You, like me, may be wondering why this pie is called chess pie. After looking it up on Wikipedia, I learned that no one really knows why it's called that, but there are a few theories. One is that the look and consistency of the pie is like that of soft cheese. After making this pie, it seems like a plausible explanation. It is a cross between a sugar cream pie and a custard pie...very sweet and very eggy and looks a little like soft cheese. Another theory is that the pie kept well in a pie chest. Chest pie turned to chess pie eventually. The last is my favorite. Once there was a clever housewife (domestic engineer) who created a new type of pie. When her husband wanted to know what her delicious new creation was called, her not so clever answer was "It's jes pie." Just pie in a southern accent turned into Chess pie eventually. It is an apt name for this pie. It's not too fancy, but it's oh so tasty. If you don't want to make this pie, please take note of the pie crust recipe, also from the Mitford Cookbook. It is the perfect crust and would please the pickiest 4-H judges in the "flakiness" category.
Louella's Buttermilk Chess Pie
(from Jan Karon's "A Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader" pg. 128)
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled, more for greasing the pie pan
1/2 recipe Pastry for a Double Crust (see below)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk (I used low-fat.)
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice (I used lime)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of salt
1. Butter your pie dish. I like to use clear so that I can see if the crust is done on the bottom.Roll out crust and press into dish.
2. Mix sugar and flour. Add beaten eggs. Add the butter and buttermilk. Mix well after each addition.
3. Stir in the lemon juice, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt.
4. Pour into the crust and bake at 400 for 15 min. Then lower heat to 350 and bake for 35-40 minutes. Mine actually went for 45 minutes. It will be lightly browned on the top...kind of reminded me of creme brulee in appearance. Cool before serving.
It is very good slightly warm. I stored the leftovers in the fridge, and it made a very tasty, if unhealthy breakfast.
Pastry for a Double Pie Crust
***Remember to halve this recipe if making this pie.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter chilled and diced
1/2 cup shortening chilled and diced
1 TBSP sour cream
4-5 TBSP ice water.
1. Place flour, salt and sugar in large food processor and mix.
2. Add butter and quickly pulse five times. Repeat separately with shortening and then sour cream.
3. Pour into a large bowl and add ice water until dough starts to form. Form into two disks and place in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. (If you half the recipe, make just one disk.)
The recipe suggests cooling the crust for 30 more minutes after you put it in the pie dish. I worked quickly and didn't have to do this.