It wouldn’t be summer without a berry pie cooling on the windowsill of our Test Kitchen. This year, however, we wanted to shake it up from the traditional strawberry-rhubarb. Turns out what we were looking for was down south, where buttermilk pies reign supreme.
“We like to kid that culture is our culture,” Meredith Layton, co-owner of Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop in Knoxville, Tennessee, jokes. “Buttermilk is a staple in Southern cooking; our grandmothers used it in everything from cornbread to bath water. We knew that as a shop that embodies Southern culture and tradition we had to include buttermilk in our namesake pie.”
In this exclusive recipe for TT, a custardy buttermilk filling is studded with fresh, ripe blackberries. While her husband and co-owner Scott may fight her on it, Layton uses a shortbread crust in lieu of the traditional flaky crust. Since you are in concept making a cookie crust, the easiest trick that we found to get the dough just right, and Layton agrees, is by rolling it out between sheets of parchment paper.
And the secret ingredient to this creamy pie? Moonshine, of course. “Moonshine is a bragging right to life in Southern Appalachia,” Layton explains. “Moonshine wakes up food flavors and enhances their natural tastes as well as textures.” This recipe calls for blackberry moonshine, a spirit you can buy or make yourself by infusing moonshine with fresh blackberries. It adds the perfect kick of blackberry flavor and booze to cut through the sweetness of the pie. And if you can’t get your hands on moonshine, simply substitute blackberry brandy.
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“We encourage people to try their hand at baking pies for their family,” Layton explains. “Dig out old treasured recipes from your family. If you aren't from a baking family, ask friends for their family recipes. In the South, recipes are treasured like gold and every good recipe holds memories to pass on to the next generation.”
We couldn’t agree more, so you heard her: get your oven going to crank out the best pie you’ve had this summer. Trust us, it’s to pie for.
Blackberry-Buttermilk PieRecipe adapted from Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, Knoxville, TN
Yield: One 9-inch pie
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling, freezing and cooling time
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes, plus chilling, freezing and cooling time
For the Crust:
? cup granulated sugar
1 stick salted butter, softened
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
For the Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick salted butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon blackberry moonshine
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup blackberries
For the Blackberry-Moonshine Drizzle:
¼ cup blackberries
½ cup blackberry jam
3 tablespoons blackberry moonshine
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1. Make the crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the flour, milk and vanilla, and mix until a smooth dough comes together. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and butter until incorporated. Add the flour and eggs, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, moonshine and nutmeg to incorporate, then set aside.
3. Make the blackberry-moonshine drizzle: In a small bowl, mash the blackberries with a fork until they fall apart. Stir in the remaining drizzle ingredients and set aside.
4. Roll the dough out, between 2 sheets of parchment paper dusted with confectioners’ sugar, into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish and trim the excess, then crimp the edges. Transfer the pie dish to the freezer to freeze for 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 350º. Remove the pie shell from the freezer and layer the blackberries in an even layer on the bottom. Pour in the filling and bake until lightly golden, 30 minutes. Cover with foil and continue to bake until the filling is set, 30 minutes more.
6. Let the pie cool completely, then slice and serve each slice with a spoon of the blackberry-moonshine drizzle over top.
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