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Chess Pie

A baked chess pie made with a pate sucree pastry.

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A southern, old-fashioned classic, this Chess Pie has an egg custard filling thickened slightly with cornmeal and bakes up in a buttery and sweet flaky pie crust. 

Ingredients

For the Pie Crust:

  • 1-1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons (130 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup (115 grams) cold water, more as needed

For the Chess Filling:

  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) cornmeal
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (226 grams) whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Add the flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Process for 30 seconds to combine and pulverize the sugar.
  3. Add in the butter and pulse 5 times.
  4. With the motor running pour in the cold water in a steady stream into the flour mixture. The dough should be crumbly and it should hold together when squeezed. If the dough is too dry drop in more water until it holds together.
  5. Empty the flour mixture onto a work surface and spread the mixture out into a rough horizontal line in front of you. Fraisage the dough by taking the heel of your hand smear a small pile of dough into a thin line. Repeat this process until most of your dough has been worked (see note) and the dough is cohesive.
  6. Using a bench scraper, scrape up the dough in chunks and stack it into a pile.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it stretches to the corner of the plastic wrap. 
  8. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or up to 3 days.
  9. Roll out the pie dough to an 11″ circle and line a 9” pie plate with it, crimping the edges as desired.
  10. Transfer the dough to the freezer to chill while you preheat the oven.
  11. Preheat the oven to 375 and place a rack on the lower and a rack in the middle part of the oven.
  12. Line the pie dough with a parchment round piece of paper and then add pie weights (or dry rice or beans or lentils), making sure to push pie weights to the edges. Bake for 20 minutes on the lower rack, then remove the parchment and pie weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the pie crust looks dry. Set aside until ready to use.
  13. Lower the heat to 350º.
  14. Melt the butter on the stove (or in the microwave) slowly and gently. Just before it is fully melted, take the butter off the heat and let the remaining butter melt.
  15. Add the sugar to a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter on top, and whisk together. Add in the cornmeal, eggs, and whisk to combine.
  16. Pour in the milk, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until fully combined, and then stop. Do not whisk more than is necessary.
  17. Pour the chess filling into the baked pie shell.
  18. Bake on the middle rack for 45-50 minutes, or until the custard has slightly browned, puffed up and is set throughout. If the crust is browning too quickly, cover it with a pie shield or aluminum foil. Do not let the pie overbake, be sure to monitor it towards the end of baking and pull it from the oven as soon as it sets up.
  19. Remove the pie from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.
  20. Serve the pie at room temperature or cold.

Notes

Have a question or looking for tips? The text written above the recipe is always a great first place to start! This Chess Pie was developed with love,  and I always include loads of explanations, tips, step-by-step photos and technical advice shared before the recipe.

Weighing your flour is the most accurate way to measure. If you aren't going to weigh it, make sure to spoon it into the cup, and then level it off. If you scoop the flour out with the measuring cup and then level, it could change the outcome of the final product.

Keywords: Chess Pie