Brown sugar buttermilk pie with bourbon brown sugar sauce

Pie is a must-have for Thanksgiving, but you don’t necessarily have to stick with pumpkin, pecan or apple… or limit yourself to one. This brown sugar buttermilk concoction is a little non-traditional, but with the custardy consistency of pumpkin pie and a bourbon-brown sugar sauce reminiscent of pecan pie, it would make a perfect addition to the holiday dessert table.

And don’t worry if you can’t find buttermilk where you live. Just check out Joy the Baker’s post about buttermilk substitutes.

pie crust holes in crust


I tried a new pie crust recipe (it involves vodka), and it worked beautifully: It was perfectly flaky despite the fact that I messed up the first time I rolled it out, so I had to smoosh it back together and roll it out again. You can definitely use a frozen pie crust, or whatever pie crust recipe/method you prefer, but regardless, you’ll have to bake it for a bit before you pour the filling in.

brown sugar and eggs adding buttermilk

And while some pies can be a bit fussy, this filling is super easy to make. Just whisk together a few ingredients, add some brown butter (yum!) and pour it in the crust.

melting butter bubbling butter

I had been wanting to make buttermilk pie since tasting that amazingly delicious version in Austin a few months ago, and while this is also really good, it’s not quite the same as the other one. While that had a lighter flavor with a crispy/flaky top layer and just a bit of a gooey center, this is richer and has a more custard-like texture throughout.

brown sugar buttermilk pie

The pie is good on its own — the brown sugar and brown butter give it a caramely quality — but it’s even better with this bourbon sauce. The pecans are optional, but the bourbon isn’t, so you may want to try a different sauce (or just some fruit) if you don’t want alcohol with your dessert.

making bourbon sauce bourbon brown sugar sauce

I recently got some new dessert plates that I thought would be perfect for this, with all the butter and eggs and sugar…

dessert plate

But the buttermilk is low-fat. That counts for something, right?

brown sugar buttermilk pie with bourbon sauce

You’re probably going to want to put buttermilk (or a good substitute) on your grocery list now.

buttermilk pie with pecans

Brown sugar buttermilk pie with bourbon brown sugar sauce (Crust adapted from Food52, pie adapted from Martha Stewart, sauce adapted from an old edition of the Joy of Cooking)
Pie crust (If you’d rather use a food processor, click here for instructions)
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons vodka, cold
2 tablespoons ice water

Cut the butter into 1/4-inch slices and cut the shortening into pieces, then put into the freezer for a minute or two. Whisk or stir together with a fork the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl.

Add the butter and shortening pieces to the flour mixture and use a pastry blender to incorporate it until all the flour is coated with butter or shortening and the mixture looks like cottage cheese (the mixture will be clumping a bit, but there shouldn’t be big pieces of butter left).

Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure you didn’t neglect any flour or butter bits. Drizzle the cold vodka and water over the dough and use the spatula (in a folding-like motion) to incorporate it until the dough sticks together.

Use your hands to gather the all dough together and wrap it in plastic, then flatten out the dough ball a bit and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (overnight or even 2 days is fine).

When you’re ready to assemble the pie, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a clean, floured surface.

Loosely roll it around the rolling pin and then unroll it over a 9-inch pie plate, then arrange it so it isn’t stretched but hangs over the sides of the pie plate a bit. making sure it isn’t stretched and hangs over the sides of the pie plate a bit.

Shape the edges of the pie (I pressed a fork around the sides, but you could also try refrigerating the pie for 15-20 minutes and then using your fingers to make a fluted pattern around the sides). Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the pie crust, then place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil over it and fill it with dry beans or pie weights.

Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of the oven, until the crust is starting to get light golden, then remove from the oven and throw away the parchment/foil and beans. Make the pie filling.

Pie filling 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Whisk the flour, eggs and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon and whisk until smooth.

Heat the butter in a small pan, picking up the pan and swirling it occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes — until the butter is golden brown. It will bubble and then the bubbles will start to go away, but keep an eye on it and take it off the heat when it turns brown (don’t let it burn).

Whisk the brown butter into the filling mixture, then pour the filling into the pre-baked crust and bake the pie for 25 to 35 minutes — until the top has browned but the center is still a little jiggly. Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Bourbon brown sugar sauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature, if possible)
1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1 cup cream (not heavy cream – let it sit out on the counter for a bit, if you have time)
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan (I used a hand-held electric mixer, but you can use a whisk if you want). Warm the cream and add it in the brown sugar-butter mixture gradually, mixing as you go.

Turn the heat on low or medium-low and continue stirring or whisking until it boils (this may take about 10 minutes). Turn off the heat and add the bourbon. Whisk or beat with electric mixer until the sauce is smooth, then stir in the nuts (if using). Spoon over the room temperature or cold pie.

6 thoughts on “Brown sugar buttermilk pie with bourbon brown sugar sauce

  1. Jen
    I can’t wait to try this pie – it sound yummy! Joanne (Walter) and I have used this pie crust recipe for several years and I just love it – easy to make and so tasty. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Toby! Kathleen Rupprecht

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to y’all, too! Several people had recommended the vodka trick before, but I had never tried it. I think that, plus the combination of butter and shortening, makes it a winner. I hope you like the pie!!

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