American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

American Classics: Cider Custard Pie

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[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Apple and pumpkin pie have won their spots as Thanksgiving staples, but making the same desserts year after year can grow tiresome. Sometimes you want to mix it up and play with tradition. If you aren't feeling quite bold enough to scrap apples entirely—Mock Apple Pie, anyone?—a velvety Cider Custard Pie might be just the ticket to escaping T-Day dessert doldrums.

The addition of boiled apple cider elevates a humble egg custard pie to a dessert that tastes much like a perfect bite of apples and whipped cream. Adapted from a collection of well-loved recipes collected by Hermine B. Horman in her book A Century of Mormon Cookery, Volume 2, I tweaked the recipe to cut down the added sugar so more of the tartness of the fruit shines through.

The key to Cider Custard Pie is patience. A quart of fresh cider is slowly simmered until it reduces down to just a cup of concentrated apple flavor. While many old fashioned custard pie recipes call for baking the crust and filling separately then "slipping" the custard seamlessly into place, there's no pre-baking required here, a major win in my book, especially with all the frenzy of preparing the rest of the Thanksgiving meal.

Custards require constant and even heat, so the hardest part may very well be having the self-restraint not to continually peek at the pie's progress and resist testing before it's ready. Whether it takes the place of regular old apple pie or shares the spotlight with its fruit filled cousin, a sliver of this subtle yet sophisticated cider custard makes for a unique addition to any Thanksgiving spread.

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Cider Custard Pie »

Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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