This buttermilk chess pie is declared “the easiest pie to prepare in this chapter” in the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. And it truly is simple. It’s also quite delicious, creamy, smooth, rich and downright heavenly.
After making this strawberry rhubarb pie and finishing off the last of it recently I was seriously craving more pie. I’ve typically reserved pie for the holiday baking season, making cobblers more often in the summer. But that’s just silly. Pie can easily be a year round food and should be embraced as much now, when the weather is warm, as when it’s chilly out. While some pies are better for cool weather and some for warmer days, this one can be enjoyed any time of year. Pairing it with some fresh seasonal berries during the coming months will make it a great summer dessert.
You can serve this custard pie warm, room temperature, or chilled. The flavors shine through best when it’s warm or room temp, though.
The crust in this pie, as with most if not all pie, is important and can really make the dessert special. If you use a store bought crust the dessert will be fine, but if you have the time to make your own it will be extra delicious. I’ve used this all butter pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen the last couple of times I’ve made pie and I really like it. The recipe makes enough for 2 crusts, so just stash one away for another time.
The ingredient list is simple and straightforward, you probably have everything in your kitchen right this very moment. Once you make the crust all you have to do is whisk everything else together, pour it into the pie crust and bake. So, what are you waiting for?!
Buttermilk Chess Pie
From America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
1 pie crust, fit into a pie plate, chilled and unbaked
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fine-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Berries for garnish
Whipped cream for garnish
Prepare pie crust by fitting it into a pie plate and placing the plate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Place a rimmed baking sheet into the oven and preheat to 375°F.
Whisk all of the ingredients together and pour into pie shell.
Place onto heated cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Top of the pie should be golden brown and center should be just set.
Let cool on a wire rack until just warm or all the way to room temp.
Thanks to my sister I am now aware of this bread’s existence and of its ability to lure you into eating it when you’re not even the slightest bit hungry. It’s evil. Thanks a lot, Lisa…
Lisa had this pastry at Epcot when she and her family were at Disney World on vacation recently. She asked if I’d try it out and let her know if it was worth the time and effort. As I began searching the internet for recipes I found that many people have developed an obsession with the bread as a result of visiting Disney. But as far as I can tell it’s not a Disney invention, but really a Norwegian pastry, a bun filled with custard and iced then covered in coconut. You can maybe understand now why it’s so evil. I love all of those things and when you put them together it becomes irresistible.
These are a labor of love. And they will take you the better part of an afternoon (or morning) to complete. BUT they are worth it, as long as you have someone (or many someones) to share them with or an event to make them for. The recipe makes 20-24 buns and they are best eaten the day they’re made or the day after. I didn’t try to freeze any, but am unsure how the custard would freeze and am fairly certain it wouldn’t be the same after it’s thawed. So I suggest making these for a breakfast, brunch, baby or bridal shower where you’ll be serving quite a few people. That way they’ll all be consumed at their peak of deliciousness and you’re guaranteed to make friends for life.
This recipe for skolebrød came from a blog I’ve just discovered, Five and Spice. It’s a lovely blog with delicious sounding and amazing looking food. I’m so glad to have found it! I didn’t change a thing from the original recipe and wouldn’t in the future. The bread is amazing on its own. I’d consider making it into rolls or a braided bread and serving with butter and lingonberry jam some time. The custard is pretty simple and has good flavor and consistency. Make sure to use good vanilla. The coconut on top provides a terrific crunch. I used unsweetened coconut chips, but ended up running out and using sweetened flaked coconut for the last few. It was not only more difficult to put on the buns, but wasn’t as good. Stick with the unsweetened stuff.
Consider making these. You will feel like you’ve accomplished something great when you’re done…because you have! It’s a lot of work, but again, well worth it.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together milk, butter and sugar then check the temperature, it should be between 100 and 110°F. Sprinkle the yeast on top, stir once, then let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is foamy.
Stir in the cardamom and salt.
Add in flour, 1 cup at a time, until you’ve mixed in 6 cups. At this point you will probably need to add in 1/2 cup flour. The dough should be fairly loose and sticky, not dense like a bread dough. If it still seems too loose, add in 1/4 cup, mix again. Add the additional 1/4 cup if you have to.
Transfer the dough into a large greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for at least 1 hour, until doubled in size.
In a small bowl whisk egg, egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch.
In a saucepan heat cream and milk over medium heat just until it begins to simmer. Temper the eggs by adding 1/4 cup of the warm milk to the eggs, whisking while you add it, then another 1/4 cup.
Now, with the heat on medium-low, whisk the egg mixture back into the milk and cook, whisking constantly to keep it from getting lumpy, until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, transfer to a bowl and let cool.
Form the buns
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 3 (maybe 4…) cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Flour a clean surface and turn dough out. It will be sticky! have extra flour on hand! Divide the dough into 20-24 pieces, as equal as you can get them.
Roll each piece into a ball and place them on the cookie sheets, 5-6 per cookie sheet with enough space between for them to rise when baked.
Cover with clean dish towels and let rest for 30 minutes.
Form a crater in the center of each bun and fill with custard using a spoon or a pastry bag.
Bake each batch for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the buns have browned a bit.
Let cool completely on wire racks.
Top the buns
Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. You want a consistency that isn’t too thin, but not too thick. You don’t want it to drip off the sides of the buns.
With an offset spatula or spoon, spread some glaze onto the top of the bun, around the custard.
Press some coconut onto the bun, gently shaking off any excess.
I know. I just posted a pot de creme recipe. But this one is different. And more simple. And just as delicious. I just couldn’t help but share this one with you as well.
This pot de creme is called “butterscotch” on Epicurious, where I found this recipe, but it’s more caramel in flavor in my opinion. Which is fine by me. It’s less rich than the other pot de creme, making it much easier to enjoy. It’s delicious and creamy and a snap to prepare. It’s a great make ahead dessert, and one that would be wonderful for Valentine’s Day for those of you who love sweets but aren’t in to chocolate.
In the original recipe are two sugars, Muscovado and Demerara, that I’ve heard of but couldn’t find at the grocery store, so I simply used light and dark brown sugar. If you can find the others, go right ahead and use them, but the combination of sugars I used was perfect (and probably less expensive).
I did not have the same problem with these pots de creme as I had with the last ones. Each pot de creme was smooth and creamy on top. You do still bake them in a water bath, but there is no need to cover them. Which is nice for absent minded people like me who tend to forget stuff like that.
Top these with sweetened whipped cream, grated chocolate, berries or enjoy them on their own. Enjoy!
sweetened whipped cream, berries, grated chocolate for topping
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Bring a teapot of water to a simmer to use for the water bath.
Combine dark brown sugar, cream and salt in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar completely. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl.
In another saucepan, bring water and light brown sugar to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking until the mixture begins to brown and bubble, stirring constantly. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly pour caramel into the cream mixture, whisking to combine. Mixture may bubble and steam.
In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and vanilla, then add hot cream mixture in small amounts, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg yolks. One you’ve added 1/3 of the mixture, stream in the rest and whisk well.
Pour custard through a sieve (to remove any cooked egg lumps) into the bowl that originally contained the cream.
Set 6 ramekins in baking dish then divide custard evenly among them. Place in the oven, then fill pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Try to keep water from splashing into the custards.
Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes, until custards are set but centers are still wobbly.
Remove ramekins to a cooling rack and cool slightly. You can enjoy these at room temperature, or refrigerate them for a few hours.