What do you do when the dairy delivers a half-gallon of buttermilk by mistake?
Answer: Make buttermilk pie.
This was my wife's inspiration. Although, if you had nailed my feet to the floor and doused me with hot coffee, I probably could have remembered there was something called "buttermilk pie."
I love the flavor and consistency--somewhere between lemon meringue and coconut custard. It has the flakiest crust and just a bit of ever-so-crunchy caramelization on top. That's because you start the pie cooking at 425 degrees, then lower the temperature.
The recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts. This book came out before people started to tire of Martha as knowing too much and I definitely recommend getting a copy, not just for the many excellent recipes (I take my wife's word for it--she's the baker in the family) but for the really dolled-up photo of a very young Martha published as an inset on the cover, just below a gorgeous heart-shaped raspberry tart. (Even then, Martha was getting her photo on the cover whenever possible, it seems. Is it fair to say she was using her looks to get ahead?)
We normally associate buttermilk pie or anything else with Southern cuisine. But apparently Martha--a Polish girl from New Jersey--knew a good thing when she tasted it.
For the pate brisee pie shell:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water.
Put flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and chill. All ingredients must be cold before proceeding. Then add the pieces of butter and process for about 10 seconds, or until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add ice water, drop by drop, through the feed tube with the machine running, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test dough by squeezing a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add a bit more water.
Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Grasping the ends of the plastic wrap with your hands, press the dough into a flat circle with your fists. Rolling will be easier if the pastry is chilled as a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic and chill for at least an hour.
Use vegetable cooking spray to lightly butter a pie plate or tart pan. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Place the pastry in the tart pan or pie plate and press it into the bottom edges and along the sides. Trim pastry using scissors or a sharp paring knife. Crimp or decorate the edges of the pastry, if desired, using your favorite method. Chill the pastry-lined pan until ready to use.
For the filling:
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
For the glaze:
1 egg yolk with beaten with 2 teaspoons water
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the beaten eggs and mix well. Stir in butter and buttermilk. Stir in lemon rind and juice, vanilla and nutmeg, and pour into the pie shell. Brush the edge of the pie crust with the egg glaze. Place the pie in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and serve at room temperature.
You'll like this so much you'll want the dairy to deliver buttermilk by mistake more often.