Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lemon Buttermilk Pie with Saffron

And here’s another dessert – I swear I’ll throw in a savory dish soon! I got the recipe in Bon Appétit. I knew the Engineer would like the saffron in here, and I was looking forward to a pie that was more custardy than lemony. About the buttermilk: real buttermilk isn’t lactose-free, so I used reduced-fat lactose-free milk instead, reasoning that the pie has enough lemon juice to compensate for the substitution. It’s not as tangy as the real thing, but what you have to keep in mind is this: the buttermilk that you’d find in most grocery stores isn’t the real thing either! Grocery stores usually sell milk that has been mixed with an acidic agent to have the pH of buttermilk (and this is what I do at home to substitute). Real buttermilk could probably be found at some natural food stores or farmers’ markets, though again, it isn’t lactose-free. I loved my version of the pie, though! It wowed me with its pillowy, custardy, lemony filling with undertones of saffron. It was a hit with the Engineer as well!

For the buttermilk pie dough
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup buttermilk (or lactose-free milk with a splash of lemon juice)

For the filling and assembly
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more
6 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1¼ cups buttermilk (or just lactose-free milk, see above)
1¼ cups sugar
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. kosher salt
pinch of saffron threads
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted, cooled slightly
whipped Kineret (optional, for serving)

For the buttermilk pie dough
Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Transfer to a large bowl (I confess I kept using the food processor here) and add buttermilk. Mix with a fork, adding more buttermilk by the tablespoon if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together; knead very lightly until no dry spots remain. Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 4 hours.

For the filling and assembly
Preheat oven to 325 °F. Roll out pie dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14” round. Transfer to a 9” pie dish, allowing dough to slump down into dish. Trim dough, leaving about 1” overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Prick bottom all over with a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.

Line crust with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is dry around the edge, 20–25 minutes. Remove parchment and weights; bake until surface looks dry, 10–12 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, blend egg yolks, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and saffron in a blender until smooth. With motor running, add 2 Tbsp. flour, then butter. Tap blender jar against countertop to burst any air bubbles in filling and pour into warm crust.

Bake pie, rotating halfway through and covering edges with foil if they brown too much before filling is done, until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly, 55–65 minutes. (Mine baked for 60 minutes, with protection on the edges the whole time.) Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let pie cool. Serve pie with whipped Kineret, if desired.

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