. Stir properly to attain a well blended batter. Don’t worry if some butter will curdle and will not be totally incorporated into the mixture. (I’m wondering if we can omit butter in this recipe at all.)

Using a fine strainer, sieve the batter to remove the part that curdled out of the mixture.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 ˚C or 350 ˚F or gas mark no. 4. Take out the rested dough from the fridge. In a floured surface, knead the dough for a short while then flatten it thinly into a circle using rolling pin. Carefully transfer the pastry to a 9-inch pie pan and make sure to press the sides to fully line the pan. Decorate the edge of the pastry by pressing it with thumb and forefinger or using back of fork.

At this point, you can bake blind the pastry if you have time. But I usually skip this step. I’ll try it next time though.

Pour the batter into the pastry and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the custard is just firm and slightly brown.

To make the top of the pie a nice golden brown color, increase the heat to 200 ˚C and transfer the pie to the top notch of the oven. Bake for further 3 to 5 minutes until the color you like is achieved. Since we can no longer wait, as the smell is causing us to salivate, we did not bother to attain the nice brown colored top. :-)

Let the egg pie stand for a while to cool down. Cut it to your desired sizes and serve immediately as a snack in between meals or dessert after a meal. Our pie, prepared in more than 3 hours is gone in 3 minutes. Enjoy! c“,)

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