Scroll to bottom for the recipe if you want to skip the story behind the pie.
We have a family tradition, several actually, but one that is always kept is the making of Mom's Buttermilk Pie. She would make about six of these pies up in the summer and then freeze them for the holidays. Some times it would be enough, most times not. Life has a way of changing it's course and running along new directions which really tend to make the new voyage a bit apprehensive until one manages to get a new set of landmarks that then become familiar enough that the traveler can once again navigate the road. One such journey is age. My mom was living alone and after thinking it over she decided she would let us move her to the town we live in so she could be closer to me. This is a woman that was strong enough to leave everything she knew, for the last 30 years or so, behind and starting over in a new home, new town, new people all around. Her last few months of that journey was spent living in a bedroom in my home before she peacefully went on her final journey. But, some memories, some traditions, just keep on going because they are a comfort to those who grew up with them. This pie is one.
Now, as I go older and found the internet, and then Google, I had occasions to do a search for this recipe. I am notorious for not being able to keep up with a recipe card, a written piece of paper, or even the local church cookbook that thankfully has Mom's recipe printed in it. I was not really surprised at all the versions of this pie, you know the only thing different is in the ratio of the ingredients. I was however surprised to discover that this is a southern dish. I grew up thinking every one had buttermilk pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brother in law, a Texas native, Hispanic in ethnicity, had never heard of this pie when he joined the family. He went crazy over it, once he tasted it. Funny how the word buttermilk turns so many people off. Now we live in California and my youngest two children have made it there personal mission in life to introduce this sweet dish to as many people as possible. I was quite shocked to find that of all the searches I ever did, I never came across a recipe like mom's, which was passed down from her family. I had actually come to the conclusion at one point that my Aunt Vera must have given her the recipe and just left out a few ingredients (which she was famous for, that way you could not duplicate her dish exactly as she makes it) but I was never able to find out just which side of the family that recipe actually came from. Mom's recipe has no salt and no flour. I believe that the German Amish roots is where it comes from, but pure speculation on my part. At any rate, Mom's recipe works, everyone loves it, so why try and change it?
For those who don't know, have never heard of it, never tried it, buttermilk pie is a custard or chess type pie. Don't let the word buttermilk scare you off either. While some of my worst tasting memories are of my dad pouring me buttermilk in a glass instead of regular milk, in a recipe buttermilk imparts a rich creamy sweet taste that is actually low fat. My parents were born in the 20's, lived through the great depression, and both lived in the country. That generation of those type of people grew up drinking buttermilk. My dad grew up in West Texas, ate anything that they could grow or get cheaply. His dad was a farmer, not a very successful farmer as he had was would be termed "wonder lust" as he liked to move around a bit. My mom grew up in South Texas, near Victoria, her dad raised turkeys. They also always had a few steers, hogs and chickens they raised for personal use as well as a big vegetable garden. Her only experience with moving was during each school year as she would live with one of two sisters each school year and then summers back with her dad. They lived too far from the local school for her to attend, she came a long late in life so the sisters were all much older than she was and her mother passed away when she was about 2 years old. Now that you have had the history lesson behind this dish, here is the recipe. It is still made, by me, for all holidays, big family meals or just when one of the kids wants some fork fed comfort.
Makes one pie
1 pie crust, unbaked (deep dish works well)
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 stick good grade oleo, melted
3 eggs, added whole and mixed well
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (if desired)
Blend buttermilk, sugar, and oleo. Add eggs whole and mix well. Add remaining ingredients except cinnamon. Pour in to unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until firm.
Oleo is the same as margarine - definitely use a good brand for this. It does make a difference - do not use butter.
Preheat the oven. Watch the pie, it is easy to brown the crust too much.
In my opinion, eggs are getting smaller, so make sure you have 3 good size (like x-large) eggs.
The cinnamon is gently sprinkled on top before putting in the oven, can be left off. We like it with.
If you use a spoon to sprinkle a bit of sugar across the top of the pie it makes a nice little crispy layer that my kids seem to like. I have make it both ways.