Wipe that smirk off your face, don’t let the word buttermilk fool you! This sweet flavorful delicate custard pie has been compared in taste to crème brulee.
I’ll be honest, this is one Southern great-grandmother who does not like to drink buttermilk. But don’t be fooled by that, you’ll always find buttermilk in my refrigerator. It is a staple ingredient in many recipes for Southern cooks. I am excited to share this delicious old fashioned family recipe for buttermilk pie. I’m sharing this in time for it to become one of your family’s favorite holiday desserts. Make a buttermilk pie for Thanksgiving, you might want to tell your guests that it is called “Thursday Pie”.
Thanksgiving Traditions Continue
My friend, Kaye Loftis, shared this Granville family recipe in Wilson Living Magazine in November 2014. She reminded us that we gather each year on the fourth Thursday in November for the three F’s- feasting, food, and football. Although today’s Thanksgiving celebrations would likely be unrecognizable to those who attended the first harvest meal, there are many similarities. We still gather with family and friends to enjoy a good food, friendship, and give thanks. Kaye and I have fond memories of Thanksgiving with extended families. Interestingly, we both still serve our families the same basic menu that we recall from our grandparents. Thus, validating the claim that family recipes with-stand the test of time.
Generation to Generation Family Recipes
In our community, food was gathering together in good times and bad times, food was family, food was a way to show you cared. We loved to make it, eat it, share it and talk about it. Evidently, this still continues and we are not alone in our love for talking about food. Cooking shows are on primetime television, online streaming, social media, blogs, and websites.
But nothing beats tried and true old-fashioned recipes – handed down generation to generation. A dish with a story that can remind you of someone special or take you back to a childhood memory.
Not Just Ingredients but Fragments of Wisdom
Families no longer live with or near extended family which makes it impossible to learn to cook by observing the older generation. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to observe and engage in conversation with generations of family cooks. I not only have the recipes with ingredients needed but I have fragments of wisdom learned through observation. The history, the story of the recipe adds a little family history to a holiday meal.
My children have fond memories of Granny’s Bread and Butter Pickles. They say, they have never had any that even come close to measuring up to Granny’s. Wait, there is a story. My daughter says she was scared half to death when sent to the dark cellar to get a jar of pickles. Her love for the pickles gave this little girl the courage to fight through the spider webs to the shelf with the treasured pickles.
My Buttermilk Pie Story
I’ve been told that buttermilk pie originated in England and was brought to the United States by early Southern settlers. Living on a farm, families had an abundance of buttermilk and the other ingredients for the pie were staples found in the home.
I found this in the recipe box of my great aunt, Vallie Williams. In small letters at the bottom of the recipe were “Mrs. Douglas Holleman-Granville". Ann Turner, daughter of Ms. Holleman, recalls her grandmother making buttermilk pie and never used a measuring cup nor a recipe. It is obvious that this is a wonderful example of an oral recipe passed from generation to generation.
Buttermilk Pie Recipe
1 ½ cups sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
½ cup butter, softened
squirt of lemon
1 cap vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Beat eggs, add sugar, flour ,butter, lemon , vanilla, buttermilk. Mix it all together and pour in an unbaked pie crust. Bake 350 degrees for about an hour.
Fragments of Wisdom
Use less sugar if you want it less sweet; Tablespoon means level it off, not heaping; set the butter out to soften; it you don’t have lemon it is OK. The pie will puff up in the middle but as it cooks it will fall and look good. Don’t take the pie out of the oven too soon; the center should be firm, the top golden brown and slightly caramelized with the edges of the crust brown. Not all ovens bake the same, you may need to adjust your oven temperature.
If You Must Tinker with Perfection
My family would tell you that the buttermilk pie is perfect and needs no tinkering but you can use the basic recipe for other pies.
Lemon Buttermilk: Just add 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 T. lemon zest and increase flour to ¼ cup. Mix and bake as stated in original recipe.
Nutmeg Buttermilk: Add 1 tablespoon nutmeg to recipe and sprinkle nutmeg on top of the pie. Continue as stated in original recipe.
Autumn Buttermilk: Add I tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, sprinkle pumpkin pie spice on top and bake at 350 for an hour.
Pecan Buttermilk: Add 1 ½ cup toasted pecans, CHANGE SUGAR use 1 cup granulated sugar and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Place pecans in the crust, pour filling over the pecans. Bake at 325 for about an hour and 20 minutes.
Chocolate Buttermilk: add 1/3 cup cocoa to dry ingredients and continue as stated in original recipe.
Enjoy Your Pie
Do you think you’d like buttermilk baked to a golden perfection with the other ingredients? If you’ve enjoyed the article about buttermilk pie, please share with others. Help keep old- fashioned recipes and stories about food alive for future generations.
Join Granville cooks at Sutton General Store for lunch 11AM – 2PM Wednesday- Saturday.
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