The calendar may say 10/3, but for me it’s catch-up day. I’m running a tad behind on my make-a-pie-a-day plan for October, so I’m taking this Sunday to get the first three pies baked and posted. Starting tomorrow 10/4, I’ll continue in proper daily-made fashion. First up is Buttermilk Pie, an old-timer which was surely edged over to the sidelines by the move away from d.i.y.-dairying during the second half of the twentieth century. My maternal grandparents’ dairy farm in Piedmont North Carolina supplied them with raw milk and magnificently rich sweet cream, which they turned into pastuerized milk, butter, and its byproduct, buttermilk. My grandfather’s routine afternoon snack was a tall glass filled with chunks of crumbled-up cornbread left over from Grandmother’s enormous farmhouse lunch (known then as ‘dinner’ but that’s another story), and filled to the brim with cold buttermilk. He used a long-handled spoon to mix the treat to his liking, and then savored it standing at the kitchen window, gazing out past the pecan tree into the farmyard. Grandaddy didn’t have much use for sweets, and I never have come far beyond my childhood sense of awe and alarm that someone I loved could devour something I found so sour and strange with such contentment and pleasure. Buttermilk Pie puts it together for me — the dense, refreshing quality that I imagine Grandaddy found in his glass of cornbread baptized in buttermilk, and the sweet-sour creamy goodness of a classic pie that is earning back its place on the favorite-pies table.
Recipe for Nancie’s Buttermilk Pie
October 1, 2010
This pie is so simply stirred into being that the hardest part may be finding buttermilk. It’s widely available in supermarkets, and makes a delicious alternative to milk in all kinds of baking, particularly cornbread, biscuits, and pancakes.
1 unbaked 9-inch piecrust
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine sugar and flour in a medium bowl, and mix them well using a fork or a whisk.
In another medium bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork or a whisk. Add the buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla, and stir to mix everything together well. Add the sugar-flour mixture and stir well until everything is combined into a smooth mixture. Pour this filling into the piecrust, and bake in the 425 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F, and then baked until the pie’s edges puff up, and until the pie is almost firm, with just a little wiggling at the center when you shake the pan gently; about 25 to 30 minutes. Set the pie on a cooling rack, or onto a folded kitchen towel and let it cool to room temperature.
Makes 1 9-inch pie
(Adapted from Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, Chronicle Books October 2010)