A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 11, 2007
Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk pie is popular all over the South, but it’s especially popular in Texas. In West Texas—where there’s not always enough fruit for fruit pies—buttermilk pie is a classic dessert. Buttermilk is also popularly used in buttermilk salad dressing, and buttermilk even lends itself to the cocktail name of “border buttermilk” (tequila sour).

The buttermilk pie is often compared to another Texas favorite, the chess pie. “Butter-milk pie” was cited in a Texas newspaper as early as 1867.


Wikipedia: Buttermilk
Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product produced from cow’s milk with a characteristically sour taste. There are two ways in which this product is made. In the original, “traditional” method, buttermilk is recovered as the liquid left over from the process of churning butter from cream. More commonly, however, “buttermilk” refers to what is also known as “cultured buttermilk.” This product begins as milk, to which lactic acid bacteria is then added. Whether traditional or cultured, the tartness of buttermilk is due to a higher acidity than unfermented milk. Most of the increased acidity can be attributed to lactic acid, the natural fermentation product of the major sugar in milk, lactose. The fermentation is largely accomplished by one or more types of lactic acid bacteria.

Kitchen Dictionary
buttermilk
Cultured buttermilk is probably the easiest and most fool proof fermented milk product to make nothing more than the tart liquid left after the butter is churned. Buttermilk is low in fat. It’s sometimes tolerated by people with lactose intolerance since some of the lactose is fermented by bacteria. The acidity of buttermilk also explains its long refrigerator shelf life. Slightly sour in taste. It is quite popular as a coolant in India and a variant called lassi is sold commercially.

About.com: Home Cookng
Buttermilk History
In days gone by, nothing went to waste in the standard homestead, and this included the liquid leftover after churning butter. Combined with natural airborne bacteria, this liquid thickened and soured, taking on a pleasingly tangy flavor. The resulting buttermilk made an excellent addition to biscuits, pancakes, and baked goods.

23 February 1867, Dallas (TX) Herald, pg. 2:
BUTTER-MILK PIE.—Three pints of butter-milk, two eggs, four tablespoonsful of flour stirred into the milk and half a nutmeg. Stir well together and bake like a custard pie.—Ex.

Feeding America
Buckeye Cookery
by Estelle Woods Wilcox
Minneapolis, MN: Buckeye Pub. Co.
1877
Pg. 186:
BUTTERMILK PIE.
Beat together a heaping cup sugar and four eggs; add half cup butter, beat thoroughly, and add one and a half pints buttermilk; line the pie-tins with crust, slice an apple thin, and lay in each pie, fill the crust with the mixture, and bake with no upper crust.

3 August 1878, Burlington (Iowa) Weekly Hawkeye, pg. 7, col. 1:
Buttermilk Pie—One cup sugar, two cups buttermilk, two eggs, two tablespoonfuls flour, two tablespoonfuls butter, flavor with lemon. This makes two pies. 

Google Books
La Cuisine Creole
by Lafcadio Hearn
second edition
New Orleans: F. F. Hansell & Bro., Ltd.
1885
Pg. 188:
BUTTERMILK PIE-CRUST—VERY WHOLESOME.
Take a pint of buttermilk, add one large teacupful of lard, one teaspoonful of salt, and a teaspoonful of soda and flour enough to form a soft dough. Mix the lard and flour by rubbing them together; then add the other ingredients. This is a tender and good pie-crust. 

5 November 1887, Stevens Point (WI) Gazette, pg. 2, col. 5:
Buttermilk Pie: One cup buttermilk, one cup sugar, six tablespoonfuls butter, six tablespoonfuls flour. Flavor to taste.—Good Cheer.

14 November 1893, Decatur (IL) Daily Republican, pg. 6, col. 2:
Buttermilk pie is made by substituting buttermilk for sweet milk in custard pie; to the writer it is much more appetizing. 

Google Books
Kentucky Receipt Book
by Mary Harris Frazer
Louisville, KY: Press of the Bradley & Gilbert Company
1903
Pg. 215:
Buttermilk Pie.
Take 1 pint of buttermilk, add to it 1 teacup of granulated sugar, 1 kitchen spoon butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, beat well. Have 2 pie crusts ready and fill with the mixture, and set in moderate oven to bake.

21 August 1905, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. 9:
I inclose a recipe for buttermilk pie. The pie is better than its name indicates:
One-half cup sugar, tablespoon flour, pinch of salt, enough good, fresh buttermilk to form a paste; add 1 cup buttermilk, flavor with nutmeg; bake with one crust.
AUNT BELLE.

5 May 1910, Gulfport (MS) Daily Herald, pg. 6:
Buttermilk Pie.
Beat to a cream half a cupful of butter and two cupfuls of sugar. Add two well beaten eggs and four tablespoonfuls of sifted flour. Beat until perfectly smooth, and then add one pint of freshly churned buttermilk. Mix thoroughly and bake in two crusts. 

21 August 1910, Wilkes Barre (PA) Times-Leader, pg. 11:
BUTTERMILK PIE
A buttermilk pie is made by some women and looked upon as a delicious change from the usual apple, peach and lemon, which are always tasty, but sometimes become notorious. A buttermilk pie is made by rubbing together two tablespoons of flour, three-fourths cup of sugar and pinch of salt. Into this slowly stir one pint of buttermilk, flavor with nutmeg and bake in one crust.

16 July 1911, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. 5:
Buttermilk Pie—One and one-half cupfuls of buttermilk, one heaping cupful of sugar, one cupful of chopped raisins, one tablespoonful of strong vinegar, two well beaten eggs, one and one-half teaspoonfuls of flour or cornstarch, one-half teaspoonful each of cinnamon and cloves, and a little nutmeg. Bake in two crusts, which should be rich and flaky. This quantity is sufficient for two pies.
(From Good Housekeeping Magazine—ed.)

10 March 1913, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pg. 4:
RECIPE FOR BUTTERMILK PIE.
This recipe for buttermilk pie has been in use for over 100 years and is well worth trying: One egg, two large teaspoonfuls of flour, one pint of buttermilk (fresh), one scant cup of sugar; beat the egg until light, add the sugar and flour, and enough of the buttermilk to make a thick batter; beat until smooth, then add the rest of the buttermilk; bake with one crust in a hot oven; a little baking powder in the crust is an improvement for this kind of pie.—National Magazine.

Google Books
Texas Highways Cookbook
by Joanne Smith
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
1991
Pg. 86:
Texas Buttermilk Pie
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of nutmeg (optional)
unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix sugar and flour together until fine. Add cooled butter, beaten eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and nutmeg if desired. Mix and pour into pie shell. Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees F.; turn temperature down to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake until the pie sets, about 40 minutes. Cool on rack; do not cut while hot.

Google Books
Cooking Texas Style: Tenth Anniversary Edition
by Candy Wagner and Sandra Marquez
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
1993
Pg. 226:
Buttermilk Pie
A smooth, creamy, delicious pie, and a recipe worth trying—despite any preconceived notions you may have about buttermilk. Originally this pie was a makeshift dessert for times when the pantry or cellar was bare and there were no fruits in season. It has now become much more—a classic Texas dessert.

NPR
Kitchen Window by Natalie Y. Moore
Buttermilk Pie: An Unexpectedly Sweet Treat
NPR.org, February 15, 2006 ยท
Buttermilk pie is a traditional Southern delicacy. As two friends from Tennessee and South Carolina informed me, it’s “nothin’ but chess pie,” a similar custard delight.

Buttermilk is thick, slightly paler than eggnog, and yes, it’s tart. There is no butter in buttermilk: It’s actually low-fat or non-fat milk that has been fermented by various bacterias, in a process similar to the way yogurt is made.

But it’s good for so many things. It makes a fine batter for frying chicken and a tenderizing marinade for any chicken. Substituting buttermilk for milk will make homemade rolls and cornbread tender, mashed potatoes just faintly tangy, and of course, pancakes light and fluffy.

But nowhere is buttermilk better used than in a pie. Mixed with traditional baking ingredients—eggs, melted butter, sugar, flour and a good splash of vanilla—the buttermilk gives the pie a unique flavor. You just have to try it. 

The Texas Cowboy Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
New York, NY: Broadway Books
2007
Pg. 202:
Marilyn Johnson’s Buttermilk-Lemon Pie
Buttermilk is an old favorite in West Texas where they never had much fresh fruit. The creamy tartness of buttermilk and the citrus tang of lemon combine to make a wonderfully light, tasty pie.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 11, 2007 • Permalink