Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Buttermilk Chess Pie

Let's be honest. I don't buy a lot of cookbooks these days. I get a lot of books for review, and there are only so many hours in a day and only so many burners on the stove and only so many feet of floor space where I can pile unread books.

So I don't need to buy a whole lot of books.

However, I did buy The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day. Well, technically I guess I didn't buy it since I used a gift card and not money that I earned, but the book didn't come from the publisher or PR people. And I could have used that gift card to buy a vat of lard or something.

Anyway, I like the idea of classic, old-time recipes, and this book certainly seemed to fit that category. In no time at all, I had bookmarked cinnamon-sugar-doughnut muffins, baked eggs, cinnamon - sour cream coffee cake, buttermilk chess pie, butter mints, and rustic cheddar pecan rounds ... just for starters.

I picked Buttermilk Chess Pie for my first try. For one thing, I had buttermilk on hand that I bought for a different recipe. For another, I'd heard of chess pie, but I'd never made one. It sounded like it was about time to make one.

I used my own pie crust rather than one in the book, but otherwise I followed the directions.

Except ... oops! I overcooked the pie. Not the fault of the recipe, but the fault of my inattention. Although it was obviously overcooked, it was still pretty darned tasty, which is a credit to the recipe. It was sweet, tart, creamy, and lemony. It wasn't as sort of smooth as it should have been, but I caught it before it was curdled and ruined.

Buttermilk Chess Pie
Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook bu Cheryl Day and Griffith Day

Oops. A little over-baked. but still good.
1 pie crust, unbaked
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons room temperature butter
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Pin of salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Have the pie crust (home made or store bought) ready in a pie plate. Let it rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Have a rack in the lower third of your oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can use a hand mixer) cream the sugar and butter until light in color. I never got it to "cream" at all - the sugar remained fluffy and sandy. But I continued, anyway.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour, cornmeal and salt and beat until well combined.

Add the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix until combined.

Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, then pour the filling into the crust. Place the pie into the oven on that bottom rack and bake for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 degrees and bake for and additional 45 to 55 minutes, until the custard is golden brown and set around the edges but the center is still jiggly. It will firm up as it cools.

Let the pie cool at least 2 hours before slicing. Store in the refrigerator.