Hi fellow foodies! Sorry to be MIA – September was a whirlwind of a month. Between a trip to Gainesville, Dallas, evacuating due to Hurricane Irma, applying to grad school, and a handful of other family matters, I just have no idea where the time went! But I’m glad to be back, and there’s no better way to get back in the swing of things than with J.’s company pie contest! I’m still on a quest to redeem my first place win with my classic apple pie. I’m hoping that by going back to basics with this classic southern Chess Pie recipe I’ll bring home the win!
And while I’ve always made my own crusts for the competition, this time it’s mandatory – no mo’ store bought.
Flaky pie crust:
- 2 + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
Chess Pie Filling:
- 6 TBSP unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 TBSP flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Before we get started:
Make the crust first, it needs time to chill. The tip to making this crust extra flaky is to not over work it and keeping it extra cold. That means you’re working sans-mixer and during the times you are handling the dough, you need to work quickly. Once the dough heats up, it just becomes a sticky mess.
In a medium bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, and salt. Chop up the butter into small pats or cubes. Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. It won’t be completely together, like a batter, but more of a flaky/crumbly consistency. Don’t be afraid if you don’t necessarily combine all of the butter with the flour, you may still have some small chunks left – you just want to work quickly before the butter starts to warm up. Place the mixture in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Stick the buttermilk in the freezer as well to get it extra cold before adding to your crust dough.
Remove the bowl from the freezer and add the buttermilk. Use a fork to softly bring the dough together. Again, this will not be a super squishy, moist dough – it will stay somewhat flaky. Add more buttermilk (a TBSP at a time) if your dough is too dry and not coming together.
Form the dough into two disks and wrap in parchment paper. (Note: You’ll only need one disk for the bottom crust of the pie. You can either freeze the other crust just to keep on hand in the future, or double the filling recipe to make two pies). Place the dough you’re going to use (as well as your pie pan) in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.
After it’s chilled, place your dough on a well-floured sheet of parchment paper. Flour your rolling pin, and roll out your dough into a thin circle. Place your pie dish upside down on your dough then carefully flip the dough into the pie pan. Press into the dish and carefully remove the parchment paper. Crimp the edges of your dough and place back into the refrigerator.
Onto the pie filling!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then set aside to cool. (Note: you don’t want to throw hot butter into your sugar/egg mixture – you could cook the eggs!)
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine. Add in butter, then buttermilk and vanilla. Mix until the mixture is smooth. Remove your crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling.
Bake for 50-70 minutes until the filling is set (aka it barely jiggles in the center). Mine took the full 70 minutes. You’ll want to brown the crust edges and caramelize the top – keep an eye out on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. Around 30 – 40 minutes I had to cover mine with tin foil.
Let the pie cool and set further. You can serve warm or chilled – whatever you prefer! This pie is a perfect example of simple ingredients that can stand the test of time. The high sugar content provides that somewhat shell-like caramelized sugar topping (like creme brulee) that you just can’t beat. Wish me luck in the competition!