Ambrosia Pudding Pie Recipe

Native Virginian and 10th President John Tyler's official claim to fame is annexing the Republic of Texas into the United States in 1845, but culinary folklore holds him in equally high esteem for his cream-rich custard pie, a family recipe. Following British tradition, the earliest custard pies were recorded as puddings in antebellum cookbooks. These egg-based puddings were often baked in a "puff paste"— pastry rolled and folded with butter multiple times. We added an ambrosial note with orange marmalade, crushed pineapple, and coconut custard.

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
9 hrs
Serves 8 (serving size: 1 slice)
Ambrosia Pudding Pie
Alison Miksch


Lemon Curd

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 4 lemons)

  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs


  • 3 cups (about 12 3/4 oz.) all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) cold salted butter, cubed

  • 1/2 cup cold shortening, cubed

  • 8 to 10 tablespoons ice water

Coconut Custard

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Additional Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet orange marmalade (such as Smucker's)

  • 1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, well drained

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  1. Prepare the Lemon Curd: Whisk together softened butter, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup sugar in a microwave-safe bowl until blended. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, whisking until blended after each addition. Gradually whisk in lemon juice until blended. (Mixture will look curdled.) Microwave on HIGH 2 minutes, whisking after 1 minute. Stir the mixture, and microwave on HIGH, stirring at 30-second intervals, just until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of warm curd (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 4 hours or up to 3 days.

  2. Prepare the Crust: Stir together 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut cold butter and shortening cubes into flour mixture until mixture resembles small peas. Using a fork, gradually stir in 8 tablespoons ice water, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened and dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from sides of bowl, adding up to 2 tablespoons more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Turn dough out onto a work surface; divide in half. Shape and flatten each dough half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill 1 to 24 hours.

  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Unwrap 1 chilled dough disk, and place on a lightly floured surface. Let dough stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle dough with flour, and roll into a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides 8 to 10 times with a fork. Freeze 20 minutes. Line piecrust with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in preheated oven 14 minutes. Remove weights and parchment paper, and bake until crust has lost its raw dough sheen, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

  4. Prepare the Coconut Custard: Whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add cream, vanilla, and 3 eggs, and whisk until blended. Stir in coconut until blended.

  5. Assemble the Pie: Spread orange marmalade over bottom of prepared piecrust; layer with crushed pineapple and Lemon Curd. Carefully pour Coconut Custard over Lemon Curd. Bake in preheated oven until center is set, 45 to 50 minutes, shielding edges with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Remove pie to a wire rack, and cool completely, about 3 hours.

  6. Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 425°F. Unwrap remaining chilled dough disk, and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle dough with flour, and roll into a 12-inch circle. Cut dough with 2-inch and 1-inch maple leaf-shaped cutters. Place leaves on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and brush with beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Arrange pastry leaves around edge of pie.

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