Cantaloupe Pie

I’ve not made this recipe several times so it is not quite fair to advertise it as a “favorite” or to claim that it is “easy”. Before making this pie, I suggest consulting a good cookbook, such as Joy of Cooking,  to learn the basics of custard pie making. With that caution given to novice pie makers, my aunts will have no trouble making it and are expected to serve it proudly to their summer guests.

Luke Murden, Whole Foods Mid-Atlantic Region Cooking Coach developed this recipe while restaurant cheffing. As cooking coach, Luke promotes the preparation of honest home cooked meals. Many of Luke’s examples are drawn from the Food52.com and WholeFoods.com recipe troves but this one is an original. I have adopted his presentation for this page from his handout.

You may reach Luke at luke.murden@wholefoods.com

Tools

To make this pie requires the following tools.

  • Oven
  • Sauce pan, 2 to 3 quarts to hold the filling
  • Chef’s knife large enough to open a cantaloupe
  • Scoop tool to remove cantaloupe meat from the rind
  • Small mixing bowl to combine dry ingredients
  • Large mixing bowl in which to prepare the custard base
  • Pie pan

Ingredients

Luke cautions that careful measurements matter when baking so level measure for the dry ingredients.

  • 9 inch Graham cracker pie crust (can be store bought)
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 8 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks (reserve whites for merengue if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 tablespoon butter flavored extract

Method

  1. Select a cantaloupe of good quality (good luck with that). Cut in half, remove seeds and discard. Scoop the pulp into a sauce pan over medium heat (5). Bring the pulp to a medium boil and mash it up with a potato masher as it heats. This step should yield 2 cups of cantaloupe meat.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and flour dry and mix well. Add the dry mixture to the heated cantaloupe and cook, stirring, until thick.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, add water to yolks. Add a little of the cantaloupe mixture to gently pre-heat the egg mixture.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the cantaloupe mixture. Continue cooking, stirring, until thick and creamy. Remove from heat once thickened.
  5. Add butter and butter flavoring.
  6. Pour into the pie shell and allow to cool.
  7. Garnish with whipped cream or merengue if desired.

Commentary

If you are experienced making custard pies, this recipe appears to be straightforward. There is judgement needed to know when things are sufficiently thick as Luke gives no times or temperatures.

I expect that a soft fleshed garden canteloupe will be easier to work with than those grown in Florida or California for the transcontinental truck trade. Truck trade melons tend to have rock-hard flesh that can survive the rigors of a cross-country truck trip but  will probably prove difficult to scoop. Try the scallop rinded style (“Tuscan”) that tend to have softer flesh for this recipe.

Note that the butter is added once the custard is made up. I suspect that this is important to the custard forming properly during the cooking phase.

Luke served samples with whipped cream. The flavor is delicate and with the contrast between the Graham crust and the mild custard being dramatic. The first impression is of pumpkin pie but the flavor is milder and the texture smoother, more like a lemon custard or key lime pie but not with the overpowering sweetness of those. The pie has a nice cantaloupe finish that follows the crust flavors.

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