Manchego Chess Pie From 'Savory Baking'

November 10, 2022
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  • Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • makes 1 (9-inch/23cm) pie
Author Notes

Chess pie is a classic custard pie, thickened with eggs and cornmeal. It’s typically a sweet pie, often flavored with lemon or chocolate. In my new book, Savory Baking, I wanted to take classic pie preparations like this and reimagine savory versions of them. Chess pie is all about the texture—which is delightfully smooth—and the flavors used in the filling are typically bold and punchy. For this savory twist, I was inspired by my travels through Spain during college. In the evenings, friends and I would find the closest bar serving tapas, where we would devour thinly sliced iberico, pickled guindilla peppers, and thick slices of manchego cheese topped with membrillo, or quince paste. The manchego is the perfect salty addition to this classic custard pie—it’s incredibly flavorful and is delicious with the silky texture of the custard. This pie is wonderful slightly warm, or cooled completely and served at room temperature. If you can’t find quince paste, you can serve slices with a dollop or thin spread of preserves. Anything that will cut through the richness will work well—I especially like fig, apple, or pear. As with all single crust pies, I recommend par-baking the crust to be sure you avoid soggy bottoms, and get the best textural contrast. There’s truly nothing like the just-set custard paired with a golden, buttery, flaky crust. —Excerpted from Savory Baking: Recipes for Breakfast, Dinner, and Everything in Between 2022 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2022 Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
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Manchego Chess Pie From 'Savory Baking'
  • 1 par-baked All Buttah Pie Crust (
  • 4 (226 grams) large eggs
  • 1 cup (230 grams) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons (50 grams) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) smoked paprika
  • 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) finely grated Manchego cheese
  • Quince paste or preserves (fig, apple, pear, cherry), as needed for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Place the pie crust inside the pie plate on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, vinegar, and cornmeal until well combined. Add the melted butter and whisk well to combine. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, and cheese and mix to combine.
  3. Pour the custard into the prepared crust, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the custard appears set around the outside edge, but is still slightly jiggly in the center, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. The pie is delicious slightly warm, but I usually serve it at room temperature, letting it cool completely on a cooling rack. You can also chill the pie for up to 24 hours and slice and serve cold. Serve slices with a thin slice or wedge of quince paste, or a thin top layer of fruit preserves.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

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