To kick off the new year, I was asked to make a breakfast pie recipe. Hmm, a breakfast pie? Quiche would be easy but too predictable, so I decided to go with sweet over savory.
My family loves oatmeal and eggs, and cream works for breakfast, right? So, my head went straight to a pie I’ve eaten many times in Washington D.C. while visiting my son in college. It’s from Momofuku’s Milk Bar and it’s called “Crack Pie.” It took me a few times to get the recipe just right, but it has been well worth the effort. If you follow these directions I’m sure you’ll get perfect pies the first time.
Oh my goodness, this pie is crazy good! It might just change your thoughts on pie crust. Move over graham cracker crust, oat cookie crust is the king of crust now. The interior of the pie is a sweet, gooey custard that condenses into the cookie crust creating a candy bar consistency with slight caramel flavor. Remember, even though you’ll feel like you’re indulging in dessert, in reality, this recipe is eggs and oatmeal, cream butter and sugar… all part of a good breakfast, right!?
If I have one piece of advice, it’s to not be intimidated by this recipe. At first glance, there are several ingredients, but the process is pretty easy and the ingredients are simple. Most of them are probably already in your pantry.
There are three steps. First, you make the oat cookie that will be used to make the crust. Then you make the filling. Finally, you combine everything to make the pie.
You might note that this pie is best served cold, so if you are serving it for breakfast, you’ll want to make it the day before. It doesn’t last long in my house. As I write this there is only one piece left. It really is easy to make the parts ahead of time. The hardest part is waiting for it to get cold.
Milk Bar Breakfast Pie
Makes two 9 or 10-inch pies.
For the Oat Cookie
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup flour, plus 1 tablespoon
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
For the Filling
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk powder
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 egg yolks
For Finishing the Pie
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 batch of Oat Cookies (see recipe above)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 batch of Pie Filling (see recipe above)
- Dusting of confectioner’s sugar
For the Oat Cookie
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
- On a lower speed, add egg yolk. Increase the speed back up to a medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white color.
- On a lower speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix for 60-75 seconds until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients are incorporated. Your dough will still be a slightly fluffy mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
- Spray and line a quarter sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat. Plop the oat cookie dough in the center of the pan and with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4″ thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan, which is okay. Bake the oat cookie at 350°F for 15 minutes.
- Cool completely before using in the pie recipe.
For the Filling
- In the microwave, gently melt the butter 15-second intervals. Make sure it is not hot to the touch.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed, mix together the dry ingredients until they are evenly distributed.
- Add the melted butter to the mixer and paddle until all the dry ingredients are moist.
- Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until the white color from the cream has completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Add the egg yolks to the mixer, paddling them to combine. Be careful not to over-paddle and aerate the mixture.
To Make the Pie
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- In a microwave, gently melt your butter on a med/low setting for 15-30 seconds. Let it cool so that it is not hot to the touch.
- Put the oat cookie, brown sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse on and off until the cookie is broken down into wet sand consistency. (If you don’t have a food processor, simply crumble the cookie with your hands.)
- Transfer the cookie crumbs to a bowl. With your hands, knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until the contents of the bowl are moist enough to form into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, gently melt an additional 15-25 grams of butter and knead it into the oat crust mixture. Divide the oat crust evenly over two 10″ pie tins
- Using your fingers and the palm of your hand, press the oat cookie crust firmly into both 10-inch pie shells. Make sure the bottom and the walls of the pie shells are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately or, wrapped in plastic, store the pie shells at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Place both pie shells on a sheet pan. Divide the pie filling evenly over both crusts. The filling should fill the crusts 3/4 full. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. During this time, the crack pie will still be very jiggly but should become golden brown on top.
- At 20 minutes, open the oven door and reduce the baking temperature to 325°F. This will take 5-10 minutes. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven reads 325°F, close the door and finish baking the pie for 5 minutes.
- At 5 minutes, the crack pie should still be jiggly in the bulls-eye center, but not in the outer circle. If the crack pie is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven an additional 5 minutes at 325°F. If they start to get too dark, cover the tops loosely with foil or parchment while they finish baking.
- Gently take the sheet pan out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool at room temperature. You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer. Freeze your pie for as little as 3 hours or overnight to condense the filling into the dense final product-the signature of a perfectly executed milk bar pie.
- Wrap the pies if you are not serving them right away. Before serving, dust the pies with confectioner’s sugar through a fine sieve or the pinch of your fingers.