Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham, North Carolina makes cream pies all summer long that incorporate different fruits as they become available. This recipe works just as well with strawberries, peaches, cherries, or whatever is in peak season. It's also a great way to use fruit that is just beyond its usability, whether bruised or overly ripe. Most crumb crusts use cookie or cake crumbs, and not everybody has those lying around. Ground oats provide an easy and delicious base that most people have in their pantry.
- 1 1⁄2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
- 3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 1⁄4 cup cornstarch
- 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 2 cups blackberries, plus halved berries to garnish
- 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
Heat the oven to 375°. In a food processor, combine the oats with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the sesame seeds, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and process until oats finely ground. Transfer the oats to a bowl and then stir in 6 tablespoons of the butter until a crumbly dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie plate, and then freeze the pie crust for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a 4-qt. saucepan, combine the milk with the vanilla bean and seeds, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, about 5 to 7 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk 3⁄4 cup of the granulated sugar with the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, the cornstarch, and eggs and yolks until smooth. While whisking, slowly pour 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, and then scrape the eggs into the milk in the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook the custard, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the custard from heat, and whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Scrape the custard into a bowl and then let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the custard until chilled, at least 2 hours.
Bake the frozen crust until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. In a small bowl, toss the blackberries with the remaining 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar, and let stand for 5 minutes to macerate. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form.
To assemble, spoon the macerated blackberries on the bottom of the crust, and then spread the chilled custard over the berries, smoothing the top. Cover with the whipped cream, and garnish with halved blackberries.