Buttermilk pie originally hails from England. Today the Deep South stakes claim as its home, with Texas bestowing more love on it than most. A custard of buttermilk, eggs, butter, and sugar baked in a pie shell is a simple pleasure, no pretentiousness here. However, there is elegance in its simplicity. The tangy tartness of the buttermilk shines through if you don’t overwhelm it with sugar. Sometimes a little lemon zest can add additional brightness.
Dress up this pie with toasted, slivered almonds braced with a touch of almond extract, and it reaches for ethereal heights. Making this dessert is, well, easy as pie. Let’s go there!
I would have made more pies in my life if not for the crust. I do believe that pie dough was invented by a culinary committee headed by the devil himself. The world of pie is teeming with dough recipes touting themselves as foolproof, best-ever, butter-flaky, perfect, etc., etc., and etc.
Creating a pie crust that makes you proud is like performing that first perfect swan dive after way too many belly flops. (I actually took springboard diving lessons as a young adult, and if there’s one thing I perfected it was my belly flop.)
My pie dough epiphany arrived on Christmas Day. It does come with the often-used qualifier “foolproof,” but this one lives up to the claim. The secret ingredient – VODKA!
Almond Buttermilk Pie
Foolproof Pie Dough from America’s Test Kitchen
Pie Dough Ingredients:
- ½ cup (118 ml.) chilled Crisco cut into 4 equal pieces
- 12 tablespoons (177 ml.) of cold, unsalted butter cut into small slices about ¼ inch (6.3 mm.)
- 2½ cups (.59 lt.) or 12½ ounces (.355 kg) of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) sugar
- ¼ cup (59 ml.) ice water
- ¼ cup (59 ml.) very cold vodka*
* We keep our vodka in the freezer and it’s always icy cold.
Makes enough dough for two 9-inch pie shells or one 9-inch pie with a crust on top.
- After dividing the Crisco and slicing the butter, place on a sheet of wax or parchment paper and freeze for a few minutes to thoroughly chill.
- Whiz 1½ cups (.35 lt.) of the flour, the salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor to combine.
- Add the chilled Crisco and butter and process for about 15 seconds until it becomes homogenous. Recipe says it should look a bit like cottage cheese.
- Scrape down the bowl, add the remaining cup of flour and process for 4-6 quick pulses.
- Empty dough into a bowl and sprinkle the water and vodka over all.
- Using a rubber spatula, combine all using a folding motion (I use a pastry cutter until blended).
- Divide the dough into two equal balls and flatten into 4-inch (10 cm.) disks.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes or up to two days.
- Using plenty of flour, roll out chilled dough to desired size and place in 9″ (23×3 cm or 1 lt) pie plate.
Note: This dough is moister and more supple than most and will require more flour to roll out.
- 1 cup (.25 lt.) buttermilk
- 1 cup (.25 lt.) sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 ounces (56 gr.) of very soft unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon (30 ml.) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) almond extract
- 1 cup (.25 lt.) almond slivers, toasted
- Preheat oven to 350 ºF (177 ºC).
- Beat together first 6 ingredients until homogenous.
- Stir in toasted almonds.
- Pour in pie shell and bake for 50 minutes.
Best served at room temperature. Enjoy!
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities