mix in a medium saucepan:
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
5-6 T. flour
3 c. milk
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour about 1/3 of the mixture into a heatproof bowl with 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten. (I use the Pyrex measuring cup that I used to measure the milk.) You must whisk the egg yolks the whole time you are pouring in the hot mixture.
Immediately pour the egg mixture back into the pan and return to a boil (this will be very fast). Cook for 1 additional minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 2 T. butter and 1 1/2 t. vanilla.
Prepare an ice bath. I plug up one side of my sink and put in lots of ice cubes and about 3 inches of cold water. Place the hot pan in the ice bath. (This cools the custard down more quickly.) Stir every 5 minutes or so to prevent a skin from forming on the custard. When it has reached room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
**To make a delicious chocolate cream pie, increase the sugar to 1 1/2 c. and add 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate when you add the milk.**
To assemble the pie, pre-bake a pie crust, let cool, and pour in the chilled custard. Top with a generous amount of whipped cream. Sprinkle with toasted coconut for coconut cream pie, chocolate shavings for chocolate pie. I have tried a lot of different pie crusts, but, truth be told, I am not a crust connoisseur. For me, the crust is just a vehicle for the filling. Lately, I have been using this recipe from the old Betty Crocker cookbook.
For a 9" pie crust:
Mix together 1 c. sifted flour, 1/2 t. salt. Cut in 1/3 c. shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with 2 T. ice water and quickly mix with fingertips. (You don't want to handle the dough too much or it will not be tender and flaky.) Gather the dough together and press firmly into a ball. Roll out into a circle about 1" larger than your pan. Fit pastry loosely into the pan -- avoid stretching to prevent shrinking. Crimp the edges and prick all over with a fork. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.