Although it was the pie my Grandfather named as such an ultimately tasty treat many years ago, I only just now bought my large jug of buttermilk and went home ready to experience this pie. From when I finally looked up what was in it-cornmeal, eggs, lots of delicious buttermilk, and some bright citrus- I knew Grandfather had been right to take such a tone with us. It is so much more that just goop.
It is a lusciously gentle lemon custard, just slightly and pleasantly textured by a small amount of cornmeal. The filling is reminiscent of a southern grain style pudding which is then baked inside a perfectly, flakey, buttery crust. The buttermilk gives the classic smooth, buttery, goodness so characteristic of its presence in baking. However, the biggest and most welcomed surprise was the top of the custard. Instead of being soft and pudding like, the sugar and cornmeal form an extremely thin sugar top crust. Therefore, when you first tap your fork down over the top to sink in, there is the smallest and most satisfying crunch. This is the Southern pie the majority of America still needs to find out about, because it is just gosh darn delicious. Thank you Grandfather for being the sage of pie eating, even when your younger generations were clueless!
Very slightly adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day
1 9-10" unbaked pie crust (I used Back in the Day's but pick your favorite)
4 TBSP (1/2 Stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 C sugar
1 TBSP all purpose flour
2 TBSP yellow cornmeal
1 pinch of fine sea salt
3/4 C buttermilk (low-fat)
1 TBSP lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 of an orange and 1/2 a lemon
Oven Temp: Start 350 (first 10 minutes), down to 325 (last 45-55 minutes)
2. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter with a hand mixer (or paddle attachment in your stand mixer) until it is light and fluffy.
4. Add in the eggs in, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated.
5. Add the flour, cornmeal, and salt and beat on low until just incorporated.
6. Add the lemon juice, buttermilk, and zest and mix to combine.
7. Remove the crust from the fridge, pour in the mixture and bake at 350 F for the first 10 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 325 and continue to cook for 45-50 minutes, until the filling is set.