Every time I hear the name of the magazine Garden & Gun — an absolutely fabulous and beautiful "Southern lifestyle" magazine that launched in 2007, featuring all things Southern in a stylish and smart manner, and to which I happen to subscribe — I want to violently shake whoever decided Garden & Gun (an obscure reference to a '70s disco in Charleston, SC) was a name that would attract people, as opposed to scare them away.
Yes, there are gun articles in almost every issue of Garden & Gun, but they are in the line of erudite articles about gun-loving Ernest Hemingway, or sentimental stories of bonding with a favorite hunting dog.
The other 95 percent of the magazine is about Southern art, food, gardens, architecture, design, history,and culture. If you're a Southerner living outside of the South like I am, there is almost always an article in each issue that touches upon a fond memory or place that is dear to one's heart. If you grew up in the South or live in the South, you should put Garden & Gun on your wish list, even if you will never touch a gun in your life. Trust me.
Now onto the pie.
The sweet tea pie recipe comes from Martha Hall Foose, a Southern-born pastry chef and cookbook author. Martha Hall Foose presents sweet tea pie in her James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, and she also contributed her sweet tea pie recipe to Nancy McDermot's cookbook, Southern Pies, but I came about the recipe in a newsletter from Garden & Gun (sign up here, if you like).
This recipe got immediately bookmarked, but, as always, I took a while to make it. Essentially, this pie puts a new Southern twist — sweet tea — on the traditional Southern chess pie. As one of the stories goes, chess pie got it's name when someone said the pie was "just pie" — because there ain't nothin' fancy is chess pie, just eggs, butter, and sugar — and at the end of the line "just pie" transmuted into chess pie.Martha Hall Foose's sweet tea pie gets it's sweet tea flavor from the addition of strong brewed tea in the pie batter. And that batter contains about twice as much butter — two sticks!! — than most chess pies, not to mention eight egg yolks. This ain't no diet pie!
And since this pie is so indulgent, I haven't made it again to perfect the recipe to my liking. I found the sweet tea flavor to be too subtle. The recipe only calls for 3/4 cup of strong brewed tea without suggesting how many tea bags to stick into 3/4 cup of water. I went with two (added another bag after I snapped the photo), thinking that would be plenty for such a small amount of liquid. I suggest more. How many? I don't know, but just use more.
I also found the lemon flavor to mask the subtlety of the tea. Next time, I'm using half, if not less than half the amount of lemon zest called for.
Also, this pie had to be baked for much longer than called for, but, in the end, the pie did set. The pie is even firmer the next day served chilled.
I'd like to try this pie again, but I certainly don't want to be left home alone with a two-stick-of-butter and eight-egg-yolk pie. Invite me to a picnic, and I'll make it for you!Sweet Tea Pie
adapted from Martha Hall Foose
makes 1 9-inch pie
pastry for a 9-inch single crust pie (store bought or basic pie crust)
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup strong brewed tea, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest (next time, I'm using 1/2 teaspoon or less)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with a mixer until fluffy.
- Add egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time, beating well after adding each egg yolk.
- Add tea, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the batter, and beat until mixed well.
- Add flour, cornmeal, and salt to the batter and stir in with a whisk until incorporated.
- Pour batter into the pie crust.
- Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven in the lower part of the oven (I suggest placing a baking sheet below the pie to catch spills) for 45 minutes (mine baked for 70 minutes), or until the edges are puffy and the center is firm.
- Cool pie completely before serving. (I enjoyed the pie best refrigerated the day after.)