Also known as Buttermilk Pie, Magnolia Pie is a dessert I re-discovered last Thanksgiving when my sister-in-law served one she’d bought from a lady in Llano, TX. I don’t know the lady’s name or what buttermilk pie recipe she used, but my family was crazy for it. It’s a Southern favorite, yet flies under the radar. Like Chess Pie, Buttermilk Pie is dead-easy to make. It’s tart and smooth like cheesecake and much less sweet tasting than its cousin Chess. Anyhow, I made a mental note to try making a buttermilk pie, then forgot about it until I came across the Magnolia version.
The name Magnolia Pie got my attention and I was determined to make one, but didn’t know where to begin. My last buttermilk pie was decent (unlike the photo), but it had pecans. And as much as I love pecans, I wanted something smoother and more basic. And that’s exactly what I got with this recipe.
Magnolia Pie or Buttermilk Pie Comparisons
The most popular version and what appears to be the “classic” version of buttermilk pie calls for 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 1 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of butter, but a lot of reviewers said it was too sweet. And then there was the issue of the lemon, which also had mixed reviews. I love lemon, but wanted to use my Nielsen Massey vanilla bean paste and worried the lemon and vanilla bean might clash. So it was back to the sugar issue. Should I go with the classic 1 1/2 cup sugar and 3 egg version or do like so many people did and knock out 1/2 cup sugar? And wouldn’t that change the whole structure of the pie? I thought about that a lot this morning and wasn’t sure what to do, but Mother Nature made the decision for me.
Buttermilk Powder to the Rescue!
I was about to go to the store for buttermilk when it started to rain. Not wanting to drive in the rain, it occurred to me that Saco, the powdered buttermilk company, might have a recipe on their site and I could use that. Unlike regular buttermilk, I almost always have powdered buttermilk in the refrigerator.
Now I wish we could fast forward to Thanksgiving so I could present this pie to my in-laws. They’d love it — powdered buttermilk and all. I’m definitely going to try a pie with regular buttermilk, but this version was great — not grainy, smooth, flavorful, and not overly sweet even with all the sugar. I think my overly thick, hacked together pastry crust helped tamper any sweetness, so all was well. And my decision to leave out the lemon was validated my Saco, as their recipe doesn’t call for any lemon either. They use vanilla and nutmeg, so the pie kind of tastes like eggnong. Here’s the recipe. I’m going to try a few more, but this one was very good and super convenient thanks to the powdered buttermilk.
- 1 9-inch pie crust not deep dish
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (56 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt omit if using salted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons powdered buttermilk (such as Saco)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Garnish: Lightly sweetened whipped cream & fresh berries
- Preheat oven to 350°. Have your pie shell ready to go. By that I mean, unbaked and perhaps sitting on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Whisk the sugar and butter together until smooth.
- Whisk in the eggs, one by one, until mixture is smooth. If you are using salt, add that too.
- Mix the buttermilk powder and flour in a small bowl, then add to the egg mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in nutmeg, vanilla bean paste and water until smooth.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until almost set. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool 1 hour.
- Chill thoroughly before serving (or not — I like things chilled, but some prefer room temperature).
Thank you. I will give it a try soon.
Bonnie, I didn’t think this pie was too sweet, but each bite has a high ratio of thick crust, so I think the thick, unsweetened crust I threw together might have balanced things out. But I think if you wanted to cut the sugar, you could safely cut it by a third. The reason is that a lot of recipes that call for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 3 eggs and a cup of buttermilk have reviews from people saying they cut the sugar to 1 cup. So if you made this recipe you’d want to cut the sugar to 2/3 cup.
I had this pie for the first time recently. I loved the taste but it was way too sweet. How little sugar could I use and still get a decent pie? I must mention that I am diabetic and should not even consider sweets but……..that pie, yummmm. Bonnie
Perfect. Thank you – that is exactly what needed to know!
Depends on what I’m making. For instance, what kind of homemade buttermilk do you mean? Actual buttermilk that comes off when you’re making butter or “mock” buttermilk or soured milk where you just add lemon or vinegar to milk? I made some true buttermilk the other day while making butter and noticed it wasn’t as tangy as store bought. The lemon or vinegar added type works in a pinch and helps the leavening agents, but it doesn’t give you the right flavor. As for powder, it’s the best of all worlds because it’s convenient, adds flavor and has the acidic component. But of the three I like actual buttermilk from the store the best.
I guess it depends on what you are making, but do you notice a difference between buttermilk, powdered, and homemade buttermilk?