Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Custard Pie
Victor Garzon

Of all the custard pies, coconut custard is the most popular in the United States. When we first started selling pies at the Hester Street Fair, before opening our Delancey Street shop, this was one of four core flavors we had on the menu. It was a hit with older customers, who remembered seeing coconut custard pies at restaurants in their youth but hadn’t had a good one in years.


  • 3⁄4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • Scant 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2⁄3 cup (165 ml) heavy cream
  • 3⁄4 cup (180 ml) evaporated milk (canned or homemade; see recipe on page Pie for Everyone, 230)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla  
  • 3⁄4 cup (65 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 bottom crust, crimped and par-baked (1⁄2 recipe any crust type; see below for Butter Pastry Dough or Pie for Everyone pages 50, 52, and 60)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks until smooth. Add the heavy cream in a thin stream, whisking constantly, followed by the evaporated milk and vanilla. Spread the shredded coconut on the bottom of the par-baked crust before pouring in the custard filling. The coconut will rise up and float on the surface.
  3. Place the par-baked crust on a baking sheet and pour in the filling, making sure to scrape the entire contents from the sides of the bowl into the pie. Gently cover the crimped crust with a strip of foil or a pie crust protector.
  4. Bake on the lowest rack for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 35 minutes more, or until the center of the pie has puffed up. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and allow the pie to cool completely.
  5. Serve the pie at room temperature. It will keep for up to 1 week, covered, in the fridge.
Butter Pastry Dough
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) boiling water
  • 1½ loosely filled cups (180 g) pastry flour, from the freezer
  • ⅔ loosely filled cup (80 g) all-purpose flour, from the freezer
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/225 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch (12-mm) pieces
  • Extra flour, for rolling
Making Dough with a Grater
  1. Stir the sugar, salt, and water together in a small bowl until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Place the bowl in the freezer—the liquid needs to be ice cold before it is added to the dough.
  2. Put the flour(s) in a large bowl. Position the grater directly over the bowl. Grate the butter or lard right into the flour, shaking the bowl every so often to coat the fat in flour. Make sure you don’t leave any of the fat inside the grater. Toss to fully coat the pieces of fat in flour.
  3. Sprinkle the ice-cold sugar-salt solution over the fat and flour. Use your fingers to lightly toss the contents of the bowl around to disperse the liquid.
  4. Squeeze the shaggy mess with your fists, repeatedly and quickly, until the chunks get bigger and more cohesive.
  5. At first it will be crumbly and seem as if it won’t come together, but with continued compression, you can begin to make two mounds of dough of roughly equal size. Flatten your mounds into 1-inch- (2.5-cm-) thick disks.
How to Roll a Dough Sheet and Make a Bottom Crust
  1. Prepare a clean, dry, nonporous surface by sprinkling it with the flour appropriate for your choice of dough.
  2. Place a disk of dough on top of the floured surface and sprinkle it with a little more flour. Place your rolling pin in the center of the dough and roll away from yourself with firm, even pressure, but not enough force to squish the dough. As you approach the edge of the dough, use a little less pressure so that it doesn’t become too thin on the edges.
  3. Rotate the dough about 45 degrees. Place the rolling pin at the center of the disk and roll away from yourself once again.
  4. Continue to rotate and roll, adding more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface and/or the rolling pin, until you’ve rolled the dough to approximately ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick. If the dough starts to split on the edges, you can gently press it back together before continuing to roll it out. The finished sheet of dough should be roughly 12 inches (30.5 cm) in diameter.
  5. Transfer the sheet of dough into a pie pan, centering it so that you have at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of extra dough all the way around the edges of the pan. While transferring, support the dough with your fingers spread out, in order to distribute the weight and prevent breakage.
  6. Alternatively, put your hand and wrist under the silicone mat along the center line of the dough circle and pick it up, letting one half of the circle hang on one side of your hand, and the other half of the dough circle hang on the other side.
  7. Lay one half of the dough along the center line of the pie pan, then fold the other half over so the silicone mat is lying over the top, then remove the mat.
  8. Once the sheet of dough is in the pan, ease it into the corner where the base of the pan meets the sides.
  9. In order to do this without stretching or breaking the dough, lift the edge of the dough with one hand to allow it to fall into place while gently pressing it into the corner with the other.
How to Make a Crimped Bottom Shell
  1. After transferring your dough sheet into the pie pan, lift the edge of the dough up to make a raised, hollow area, about ⅜ inch (1 cm) or a little less than ½ inch (12 mm) high, over the edge of the pie pan, pressing the excess dough against the rim of the pie pan to trim it. This will give you enough dough to form a decorative edge.
  2. Then position the thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand so that there’s about ½ inch (12 mm) of dough between them, and push them gently into the edge of the crust, right over the rim of the pie dish, while simultaneously using the forefinger of your dominant hand to push the dough from the opposite side into the space between your thumb and forefinger.
  3. Shift your non-dominant hand so that your thumb is now in the spot that your non-dominant index finger just occupied, and repeat the same motion. Continue all the way around the edge of the pie. The rounded edges that result from this method prevent the burning that would otherwise happen if you pinched the dough into thin, sharp points.
How to Par-Bake a Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Line the pie shell with a circle of parchment paper. Add dry beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights to reach about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the crust.
  3. Bake the shell for 20 minutes. Let cool, then carefully remove the pie weights and parchment paper.

Reprinted from Pie for Everyone by Petra Paredez with permission by Abrams, 2020.

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