The other day I picked up a new book called First Prize Pies and I am now obsessed with making pies. The book itself is fantastic because it really goes into depth on making a few different types of crust without being too pedantic and the pie fillings look amazing. Also the photography is glorious. But my favorite aspect is after she describes the basic techniques, the recipes are broken into months. So my plan is to bake a pie a week until I decide I can’t stand it anymore! I figure this way I can perfect my pie making abilities and have fun at the same time. Im thinking this is a win-win project. Plus the husband and kids are thrilled!
I decided to start with a buttermilk chess pie. If you have never heard of chess pie, it is essentially a plain custard pie that just tastes sweet. The reason it is called chess pie is (allegedly) it was created in the South and when you would ask a southern woman what kind of pie it was she would answer in a thick drawl, “jess pie” (just pie) which turned into chess pie.
I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of plain chess pie because I find it to be a bit boring and cloyingly sweet. But the book added some buttermilk which I thought would cut through the sweetness. I also decided to change the crust from a regular flour/butter to a cookie crust because we were going through an unusual May heat wave and I was positive there was no way I could keep the butter cold enough to make a decent crust.
So I used lemon cookies and melted butter to make the crust. After I baked it something strange, happened. The crust around the outside of the pie stayed put, but the bottom crust floated to the top! You can see it in the closeup above. Though unusual, it still tasted good and gave the top of the pie a delightful sort of crunchy mouth-feel! To cut the sweetness of the whole thing I decided to add strawberries to the top, but any berry would work.
Normally I wouldn’t print a recipe directly out of book (unless the chef already had it printed online) but because I significantly changed this recipe I am adding it here. With that said, I still think that if you like pies, this book is a must have.
Buttermilk Chess Pie With A Lemon Cookie Crust
- 2 cups lemon cookies crushed into tiny pieces. I used my food processor to pulverize them.
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp flour
- pinch of salt
In a bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and the melted butter. Mix together with a folk until all the crumbs are moistened. Dump into a pie dish and carefully press down and to the sides. The whole crust should be about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. I use the bottom of a glass to really make it flat. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and let cool.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and the sugar until light and fluffy. Then slowly add the buttermilk, lemon zest, flour, and salt. Pour into the crust and let bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. The middle should still be wobbly when you remove from the oven. Let it cool completely before serving.
Serve with fresh berries.