Red-Velvet Lovey-Dovey Pie

Recently, I made my first red velvet cake from scratch. I made it for my husband of nearly 19 years. Red velvet cake is his favorite. We’ve bought so many of them over the years for him that I really had no idea what a homemade red velvet cake would taste like. He asked for a homemade cake and that is what he got. Quite happily.

Of course, the cake was so much more delicious than what I’ve tasted in the past. And I fell in love with the process and idea of making cake. But pie is more a part of my family tradition—and it is the subject of my cookbook, even though it’s Mrs. Rowe’s pies, not my own.

So as I found myself loving making the cake, I also felt a little like a traitor to pie. But I learned a lot about the cake that I would not have known without actually making it. It’s not a simple chocolate cake—as some have suggested to me. It’s really a buttermilk-cocoa cake. I’m no fan of sipping buttermilk—but it adds a depth of flavor and tang to cooking and
baking that’s hard beat.  As I was creating the cake, I thought of Mrs. Rowe’s Buttermilk Pie. How easy would it be to make it into a “Red Velvet” pie? Quite easy, as it turns out. I just added cocoa and food coloring to an otherwise perfect buttermilk pie recipe.

The pie gets a thin cakelike skin on it as it cools, which is lovely for topping purposes. It would work with a number of toppings. But for me, it’s not Red Velvet without
the cream cheese icing, which I won’t be making until tomorrow when I get to
Pennsylvania. I’m not sure about transporting the pie with the topping on it–six hours in the car. I’ll take pictures of it at some point.

This recipe is a perfect example of how versatile pie is—once
you have a good, solid recipe that works, it’s fun and easy to experiment with it. I
call this pie my “Lovey-Dovey Red Velvet Pie” because I’m honoring my husband’s
Southern traditions and tastes while also acknowledging my own pie-loving Yankee
family and traditions.

Makes 1 9-inch pie

1 pie crust

1 cup unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled

1 cup sugar

½ cup all purpose flour

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 heaping teaspoon of cocoa

1 ounce of red food coloring

Preheat oven to 325. Line a 9-inch pie plate with dough and
crimp the edges.

In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and flour, and stir
well. One at a time, add the eggs. Mixing well after each addition. Add the
buttermilk and vanilla and stir well. Next, add the cocoa and stir into
filling. Last, stir in the food coloring. Red, isn’t it?

Pour the batter into the pie crust.

The original buttermilk pie recipe called for baking for 25
to 35 minutes, until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. But it took 45 minutes in my oven for in
to get thick. When you insert the knife, there will be a little filling on
it—but it continues to firm up as it cools.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, until the
filling firms up. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

I’ll be serving mine in Pennsylvania with whipped cream
cheese topping.

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