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Mealy pie crusts are among the sturdier of crust styles. As a result, they are easy to make, and they hold up to just about any filling. It's a fine choice for custard pies, quiche and most fruit pies, such as berry or apple. In this crust, the fat is worked uniformly into the flour, which allows it to be rolled out, moved and crimped easily.

This custard pie filling is reminiscent of a classic egg custard crossed with a butterscotch pudding. Serve with whipped cream dusted with freshly grated nutmeg.

> Mealy Pie Crust

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup whole milk

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the sugar, salt and flour. Add the butter and oil, then pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle in the milk and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Separate the dough into two even lumps, then gently squeeze each into a disc about 1-inch thick. Wrap each in plastic, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When ready to make the pie, on a lightly floured surface roll one of the discs into a 13-inch circle. Always roll from the center of the disc and turn frequently to prevent sticking.

Fold the dough in half, then again to form quarters. Lift the triangle of dough into your pie pan, putting the folded point in the center of the pan. Gently unfold the dough to cover the whole pan. You should have a generous overhang once the dough is all settled into the corners of the pan.

If using a top crust, fill the bottom crust with your pie filling as directed, then repeat the rolling, folding and moving technique with the other disc of dough.

Trim the overhang of dough to 1/2 -inch beyond the edge of the pan. Fold the edge of the dough under itself, pinching to seal. Using either a fork or your fingers, crimp the edge of the dough around the pie and against the top of the pie pan.

If using a single crust recipe, fill your pie after crimping the edges of the crust. Bake as directed for your pie recipe. Yield: Makes 2 crusts (for 1 double-crust pie or 2 single-crust pies).

> Butterscotch Custard Pie

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3 whole eggs

1 egg yolk, white reserved

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon rum (optional)

3 tablespoons butter

1 uncooked mealy pie crust, bottom only

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs and egg yolk.

In a small pan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Slowly pour the hot milk into egg mixture while beating continuously. Stir in the salt, vanilla, rum (if using) and butter.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Using a pastry brush, paint the bottom and inner sides of the crust with the egg white; this helps prevent sogginess. Pour the custard mixture into the crust.

Bake the pie for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the mixture is set and just barely jiggles in the center. Allow to cool at room temperature. Leftovers should be refrigerated. Servings: 8.