Buttermilk-Lemon Chess Pie Recipe
Chess pie, or “chest pie,” may have gotten its name from the small, tin-roofed cabinets that used to be common in kitchens for storing cooling pies and other baked goods. This version has a rich, eggy custard filling with a tangy flavor from buttermilk and lemon zest. Plus, its crust doesn’t require any prebaking to stay flaky, so the whole thing’s relatively fast to put together and get into the oven. A thick slice stands perfectly on its own, no adornment required.
Game plan: You can make the pie dough ahead of time, wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup shortening, frozen and cut into small pieces
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the filling:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 medium lemon)
- Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl until combined. Add the butter and shortening and toss with your fingers until well coated in the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until reduced to pea-size pieces, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and the lemon juice and mix just until the dough comes together. (Add the last tablespoon of ice water if the dough is too dry, but don’t overwork the dough or it’ll become tough.) Form the dough into a flat disk. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a round approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough, fold the excess under itself, and crimp the edges. Refrigerate the pie crust until ready to bake.
For the filling:
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack at the lowest level. Place the dough-lined pie plate on a baking sheet.
- Whisk the sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl to aerate and combine. Add the buttermilk, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the melted butter and lemon zest and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pie plate.
- Bake until the filling is just set in the middle and the top is golden brown, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place the pie on a wire rack and let it cool to room temperature before cutting. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before serving.