Originally published April 6, 2011.
Pie is the new cupcake. Did you know that? That’s why I’ve spent the last month turning out my favorite pies for my family – from Pie Lab’s Apple Cheddar Pie to my favorite Sweet Potato Custard Pie – it’s so nice to be able to announce that there is pie for dessert. I love this buttermilk chess pie recipe, and each time I make it, I think of that Southern tradition of drinking buttermilk, a drink I’m convinced you have to grow up on to appreciate.
My last quarter at the University of Georgia in Athens, I rented a room in an elderly woman’s house. Mrs. Willson was a widow and her only daughter lived in Columbus. This was, sigh, more than a couple years ago, and only a few memories rise to the surface – her red brick ranch house with the laundry room off the carport, the old-fashioned medicine cabinet with a slot for dull razor blades, and the refrigerator that she allowed her boarders to share, giving us each our own corner of a shelf. She hid her beer in the back of the fridge, small baby bottles behind the mayonnaise and pickle jars. Mrs. Willson also liked buttermilk and cookies as an evening snack. I always accepted the Grandma’s oatmeal cookies, but declined the buttermilk.
Buttermilk is the Secret
To this day, I keep buttermilk in the fridge, but never for drinking straight. It’s the base for ranch dressing with the fresh herbs from the CSA box; it makes a moist banana bread; superlative biscuits (if you use White Lily flour); and this thoroughly excellent Chess Pie.
Chess pie is the first pie I learned to bake. As a new bride, I subscribed to Southern Living magazine for the recipes and the decorating ideas. My husband picked up an issue and remarked that he always liked chess pie. All these years later, he still says nice things about this pie, so it’s stayed in my tried and true file. This pie is plenty sweet even though I cut the sugar in the original recipe by one-fourth. Take your coffee black with a slice of this pie.
How to Make a Buttermilk Chess Pie
Buttermilk Chess Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add eggs and buttermilk, stirring until blended. Stir in melted butter and vanilla and pour into unbaked pie crust.
3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack at least an hour before serving. Store leftovers, well-wrapped in refrigerator.
Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.
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