Robbin Gourley's Buttermilk Pie-Famous Fridays
Robbin Gourley's Buttermilk Pie-Famous Fridays

When Southerners talk about the good old home-cooking of their childhood, they get this sort of wistful dreamy look on their faces, as if recalling a calmer, more delicious and somewhat unattainable past. But when you delve into the pages of Sugar Pie & Jelly Roll by Robbin Gourley, a collection of her rural Southern family's dessert recipes, you'll be able to instantly access and reproduce that southern past right in your very own kitchen! One look at this adorable book, and I knew that it would become a subject of Famous Fridays before long. Practically every entry is accompanied by little stories and family anecdotes as well as Robbin's original watercolors which make this little book a classic in itself. Plus it's filled with over 60 traditional Southern desserts, ranging from Chess Pie to Mother's Fudge to Raspberry Summer Pudding and all of the recipes are straightforward and unpretentious. I have always wanted to make a Buttermilk Pie and seeing that it's the first entry in the book and I always believe that people start with their best, choosing what to try was a no brainer. The pie is simple, light, creamy--in other words, perfect!

Buttermilk pie apparently was brought to the South by English colonists where it quickly became a Southern tradition. It's a relatively inexpensive dessert to make and other than the buttermilk, only requires pantry staples. In some ways it reminds me of creme brulee with it's light, delicate, slightly vanilla flavor. I can see why many of my Southern friends place it high up on their list of comfort foods!

You start by making the pie crust and blind-baking it so that it's partially cooked by the time you pour in the buttermilk mixture, which is nothing more than melted butter, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, salt and of course, buttermilk, whisked together--truly as easy as pie!

Once cooked, you can serve this as is or top it with some fresh berries. The filling is smooth, creamy, slightly tangy from the buttermilk and sweet, but not overly so and is a perfect contrast to the light flaky pastry. No matter where you hail from, each bite will help you too to achieve that wistful dreamy Southern look! 

Have a great weekend and try something interesting in the kitchen!!

Robbin Gourley's Buttermilk Pie-Famous Fridays

Makes 8 servings
Prep Time:  10 minutes for filling, plus making, chilling and rolling out the pie dough; Bake Time:  40-45 minutes


For the Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and rechilled until ready to use
  • 1/4 cup frozen solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 cubes (I used Crisco)
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice water (maybe more)

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

The Recipe

To make the Pie Crust:

1.  Using a food processor, blend flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and shortening cubes and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

2.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl and add the 5 tablespoons of water, using a fork to mix until the dough begins to come together. Add more water by the teaspoonful if it seems too dry.

3.  Gather the dough into a ball and turn out onto a flat surface. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for at at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. 

4.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit a bit to soften if it seems too cold to roll out. Meanwhile lightly flour a board or work surface, and with a lightly floured rolling pin, working from the center out, roll the dough out into a 12 inch circle, lifting and rotating the dough several times to make sure it's not sticking. Then loosely roll dough around rolling pin to transfer it and very carefully position it over the pan and unroll it, gently pressing dough down into a 9 or 10 inch extra-deep pie plate. Trim overhang and crimp edges using your thumb and finger to make the indentations or any way you like. Chill the crust for 20 minutes.

5.  Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Once chilled, remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and prick it all over with a fork. Line it with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil or two layers of regular aluminum foil that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray to prevent it from sticking to the crust. Fill the lined crust with pie weights or dried beans an bake for about 12 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven, remove the foil and pie weights and lower the oven to 350F and return pie crust to oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the crust is light brown. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Lower the oven to 325ºF.

To make the Filling:

6.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Pour into the pie crust. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the custard is set but the center is still slightly jiggly.

7.  Allow to cool to room temperature and serve as is or topped with fresh berries. Pie keeps chilled and covered for 2-3 days.


Note:  Pie crust is adapted from an old issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. Buttermilk filling is from Sugar Pie & Jelly Roll by Robbin Gourley. The original recipe only calls for 25 minutes for the filling to bake but I've made this pie twice and each time it needed about 40 minutes to set up properly.




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