Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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Lemon Buttermilk Pie

I prefer to eat out for breakfast rather than for dinner. There's something nice about starting the day with a great meal and then trundling off to work. This is nothing new. I've been a sucker for great breakfasts for years and when I find a place I really like, I tend to go back again and again.

In the early 1990's, Paradise Cafe in Lawrence, Kansas was one of those places. My friend David was a waiter at Paradise — and a big part of the reason I went. But nearly half the reason I made the short walk to the cafe was its lemon buttermilk pie. Available most days, but not always. Some mornings, my breakfast was simply tea and a slice of that pie.

Paradise Cafe is now closed and David moved to New York, but before we left Lawrence, he scored for me the recipe for the pie. I made it on a whim last night for the first time in years and was reminded of why I liked it in the first place; a light, sweet custard spiked with lemon zest and the tang of buttermilk that just collapses in my mouth was a fantastic way to cap the night.

These days, if I were to muck about with flavors, I would consider adding cardamom or a tot of rum, but the simplicity of the pie still resonates with me after all these years and I made it as I always do.

The original recipe called for making two pies at once, so — unless I plan to give one away — I scale it back for one. Here's my slightly tweaked recipe:
Lemon Buttermilk Pie

1.5 c sugar
3 eggs (4 if they're small)
2 Tbl all purpose flour
¼ c melted butter
¾ c buttermilk
1 lemon, zest and strained juice
pinch of salt
1 uncooked pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the eggs, sugar, and flour in the bowl of a mixer. Mix until well blended and the mixture is a light yellow. Beat in the melted butter, buttermilk, lemon, and a pinch — just a knifepoint — of salt. Pour into the prepared pie crust and bake for 30-40 minutes until the center is just set. Set on a rack. It will thicken on cooling. 
I like it at room temperature, maybe slightly warm. Whipped cream if you like, but that would be overkill for me.

Goes well with:


erik.ellestad said...

That does sound good AND like something Mrs. Flannestad would enjoy. A better version of Lemon Bars, sort of.

Matthew Rowley said...

Precisely. Not at all unlike lemon bars, though it doesn't set up as firm as they usually do. Come to think of it, giving a dusting of 10x sugar isn't the worst thing in the world someone could do to the top of this pie, though it's sweet enough as is. Please do give Mrs. Flannestad my regards.

Lucille said...

My grandmother, who is a Pie Queen, enjoyed this very much. She is notorious for not enjoying lemon pies as they were all her mother made during her childhood! Thank you for the recipe. (I wish you would post more pies!)

Matthew Rowley said...

Lucille ~

I'm so happy that this met the standards of the Pie Queen. I agree with her: most lemon pies aren't something that I'd order off the menu, but the soft texture and the acidic tang of this one makes it one of my favorites. I'll do what I can to post more pie recipes in 2012. Perhaps if your grandmother has one or two to share…