Bake the Book: Chai Chess Pie

[Photograph: Tina Rupp]

For those of you who prefer to eat their drinks instead of sip them, First Prize Pies has come up with Chai Chess Pie, a sweetly spiced pie that relies on the complex flavors of cardamom, cloves, and tea leaves. Served with fat scoops of cool whipped cream and an optional addition of candied ginger, it's a wonderful twist on teatime.

Tips: The filling for this pie comes together so quickly it's almost silly. Like most chess pies, it's predominantly sugar, butter, and eggs, with some flour and a flavoring agent. In this case, "chai tea mixture" is called for. That's a little ambiguous, so we did a bit of sleuthing; here, "chai tea mixture" refers to loose chai tea leaves and spices, which are available at virtually any store selling loose tea. There are a variety of chai tea mixes out there, but for the purposes of this pie, we used a standard masala chai leaf and spice mix. It's then finely ground in a spice mill or coffee grinder. DON'T buy pre-ground powdered chai tea mix; it's not the same, and will not yield the same flavor.

Tweaks: Once the tea and spice mix has been ground and set aside, you can work on the crust. We've done many a pie crust recipe here at Bake the Book, and the instructions Miss Kave gives for her pie crusts are among the clearest and easiest to understand. Read them over a few times before attempting to make a crust; she gives you the option to use leaf lard or butter to make certain crusts (if that's the case, the recipe will specify). There's a fair amount of discussion as to whether vinegar is even needed to make a pie crust, but since she combines hers with milk, to create buttermilk, we're going to leave her crust recipe as-is.

As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of First Prize Pies to give away.

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