Being from the South, having never lived anywhere but there, I have always seen buttermilk and chess pies but never ate one due to the name. It all had to do with the buttermilk, if it had been given another name I would have dove in, but that name was just too much for a little boy. I think it had to do with the fact that I hated straight buttermilk. I can't tell you how many times I watched my Granny put saltine crackers in a glass, slightly broken, then pour buttermilk in the glass and eat it! It was just revolting and I'm cringing even now as I type. I just couldn't embrace the buttermilk.
In adulthood, I've come to love the power that buttermilk holds in it's ability to enhance baking and cooking in general. With few exceptions, buttermilk instead of water or milk really makes a difference. Try buttermilk and cheddar cheese the next time you mash potatoes. I say all of this to say that I'm a fan of buttermilk in cooking but will NOT be planning to guzzle a glass of buttermilk any time soon. My Granny also scrambled pig brains into her eggs, incidentally. I won't be going there!
Buttermilk pie is very southern and totally delicious. It falls into the custard category, but isn't as difficult to make as custard pies are. The thing I love about buttermilk pie is the "crust" that forms on top of the pie. It is an amber colored caramelized sugar cookie like crust that is probably my favorite part of eating the pie. Chess pie, is the exact same thing as buttermilk pie save the use of cornmeal instead of flour.
This recipe for Buttermilk pie couldn't be easier. It takes all of five minutes to get the pie ready to go into the oven, but bakes for 50 minutes. I found that if I put the pie in the oven right as I was getting dinner served, it was ready by the time we were done eating, had the kitchen clean and were actually ready for something sweet to eat. The other wonderful thing about this pie is it doesn't need a crust. The baking mix in the batter makes the crust. It's one of those kitchen miracles I can't explain.
If you don't have buttermilk in your fridge, follow this easy substitution:
- In a 1-cup measure, add one tablespoon white vinegar.
- Pour in cold milk to the 1-cup line. Stir and let sit for two to five minutes.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup biscuit mix (recommended: Bisquick)
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, melted
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
This is so good, especially with coffee. You could add a tablespoon of lemon, lime, or, orange zest to give it a citrus flavor, but I find this to be perfectly delicious.