, Gloucester, MA

November 28, 2012

Antidote to autumn pies: lemony buttermilk custard with cornmeal crust

Food for Thought
Heather Atwood

---- — After a week punctuated by squash, apple and pecan, this lemon buttermilk pie is what I want. From the rustic, hipster blog Local Milk, this recipe leaves other buttermilk pies behind, mostly because of its super-crusty cornmeal-nubbed crust, ready to do-si-do with the lemony and nutmeg custard filling.

I’ve tasted buttermilk pie before, but it’s usually a thin, mushy cardboard crust that has no relationship whatsoever with the filling, which is usually bland. This crust to filling dynamic is like Spencer and Hepburn. Crusty, homey, authentic dancing with sublime and elegant. Forget the do-si-do, this combination is ready to tango.

Light as lemon and buttermilk, this pie is a beautiful antidote to all that molasses, maple, and cinnamon on Thanksgiving Day; the cornmeal and nutmeg keep it relevant for the season.

Buttermilk Pie with Cornmeal Crust


2 eggs separated, room temperature

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoons nutmeg

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

1 cornmeal lard crust

powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

*would also be good with fresh whipped cream


Roll out your crust and put it in your pie pan. Cover in plastic and chill in the refrigerator while you make your filling.

Heat oven to 350° F.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and set aside. With whip attachment cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add yolks to butter-sugar mixture and combine well. Add the flour, lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt to the mixture. Slowly steam in buttermilk and mix for 1 minute. Fold the whites into the buttermilk mixture.

Remove crust from refrigerator and pour in mixture. Smooth with spatula and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and set in the middle. Cool thoroughly on a rack before serving. Dust with powdered sugar if you like or top with fresh whipped cream.

Cornmeal Lard Crust

from Sarah Malphrus, pastry chef of Husk Restaurant in Charleston, S.C.

Yields one single crust pie


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cold pork fat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I use Leaf lard)

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup ice cold water


Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt.

Cut in fat and butter until no pieces larger than a pea remain.

Slowly add the water, working it into the dough with your hands until it comes together.

On plastic wrap form the dough into a disc 4 to 5 inches across wrap, and chill for at least an hour.

When ready to use, roll out on a floured surface to fit a 9-inch pie pan, flouring as needed to keep from sticking.

Gloucester resident Heather Atwood writes Food for Thought weekly. Questions and comments may be directed to Follow her blog at