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I was in North Carolina the first time I heard about vinegar pie, at a quaint bed and breakfast inn. The morning meal was excellent, fresh eggs from a local farm and sugar-cured ham, red-eye gravy, biscuits. The evening meal was just as good as breakfast, everything perfectly seasoned, perfectly prepared, and for dessert—vinegar pie.

Vinegar pie?

Yes, vinegar pie. Similar to chess or buttermilk pievinegar was used in Depression-era cooking when fruits like apples and lemons were not available, or more likely, not affordable. Vinegar's acidic properties add just enough of a tang to overcome what can be a cloying sweetness in the otherwise custard-y goodness of a chess or buttermilk pie.

I've included my never-fail pie crust recipe, which I make especially for this pie. It makes enough for two crusts and you only need one for this pie, but the pastry will keep just fine in the refrigerator for up to three days, and in the freezer for a month.

Trust me, as awful as vinegar pie sounds, it is that good.

VINEGAR PIE

(Serves 8-10)

For two 9-inch pie crusts:

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

½ c. (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

½ tsp. kosher salt

5 tbsp. + 2 tsp. ice cold water

Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Use a pastry cutter or large fork to cut in the butter until there are pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle ice cold water over mixture a tablespoon at a time, and stir to combine. Use your hands to press mixture together. Divide into two equal pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before using.

Filling:

4 large eggs

2 tbsp. white vinegar

1 ½ c. granulated sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, vinegar, sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla and salt; stir until well combined.

Remove pastry from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness, move to a prepared pie pan and trim excess pastry. Pour egg mixture into pastry, bake for 25 minutes or until set. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

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