All Hail King of Thanksgiving: The Hawaiian Custard Pie


 

 

When people think of Thanksgiving they usually think of the ever traditional Pumpkin pie! I mean, I clearly recall being a child growing up in Hawai'i and salivating over my moms homemade pumpkin pies baking in the oven.

There really is nothing like that feeling---I am actually getting very nostalgic as I write this article. The fabulous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the TV while the sweet smells of Thanksgiving pies mixed with the savory smells of a perfectly roasted Turkey, stuffing and my mothers glorious baked beans and sweet potatoes permeate the home---ahhh there is nothing like Thanksgiving!

My mom already knew my obsession with that pumpkin pie was intense, so she would always bake an extra one so I could have it later---yup---just me, that pie and a fork---DON'T JUDGE ME, I was 5!

But at a young age I would notice my mom and my brother Jimmy eating the "other" pie----the custard pie from Deluxe Pastry Shop.

Yes, I have previously referenced this 'onolicious bakery from heaven that operates in my beautiful hometown of Kane'ohe next to a laundromat which probably isn't there anymore because of Covid.  Read about it more in my blog post from last year: Aloha, Howzit and Hello! 

But I digress...back to my brother and mom eating this creamy looking pie. I think because I was young and my tastebuds hadn't evolved past Tombstone frozen pizza and Chef Boyardees Mini ravioli that I was unable to move past the pumpkin and into the custard.

But somewhere around 12 years old I shed my inexperienced and uncultured self and decided to "chance 'um" (a frequented local Hawaii term meaning take a chance) and sample this pie that my mom and brother Jimmy would always eat; because let's face it---they were never wrong with food.

One bite and my tastebuds and mouth were singing the Hallelujah Chorus---it was as if Jake Shimabukuro decided to go off on his rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody---except in my mouth.

This eventually lead me to be one of Deluxe Pastry Shops best customers as I basically bought 1 custard danish every day they were open and hadn't run out of product yet (yeah they are that kind of bakery and eventually if we ever have a brick and mortar we want to be that kind of bakery too.) My Aunty Helene swears by their long johns. Everything about this place is life---from their obscure swinging screen doors to their small confined store of just 2 cases and a shelf in the back with only so many pies for the day!

Is Deluxe Pastry Shop the only place to buy this pie or these custard pastries?---not at all! Other strong contenders are Kane'ohe Bakery, which is ironically a stone's throw away from Deluxe Pastry and is noted more than Deluxe for their custard pie but I'm sorry I am a loyal soldier to Deluxe. To me Kane'ohe Bakery makes some mean chocolate raised donuts, cakes and cottage bread.

Another is the king of Chinatown, Lee's Pastry---mmmmm a warm custard pie from Lee's just requires one thing---my fork!

Last but not least---the King of all bakery King's...Liliha Bakery whose custard pie I have seen my Aunty Ro gravitate to.

In my humble research it seems that somewhere between the Portuguese and Chinese immigrants this pie came along. I don't think the world really appreciates the amazing pastry capabilities of the Portuguese and Chinese. Custard runs in their blood.

But local Hawaiian custard pie (one's found at all the bakeries listed above) is unique as it is less eggy and much creamier and silky than mainland or haole custard pie---and that is probably because we use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream or regular milk.

In fact, my mom uses evaporated milk (can cream as she says) in a lot of her baked goods---and my mom is a baking and cooking legend so I always defer to whatever she does.

So if you have not yet had the King of Thanksgiving pies, the Hawaiian Custard pie, or one of our others: Cinnamon Custard and Coconut Custard---give it a try. I love it warm, but many eat it cold for breakfast the next day---it is multi meal purposed.

Don't forget to make your Thanksgiving pie orders as we will be limiting it at some point! We have a wide variety of local Hawaiian greats to choose from and may be the closest you'll get to Hawai'i for the year!

Malama Pono,

Michelle "Ehu"