Unless you are Southern, Appalachian, Amish, or. like, really into baking, you probably haven’t heard of vinegar pie, a pie that sounds much less pleasant than it is. Do not let the name put you off: it’s a sweet, custardy pie with a delicate caramelised crust on top, and—since it is made entirely of kitchen staples—you probably have everything you need to make it. In fact, I would argue that it is vinegar pie’s time to shine.
Like most things I grew up eating at church suppers, this pie is made with just a few cheap ingredients, and, though you may be tempted to, it does not—I repeat: does not—need to be “elevated” in any way, shape, or form. There are a few variations out there, but the backbone of the pie is comprised of eggs, butter, sugar, and a little vinegar. Does the pie taste like vinegar? Of course not,—what do you think I am?—but the vinegar adds a pleasant acidity which keeps the whole thing from spiralling into something that is far too sweet to be enjoyable.
A lot of recipes call for apple cider vinegar to give it that autumnal flavour, but I’ve found white vinegar provides a nice lemony quality I quite enjoy. You can also add cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever baking spices you have hanging out in your cabinet (1/4 teaspoon of each would work just fine), but I never do, because I hate baking, and wanted to get this pie in the oven with as little measuring as possible.
My recipe is based on this dead simple one, only I add an extra half tablespoon of vinegar, and double the vanilla. Obviously, because it is a pie recipe, you will probably want a crust, but you do not technically need a crust. I have baked the filling in a ramekin without any sort of crust at all, and it was still very delicious and satisfying. (Just decrease the cooking time a by 5-10 minutes.) To make this simply delicious dessert, you will need:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup salted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Blind bake your pie shell by lining it with parchment and filling the parchment with sugar or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius, then remove the sugar or weights and return the crust to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until it is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.
Once the shell has cooled, combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour into the crust, and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is browned and the filling is puffed (it will fall when cooled). Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.