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This humble cream pie is the bee’s knees

  • PHOTO COURTESY NEW YORK TIMES

The allure of a homemade fruit pie is real. To turn out stellar pies showcasing summer’s ripest fruit, you want the ease of crumb crusts and chilled fillings.

Just about anything you can crush into crumbs, you can use for a no-roll crust. Graham crackers are an obvious choice, but not-too-sugary cereals — like the cornflakes included in this recipe — can build a tender, cookie-like foundation strong enough to hold rich, creamy fillings.

There are a few keys to producing an ideal crust. Make sure crumbs are blitzed into a uniform sandy powder before adding sugar and butter. A flat-bottomed measuring cup, preferably one with a fairly squared-off edge, works best for pressing the crumbs into an even layer. Start by compacting the sides first — it’s easier to knock edge crumbs back into the bottom than it is to work excess bits up the side of a buttery dish. Use your free hand to prevent the crumbs from spilling over the edge. Then, press the remaining crumbs firmly across the bottom of the plate, paying special attention to the corners where gaps can go unnoticed.

Once the pie is cool, fill as you like. For an even easier option, fill the cooled crusts with your favorite store-bought ice cream, letting it soften slightly before smoothing and freezing again.

Top any of the options with piles of sliced stone fruit (like the plums included in this recipe) or sweet summer berries, and you’ve turned a humble cream pie into a real showstopper.

Milk and honey pie with cereal crust

Ingredients for crust:

• 6 ounces cornflakes (about 5 cups)
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Ingredients for the filling:

• 4 large egg yolks
• 1 large egg
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 5 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup heavy cream

Ingredients for topping:

• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 pound ripe plums, pitted and sliced
• 1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)

Directions:

Make the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Combine cornflakes, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Add butter and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand.

Transfer cornflake mixture to a standard 9-inch pie plate. Using the bottom of a flat-bottomed measuring cup, press the mixture up the sides and into the bottom of the pie plate. Bake on the middle rack until dry and deeper golden brown, 25-30 minutes. (If the crust slumps or puffs while it bakes, gently press it back into place while still warm with the measuring cup and proceed.) Let cool completely.

Make the filling: Whisk the egg yolks, egg, honey, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream and place over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking continuously, until mixture thickens and starts to bubble, 4-7 minutes. Continue to cook, whisking continuously, for 1 minute more. Pour mixture into the cooled crust and spread in an even layer. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

To serve: Beat cream using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Dollop cream on top of pie, top with plums and drizzle with honey if desired.

Total time: 30 minutes, plus chilling; serves 8-10.

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