easy as pie

This past weekend was a very gray and rainy one.  I happen to love that kind of weather because it allows me to not feel guilty for staying in and being a bit of a bum– sweatpants, movies on the couch, the whole nine yards.  It also, on occasion, puts me in the mood to bake up a storm which is exactly what I did on Sunday.  I bake three (THREE) pies and am going to share one of them with you now.

A buttermilk pie appears to be a cousin to chess pie which I happen to love and have now made three different versions of.  The main difference is that you add the titular ingredient.  Clearly.

The most difficult part of the whole ordeal is making the crust look pretty.  I’m quite pleased with how the double knuckle crimping action turned out.

After whisking up the buttermilk with some eggs, melted butter, sugar, a little flour, vanilla, nutmeg, and pinch of salt you pour it into the crust.  And then you bake.  And then you get one of the simplest and most delicious pies known to man.

This would definitely make a nice addition to your Thanksgiving menu and so I have tagged it as such.  Note that I try to tag all recipes that I deem worthy of a Thanksgiving spread so that you can easily search for ideas.  I will be cooking/baking plenty more things that fall into this category over the next month since Thanksgiving is my favorite.

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie (by Tim Mazurek of www.lottieanddoof.com found in the book “A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” by Ashley English)

  • 1/2 recipe Basic Pie Dough (see below)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into the 9-inch pie pan.  Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch and crimp the edges decoratively.  Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large bowl, whisk the 3 eggs with both sugars and the flour, making sure there are no lumps.  Add the melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt.  Whisk to combine.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and place in the preheated oven.

Turn down to 325 F and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is still a little wobbly.

Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.

Basic Pie Dough (from “A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” by Ashley English)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large bowl.

Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal (you should still have some rather large bits of butter and shortening when you’re done.)

Slowly drizzle in the ice water and stir with a large spoon until the dough begins to clump.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and, using your hands, fold it into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats.  The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky.

Divide the dough in half, shape it into two balls, and pat each ball into a 1/2-inch thick disk.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

4th of July: Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

It has been way too hot to bake lately and I haven’t been doing a whole lot of cooking either.  Trying to conserve energy– both my own and that of the electricity in my apartment.  I don’t have central air and my little window unit only does the trick for about a third of the apartment and the kitchen is not in that third.  No matter.  I decided it was a good excuse to buy myself a new ice cream maker (as if one needs a good excuse!).  The freezer bowl on my old one started leaking blue fluid everywhere which I’m guessing is not a good thing at all.  It had to go.

I bought some lovely strawberries at the market last weekend and they looked and smelled like strawberries ought to and while I generally think that ice cream should always involve chocolate in one form or another I have occasionally been known to choose strawberry as an alternative flavor.  It just sounded refreshing in this heat.

And man was that a wise decision.  I could have slurped up the batter when it was more like a thick strawberry milk and skipped the freezing step where it turned into ice cream.  It’s that good.  The addition of buttermilk really melds nicely with the strawberries– makes it  little richer.

I hope everyone enjoys their July 4th and manages to avoid the heat!  It’s going to be a sticky one today…

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

  • 3 cups strawberries, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl combine the strawberries, ½ cup of sugar, and lemon juice.  Stir gently and then set aside for 30 minutes to 2 hours to let berries macerate.  Strain the berries, reserving juices.  Mash or puree half the berries.

Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and remaining ¾ cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat milk and whisk in egg-yolk mixture over low heat.  Stir constantly, until mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and immediately stir in heavy cream.  Pass mixture through a strainer into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice bath until chilled, stirring from time to time.  Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, and juice from strawberries along with the mashed strawberries, then freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Five minutes before mixing is complete add the reserved strawberry slices and let mix in completely.  Transfer to plastic container to store.

berry season is here!

I hadn’t been to the farmer’s market for a few weeks so was pleasantly surprised to see loads of strawberries, raspberries, and even a few tart cherries on Saturday.  Allegedly there are some local blueberries that are coming in too but alas, I bought mine on sale at the supermarket last week and they originated in California.  Never mind.  The season is upon us no matter where the berries may have grown!

I had been craving blueberry muffins ever since I brought the blueberries home so this morning got to quick work making it happen.  I tried a Barefoot Contessa recipe that sounded interesting due to the streusel topping (I’m a sucker for streusel toppings) and use of lemon zest in the batter.  I know Ina is a big fan of using lemon zest to bring out other flavors in baking (or adding coffee to chocolate baked goods to deepen the chocolate flavor) and it really works here.  It brightens the flavor of the muffin, if that makes sense.

They were a cinch to make and they made a lovely second breakfast this morning.  The first breakfast of steel cut oats was hearty and all but not the most exciting.  (No offense steel cut oats, we’re still bros.)

Blueberry Streusel Muffins (from “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics” by Ina Garten)

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (2 half-pints)

For the streusel topping:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and blend with your hands.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, and eggs.  Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing just until blended.  Fold the blueberries into the batter.  Don’t overmix!  With a standard (2 1/4-inch) ice-cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cups, filling them almost full.

For the topping, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces.  Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until crumbly.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin.  Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

chess pie, take 3

I liked the first two chess pies I made for this here blog so much that when I saw a recipe for a lemon-buttermilk version I decided to try it a third time.

Before you get to the filling part of this pie you first have to make the crust.  The recipe recommended using pie weights or dried beans over parchment paper to keep the crust from bubbling up and since I don’t have pie weights I used some dried pinto beans I had in my cabinet.

It worked like a charm, though please note: I highly recommend making the crust edges taller than you think they ought to be because it shrunk up pretty good when I baked it.  I actually couldn’t fit all of the filling in so had to throw a little out and I never like to throw food out, particularly when involves things like butter and sugar, so take my word for it and make the edges nice and tall!

The filling consists of eggs, butter, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, buttermilk, and cornmeal amongst a few other necessary ingredients like vanilla and flour.  In other words, heaven.

It baked up into a lovely golden brown and was very tasty.  This would be a nice addition to your Thanksgiving pie menu as it’s quite light and the hint of lemon is refreshing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the heavier pies of the season (pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, etc.) but it’s always good to have another option, too.

I plan to get a few more recipes posted before the big day so be sure to check back for more ideas!

Buttermilk-Lemon Chess Pie (from recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Crust:

  •   2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
  •   1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •   1 teaspoon sugar
  •   3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes
  •   1/2 cup (or more) cold buttermilk

Filling:

  •   1 1/2 cups sugar
  •   1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  •   1 1/2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  •   1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  •   5 large eggs, beaten to blend
  •   2/3 cup buttermilk
  •   1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  •   1 3/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •   1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  •   2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •   Pinch of kosher salt

For   crust:

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add butter; pulse until pea-size pieces of butter form. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk; pulse until moist clumps form, adding more buttermilk by tablespoonfuls if too dry. Form into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14″ round. Transfer to pie pan; gently press onto bottom and up sides of pan.   Trim dough, leaving a 1″ overhang; tuck overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. Line with parchment paper or foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake crust until edges begin to brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove paper and weights; bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes longer. Let cool completely.
For filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Whisk eggs and remaining 6 ingredients in a large bowl (mixture may look curdled). Slowly whisk in dry ingredients. Pour filling into cooled crust and bake until custard is set around edges but jiggles slightly in center, 1 hour—1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.