The whey pie is rich in history and somewhat rich in flavor. A kind of custard pie, this type of dessert comes from the southern regions of the United States. Made primarily of buttermilk and a cookie-like crust, buttermilk pie can be served plain or with additional flavors.
While it is often called by other names such as buttermilk chess pie or simply chess pie, there is a difference between authentic chess pies and buttermilk pies. Chess pies contain cornmeal and occasionally corn syrup, which helps the pie achieve the desired jelly-like consistency. Chess pie is similar to vinegar pie or walnut pie, although walnut pie clearly has the addition of walnuts. These pies are all very sugary, usually with the addition of vanilla. Crème brûlée is another rich dessert, often compared to buttermilk pie, although it is also much sweeter than the traditional southern dessert.
Alternatively, the buttermilk pie doesn’t use cornmeal or corn syrup, nor as much sugar as the aforementioned pies. Instead, buttermilk is used, giving the pie a sour, tangy flavor rather than an extremely sweet taste. While the final pie product doesn’t taste sour, the buttermilk itself tastes slightly sour before it’s added to additional ingredients. After all, this type of milk is made by adding acid cultures to the milk, which make it curdle. Internationally, buttermilk can still be made naturally by bottling the liquid left behind after the churning process. North America uses a more modern process, however.
A time-honored delicacy in the southern states of America along the Mason-Dixon line, Texans claim to be particularly fond of buttermilk pie. Their reasoning – and the reasoning of people in other states lacking local fruit growers – is that buttermilk pie is a sweet alternative to fruit pie when fruit is not always available. Many people, however, add fruit or other flavors to their buttermilk pies. Famous and home-cooked chefs alike make chocolate buttermilk tarts and caramel, as well as fruit-topped buttermilk tarts. The traditional recipe does not call for vanilla or lemon zest, although these ingredients are often added to the pie in the 21st century.
After the ingredients are mixed and the crust pressed into the pan or pie pan, the pie is baked. Made with a traditional pie crust or a cookie-like crust for a more breakfast-like feel, buttermilk pie is relatively easy to prepare. Some people bake the pie without a crust, although these chefs need to carefully watch the baking process so they don’t pull the pie out of the oven before it solidifies. The buttermilk pie should be a dark golden brown on top.