Growing up, my best friend's mom would make the most amazing sweet treat I had/have ever tasted: a buttermilk chess pie. She would make them on Sunday and we would race over to indulge after church. She would make them for the bake sales and I would save my allowance/beg my parents for money so I can be the one to buy them. My dad and I have always loved these and at family dinner last Sunday, we had the idea to make a buttermilk chess pie for Thanksgiving. I happened to have Mrs. Wainscott's infamous recipe and dad insisted on having it as well, which then led to the idea of a bake-off to see who can make the better pie. From the same recipe. Hmm.
My best attempts of luring my younger brothers to sabotage the oven aside, we both ended up having issues - I thought it was the curse I felt I had of being a horrible baker, but when I called mom early Thursday morning, the dialogue was as follows:
Mom: "so, how's your pie?" (hesitation in her voice)
Katie: "Mine is fantastic.... how is your pie?" (trying to bluff and disguise my hesitation)
Mom: "Ours is great. Are you sure yours is fantastic?"
Katie: "Is it normal for it to be kinda.... jiggly?"
Mom: "Well, we are on our third attempt!"
I'm so glad we had 2 pie crusts because that's when we tried it again, this time trying a different method that I think is essential in the baking of a chess pie. I give you the best buttermilk chess pie recipe! For those of you who have not had it before, it's a little slice of southern hospitality meets sweet gooey heaven.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablspoons of flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 eggs slighty beaten
- 1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 9" or 10" unbaked pie shell
our attempt at "healthy" pie shells - it was really good!
Now, here is the part that I felt made a difference between pie attempt 1 and pie attempt 2 - our original recipe instructed to bake the pie for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Googling different recipes, we found that many called for the pie to bake at a high heat for certain amount of time, then on a lower heat for the remaining time. So, we baked at 450 for 10 minutes, and then turned it down to 350 to bake for an additional 40 minutes. This made a huge difference and our pie set properly the second time. When there were about 15 minutes left to bake, I noticed the top was looking pretty brown so I tented aluminum foil and put that over top so that the top of the pie did not burn, but it would continue to cook.
Once done, give it a jiggle. If you can see it move underneath the top layer, it is not ready and needs to go back in. If it is firm, you can let cool on a wire rack then eat it either hot or cold. We let cool for about an hour then put it in a carrier to transport the hour to my aunt and uncle's house, then set it in their cooling drawer until we were ready for dessert.
The pie on the left is dad's pie, pie on the right is mine - mine was damaged in the transport, the foil I had put over it took off the top. Dad's did not set completely the third time around and had a pudding consistency, still very good, but I think I took the prize on this one!