One the 25th of December, Santa Claus came and gave my husband a lovely book - “Bread and butter” by Eve Hemingway, Grant Harrington, and Richard Snapes I went through it 10 times, grasping every word and picture that made me aware that I have saliva. Then I got to the section on cultured butter. I read it, remembering my grandmother’s sister churning butter when there was sweet cream in the house – and that was rarely.
It was Friday – fresh sweet cream and sour cream delivery day in my local organic shop, and that was it. I made my cultured butter. An amazing luxury that needs almost no effort, but the million dollar result makes me wonder, why on earth don’t I do this more often?
Whisking it slowly, then faster and at one point it just started to release the most divine buttermilk I’ve ever tasted – pale, creamy, and smooth. It was poured into a bottle with the idea to only make salad dressing. Then came the next day, when a sudden flash struck me, and I remembered wanting to make buttermilk pie for years. So I did. While the short crust pastry rested in the fridge, I studied, once again, the filling recipes – understanding the ingredients, techniques, tricks, and advice. And I made my own. After the first bite I knew, I had nailed it. I just had the most wonderful and tastiest buttermilk pie I have ever had – exactly the one. :) Not too sweet, with hints of orange and tonka; it was perfection that we continued to eat for three days.
210 g fine wheat flour
60 g corn flour
40 g golden caster sugar
pinch of sea salt
vanilla powder or paste to taste
¼ tsp ginger powder
200 g cold butter
50 - 70 ml milk
170 g Demerara sugar**
½ organic orange zest
1/3 vanilla bean, seeds only or tonka bean
pinch of sea salt
30 g corn flour (not starch, but flour)
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
80 g melted butter
375 ml buttermilk
Prepare the tart shell. In a bowl, pour the flours, sugar, salt, ginger powder, and if using, vanilla powder. Grate the butter on a course grater into the flour. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles course breadcrumbs. You can also prepare the dough in a food processor with the fine blade – add all the ingredients and process on medium speed until crumbly. Then add the milk, and if using, vanilla paste, and mix lightly until a smooth dough forms, but do not over-knead or the piecrust will not be crumbly, but hard. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough and place in a 25 – 27 cm tart form, pressing the sides and them trimming off the dough that overlaps the pan. Prick with a fork. Place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200°. Take the pan out of the freezer, line with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Place into the oven on the lowest level and bake for about 14 minutes. Take it out, lift out the paper with beans, and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.
In the mean time, in a bowl, put sugar, orange zest, salt, and tonka bea, corn flour and eggs. Whisk with a hand whisk. Then add butter, mixing slowly. Still mixing, add the buttermilk and mix in. Skim off the foam with a spoon, mix again if needed (as the sugar likes to sink). Take the baked tart shell out of the oven and pour in the filling and decorate the sides with some pastry leaves or flowers, if you wish.
Lower the temperature to 160°.
Transfer the pie to the middle of the oven and bake for around 40 – 45 minutes until the sides of the pie are set and puffed up, but the middle is still quite wobbly. You don’t want to over bake, or the pie will separate in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely for 2-3 hours at room temperature and then for a few hours in the fridge. You can eat it warm, but I prefer cold.
Recipe and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s