Sunday, January 23, 2011

Of Blogs and Pies

I just returned from my first blogging conference and am so amazed and impressed by the world of Southern food bloggers. My friend Niki (of Life in Recipes) and I jumped in the car on Friday afternoon and headed to Birmingham for FoodBlog South. We skipped the pre-party in lieu of laying in the hotel room, eating pizza, drinking wine and watching an expensive hotel movie. I tell you, this is a mother’s fantasy night away! Am I right?

We arrived at the conference on Saturday morning and met so many wonderful people who are passionate about food and preserving Southern foodways. I feel proud to be a newbie in this emerging field of writing where anyone can share – and we can all learn from one another. I plan on writing more about this later and share some of the blogs, organizations and personalities you should definitely check out.

However, seeing that is National Pie Day, I must write about pies for a moment. First of all, were you aware that there is a National Pie Day and an American Pie Council? I was not, but I think they are awesome and I wish they would hire me. According to experts, pies are the “new cupcake” – the next big food trend that will sweep the nation this year. Not that I ever think cupcakes will be passé, but I am happy to see the humble pie get its due.

In honor of National Pie Day, I made a buttermilk pie based off my mother’s egg custard pie recipe. Well, it’s kind of a hybrid. I LOVE buttermilk pie – the sweetness and tanginess of the custard on top of a buttery crust. We didn’t have a lot of buttermilk pies growing up because my papa always preferred egg custard pies. We have to have at least one every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Basically it’s the same concept – a sweet custard but with “sweet milk” instead of buttermilk. Egg custard tends to have nutmeg in it as well (but you can leave it out if you are not a fan like me).

Tonight I decided to see if you can make a delicious hybrid – a touch of tangy buttermilk, but maybe a little less sugar and a bit more “egginess.” I have to say that it turned out pretty well. I think buttermilk is still my favorite because almost cheesecake like flavor, but if you want something a little lighter – a little less rich, this in-between egg custard/buttermilk pie fits the bill. Here’s the recipe:

Buttermilk Egg Custard Pie

2 tbsp. butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
3 tbsp. flour (I used white whole wheat)
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
Grated orange or lemon zest (just a bit, until it feels right)

Melt butter and mix together with sugar, milks and flour. Add eggs, vanilla and zest and beat until smooth and well mixed. Pour into 9-inch deep dish pie crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Lower oven temp to 325 and bake for 30-40 minutes more until top is puffy and set.

Now, I know I am going to get beaten up for not making my own pie crust, but I was in a hurry. Plus, I have to admit that I’m a little afraid of homemade pie crusts. It is a fear I plan to conquer very soon as I know homemade is far superior and less greasy.

Another quick thing to note is the trickiness of custard. I am still working on getting the perfect texture – sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. Custards tend to curdle if overcooked, but then if undercooked they can be kind of runny or watery. My best advice is to take it out when the top is golden brown, puffy and set – though still a little “jiggly.” It will continue to cook as it cools. And you want it to completely cool before you cut into it. I personally love it cold out of refrigerator the next day.

Happy baking and more on blogs and pies to come!


  1. Egg custard pies remind me of my Grandma and Granddaddy on my mom's side. Every Sunday after church when I was visiting them, we would go to lunch at the Downtown Club in Meridian, MS. They were famous for their egg custard, and I would always get one for dessert after lunch. Good times an good memories. Thanks for sharing!

  2. My mama made Chess pies. I'm not sure what that means and how it's different from this! Thoughts?
    PS your buttermilk custard pie sounds like a fantastic breakfast!!! Maybe I can trade you some fresh from the farm eggs for pie? :)

  3. @Linda - I would love some farm fresh eggs. Certainly could whip up a pie for that! Chess pie is really the same thing except you use a little cornmeal as well. Interestingly, I was just reading about this in my new cookbook by Virginia Willis. One theory holds that chess pie is a variation of cheese pie. Another is that since the pie held up well at room temperature, it was stored in a pie safe or chest and was called "chest pie" which of course evolved into "chess pie." I'll have to do some more research. By the way, this cookbook is great: "Bon Appetit, Y'all" by Virginia Willis -- lots of good photos, stories, etc. -- she used to work for Nathalie Dupree and Martha Stewart.