I am not known for my pie baking skills, I make the ice cream and left that part of the meal to my friend, Kathy. Known for her blue ribbon prize winning pie skills, naming only one of her many talents, she could whip up a pie to compliment any occasion or cuisine. Sadly, Kathy lost her battle of many years to cancer just two weeks ago. She fought a long and ardous ordeal with amazing courage and dignity. So naturally the first dinner we were going to have with our closest friends and family after her passing, I decided to make a pie. What’s the big deal? It’s just a pie, don’t overthink it, just make it. I found a recipe in Bon Appetit, a lemon buttermilk pie with saffron. A bit different, Kathy’s pies were fruit filled, not custard types, so technically I was doing my own thing.
Buttermilk was the star of the dessert recipes in this article and it was in both the crust and the filling. I made my pie dough Friday evening and everything seemed okay, I didn’t overwork it and formed it into a disc to roll out the next day. The directions called for the crust to be rolled out on a well floured surface. I decided to roll mine between layers of waxed paper, I read somewhere that made it easier to transfer it to the pie pan. It got a bit “wrinkly” and fearing it would stick, I transferred the rolled out dough back to the freezer before peeling it off the waxed paper. The transfer was successful and I trimmed it and made my not so pretty crimped edges. Then I pricked it with a fork and placed it back in the freezer to relax before the blind baking. Blind baking is pre baking the pie crust so that it doesn’t get soggy, important when you are going to add a custard filling. Blind baking accomplished, my only concern was that the bottom of the crust was just a tad too brown.
The custard filling was easy to whip up in the blender but it looked like there would be more filling than the pie shell would handle. But I trudged ahead, believing something magical would happen when I poured it into the pie shell. It did, custard all over the counter, a ruined soggy crust and I moved my hand the wrong way, sending a new plate I just bought into the air and into several pieces on the ground. Score that one, pie one, me zero.
Determined, I was not going to give up on this, no pie would defeat me, so I made the crust recipe again and found a deeper pie plate to accomodate the filling. Rolling out, baking and filling would wait until Sunday, the day I would serve the pie. In the mean time I watched videos on the proper way to roll out pie crust and how to properly crimp the edge to make a beautiful pie.
I had all the ingredients I needed to make pie number two, I just needed the heavy cream to make whipped cream to accompany it. Joe asked if I should get a “back-up” dessert, just in case. I said no, no safety net here, well I guess if things turned out real bad I would just get some ice cream at the CVS. The rolling went extremely well, this time directly on the counter as the recipe suggested, out from the center, then continual 90 degree turns. I kept rolling until the dough was 4 inches larger in diameter than my pan. No problem transferring the dough to the pan, I trimmed and made reasonably pretty edges for the crust.
Now the blind baking. I pricked the crust all over, chilled it, placed a layer of foil and filled it with pie weights. What happened next I’m not exactly sure. I removed the weights and foil from the crust to finish baking. Much to my horror and dismay the edges of the crust started to shrink back in the pan. I put the foil and weights back in, hoping to salvage the crust and save a trip to the CVS.
It didn’t turn out that bad but wouldn’t be featured in Pie Weekly, if there was such a publication. I added the custard, carefully transferring the pie plate on the baking sheet back into the oven. The perfect pie in Bon Appetit was pale, nicely crimped with flecks of saffron showing up here and there. My pie filling was considerably darker, Joe pointed out that I baked in convection mode, that was why. The pie was not perfect, but still tasted good. And my pursuit of pie making will not end with this attempt, Kathy would have approved.
Ingredients for the pie filling.
Lemon Buttermilk Pie with Saffron
From Bon Appetit
Ingredients for Buttermilk Pie Dough
- 1 1/4c all purpose flour
- 1T sugar
- 1/2t kosher salt
- 1/2c (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1/4c buttermilk
Ingredients for Filling and Assembly
- 2T all purpose flour, plus more
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4c buttermilk
- 1 1/4c sugar
- 1T finely grated lemon zest
- 1/3c fresh lemon juice
- 1/4t kosher salt
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 2T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- Whipped cream, for serving
Directions for Buttermilk Pie Dough
- Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.
- Transfer to a large bowl and add buttermilk. Mix with a fork, adding more buttermilk by the tablespoon if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together. Knead lightly until no dry spots remain. Pat into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 4 hours. Dough can be made 2 days ahead, keep chilled.
Directions for filling and assembly
- Preheat oven to 325F. Roll out pie dough on lightly floured surface to a 14″ round. Transfer to a 9″ pie dish, allowing dough to slump down into dish. Trim dough, leaving about 1″ overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Prick bottom all over with a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.
- Line crust with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is dry around the edge, 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and weights; bake until surface looks dry, 10-12 minutes longer.
- For the filling, blend egg yolks, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and saffron in a blender until smooth. With motor running, add 2T flour, then the melted butter. Tap blender jar against countertop to burst any air bubbles in filling and pour into warm crust.
- Bake pie, rotating halfway through and covering edges with foil if they brown too much before filling is done, filling should be set around the edges but the center will jiggle slightly, 55-65 minutes.
- Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let pie cool. Serve pie with whipped cream.
- Pie can be baked 2 days ahead. Keep at room temperature up to 6 hours, cover and chill to hold longer.