Maple collection happens in late winter, just as the ice begins to melt, so technically, maple syrup is an ingredient that comes about in early spring, but we also love using this flavor in the fall for this maple buttermilk pie. Make sure you use pure, fresh maple syrup—never imitation—for this pie. We like to use a very dark grade B syrup for its more robust maple flavor.–Emily and Melissa Elsen
LC Maple Buttermilk Pie Love Note
At once silken, creamy, tangy, and sweet, this maple buttermilk pie caused more than one of our recipe testers to liken its taste not to pumpkin pie but cheesecake. Cheesecake with a maple lilt. It’s worth nothing this recipe is a far more pantry- and pocketbook-friendly option than actual cheesecake. (Any pure maple syrup will do, although the creators of this recipe have a soft, sticky spot in their hearts for Poorfarm Farm’s small-batch, hand-harvested maple syrup from Vermont. You can get your hands on this sticky, sweet maple goo, too, via mail order from Poorfarm Farm.)
Maple Buttermilk Pie
For the crust
- 1 recipe single-crust pie crust, unbaked
- 1 large egg white
- 1 teaspoon cold water
For the maple buttermilk custard
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon stone-ground white cornmeal
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 cup maple syrup preferably very dark maple syrup
- 1 cup buttermilk
Blind bake the crust
- Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight to give the crust time to mellow. (The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
- Once the dough has been chilled, roll it out and shape it and drape it in a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp the edge, if desired. Use a fork to prick the bottom and sides of the dough 15 to 20 times. Place the crust in the freezer until frozen, about 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Position the oven rack in the bottom and center positions and place a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack.
- When the crust is frozen firm, line it tightly with a piece or 2 of aluminum foil. Make sure the edges are completely covered and there are no gaps between the foil and the crust. Pour pie weights or beans into the pan and spread them so they are concentrated more around the edge of the shell than in the center. Place the pan on the preheated baking sheet and bake on the oven’s center rack for 20 minutes, until crimped edges are set but not browned.
- Remove the pan and the baking sheet from the oven, lift out the foil and pie weights, and let the crust cool for a minute. Whisk the egg white with the water in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides of the crust with a thin layer of the egg white glaze to moisture-proof the crust. Return the pan, on the baking sheet, to the oven’s center rack and continue baking for 3 more minutes. Let the pie crust cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the maple buttermilk custard and assemble the pie
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Place the prebaked pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Add the vanilla extract or paste and the sour cream and stir until smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add the maple syrup and buttermilk and mix until smooth. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell, or strain it into a separate bowl and then pour it into the shell.
- Bake the pie, again on the center rack, for 45 to 55 minutes total, rotating 180° when the edges start to set, which should happen after 30 to 35 minutes. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still quite wobbly. (The filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven.) Be careful not to overbake the pie or the custard can separate.
- Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or cool. The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days or at room temperature for 1 day.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This maple buttermilk pie comes out of the oven puffed up like a quiche or soufflé, but settles down during cooling. The flavor of the filling is sweet and buttery with a hint of maple. The buttermilk provides an almost lemony depth of flavor to the sweetness of the pie. It had a silky, creamy texture reminiscent of cheesecake but not as heavy. (I was completely out of sour cream but had some crème fraiche in my fridge. I made the swap and the custard was divine.) This is a unique pie that kept enticing me to take “just one more” bite. The flavor is so good, you could use a store-bought crust and no one would notice.
The custard in this maple buttermilk pie was tangy and sweet at the same time, kind of like a good cheesecake. The tang of the sour cream and buttermilk contrasted nicely with the sweet maple flavor. The texture was velvety and smooth, with a slightly caramelized top surface. I might cut the brown sugar down just a tad next time to make it just a bit less sweet. Also next time—and there will be a next time—I will make this as a stand-alone custard. With a few tweaks, this will become one of my favorite desserts.
This maple buttermilk pie isn’t a showstopper dessert in terms of looks or taste. It’s more akin to the reliable friend that you invite back again and again. I thought the pie tasted fondly of cheesecake. The filling was very forgiving—on more than one occasion, I thought I had erred, but my concerns were unfounded. The finished pie was beautiful and well-received by our guests. We served this on Thanksgiving along with the usual suspects—pecan, pumpkin, and apple—and despite being up against these stronger flavors, this pie was nonetheless a favorite. I used a regular pie plate and noticed the filling far exceeded what I would recommend adding. I did, in fact, pour off a good cup of filling, and it wasn’t missed. The filling rose nicely in the pie plate, teetering on the edge of overflowing, but it was only a harmless flirtation—it remained in the crust and nary a drop was wasted.
At the very last minute, I was placed in charge of Thanksgiving desserts, and this maple buttermilk pie recipe seemed to hit the mark. While I’m not typically a custard pie kind of gal, this was like a nice cross between cheesecake and cream pie. I will say that I actually enjoyed it much more on the days following baking it. It’s hard to say why, but when I tried a slice on Thanksgiving (i.e. the same day as baking it), it was a touch too rich and the maple flavor didn’t really show up as much as I thought it would. When I tasted it again on subsequent days, the maple flavor seemed more pronounced. In the future, I think I’d bake this at least a day in advance, and maybe serve it a bit chilled. My baking times differed all around, but it seemed that this may just be the way my oven works, considering my cooking times always seem to be significantly longer. The final bake for me was 60 to 70 minutes total before the custard seemed properly set around the edges and a bit wobbly in the middle. The egg wash on the crust resulted in a beautiful golden crust with a fantastic sheen. It was a hit with everyone at dinner and pretty strongly won me over as time went on. This could be a festive addition to any holiday menu!
Originally published November 05, 2015