A true Southern and Colonial staple pie, chess pie is traditionally a somewhat gelatinous filling made unique by the addition of cornmeal. This lemony version is nice and tart and decidedly refreshing. Serve at room temperature with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk. My friend Rodney Henry from Dangerously Delicious Pies introduced me to chess pie. That man is the pie master. —Duff
Makes one 9-inch pie
- ½ recipe Pie Dough (see below)
- 1 stick (½ cup) butter
- 2 extra-large eggs plus 6 egg yolks
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
- 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface into a 14-inch round that’s ¼ inch thick. Carefully drape the dough over the rolling pin and lay it gently into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure that the pan is completely lined with the dough. Trim and crimp the edge.
- Lay a circle of parchment paper and some pie weights or dry beans on the bottom of the crust. Blind bake the crust for 5 minutes, remove the weights, and bake for 4 more minutes, until the crust is a matte blond color. Set aside.
- To brown the butter, slowly simmer it in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the solids have separated and lightly browned, taking care not to burn it. Remove it from the heat but make sure it stays melted.
- In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and salt, then whisk in (one at a time) the sugars, vanilla, cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, browned butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
- Pour the mixture into the crust and cover the edges of the crust with foil.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the pie looks mostly set, just slightly jiggly in the very center.
- Let it cool completely, then chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Let the pie return to room temperature before slicing and serving.
This here is my pie dough recipe that I’ve been using for almost twenty years. It’s super-basic, super-adaptable, and helps me make awesome pie! You can goof around with it and add flavor and spice and stuff, but the ratios are good, I promise. Also, there’s vinegar in this dough, which keeps the gluten from forming and helps make your dough flaky and tender. If you don’t have vinegar, just squeeze a lemon into the water. If the pie calls for a top and bottom crust, double this recipe. —Duff
Makes enough for one 9-inch single pie crust
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Big pinch of sugar
- 1 to 1½ sticks (½ to ¾ cup) cold butter, cubed (1 stick will make prettier pie crust, 1½ will make butterier, more delicious pies)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (nothing distinct like balsamic, but rice wine or distilled white are totally cool) or lemon juice
- In a big bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar and make a claw with your hand to mix it up real good. Toss in the cold butter cubes and massage them into the flour mixture so you get nice big chunks.
- Combine the vinegar with ½ cup cold water (this is called acidulating, which just means adding acid to something . . . usually water). Stir the acidulated water into the flour mixture and gently work the dough until a ball is formed.
- Wrap the dough in plastic, squeeze out the air, and chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This also freezes awesome for up to a year.