Raspberry Buttermilk Pie Recipe and the Perils of Progress

Friday, July 22, 2011


Not too long ago, I had a discussion with some friends about whether or not Florida is part of “The Deep South”.  A few of us said yes, of course.  After all, it is the southernmost state in the country, so it must be.  But, one enlightened soul disagreed.  She said that while perhaps at one time Florida may have been considered part of the deep South, it wasn’t anymore, because a majority of the people living here are from somewhere else.  She had a point.  The heavy migration of Florida residents from the northern states, Cuba, Latin America and Europe have significantly transformed the state’s population landscape.   Not only do retirees move here in droves, but in the past twenty years we have also seen a huge influx of younger families from all over the world settling here.   South Florida is an urban cultural melting pot,  and most of the state’s other coastal areas have become cosmopolitan mini-meccas.  I’ve seen this happen in my own town.

227572_199779240065935_100001015821625_505974_2657551_n(Downtown Main Street, circa 1950’s)

When my family first came to Sarasota in 1969, it was very, very different than it is today.  In fact, it is almost unrecognizable now.   Back then, people moved here because they wanted to live in a charming, artsy, small southern town with miles of pure white sandy beaches and an endless expanse of glassy, turquoise waters.  We came here to live a kinder, gentler life.  We assimilated into the existing community.  Somewhere along the way, things got reversed.  People with lots of money began to move here with grand ideas of taking over and turning the town into what they left behind.  Our city commissioners got stars in their eyes and let things slide by.   Some of the changes have been positive.  Many have not.

I’ve seen gorgeous old buildings literally vanish in the middle of the night.  Cherished pieces of our community’s history were reduced to rubble, and ultimately replaced with office buildings or condos –  all in the name of progress.    I know that nothing lasts forever, but it’s sad that our local officials haven’t done more to preserve the past for future generations.     Don’t get me wrong.  This is still a beautiful place, and the quality of life is great.  It just isn’t the same place anymore.

Lido-collage(The beautiful, art deco Lido Casino demolished in 1969 for no good reason at all, and replaced with an ugly, nondescript looking pavilion)

When I was a kid, you could drive along the beach roads and actually see the beach.  These days, the condos and beach houses are three and four deep.  Those million dollar views actually do cost millions now, unless you’re lucky enough to find a parking space at one of the public beaches, which is no small feat!

Several months ago, someone started a Facebook group for people who grew up in Sarasota.  It started out as a place for those of us that grew up here in the seventies and eighties to reconnect and reminisce.  It has since evolved into an historic treasure trove of old photos, stories and other recollections by many that were here long before I was.  I’ve had the best time learning about the “old days”, and wishing that I’d been around then, because so many of the old landmarks and plain old cool places have been demolished.  They’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot!

So, you might be wondering what does all this rambling have to do with Raspberry Buttermilk Pie.  Absolutely nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Except that thinking about that conversation kind of got me on a roll.  And also, that my wise friend happens to be from the Deep South, and this is her family recipe.    Except for the raspberries.  I came up with that all by myself. Winking smile

buttermilk-pie-3Buttermilk pie is a traditional southern favorite. It is a custard based pie made with eggs, butter, sugar and of course, buttermilk. It’s really quite simple to make, and the payoff is big. This is one silky smooth, creamy and incredibly delicious dessert. I can see why it’s so popular!


To prepare the pie, all you do is mix up all of the filling ingredients and pour them into an unbaked pie shell.  You can make your own crust from scratch, like Lily always does, or use a store bought crust, like I sometimes do.  Honestly, it is better with a homemade crust, but it’s also plenty wonderful without – so don’t let that deter you from trying this recipe.

I was betting that the pie’s rich custard filling would make a perfect backdrop for some fresh summer fruits, so I also added some raspberries to it.  I’m guessing that just about any kind of berry or other firm fruit, like peaches or apples would work  just as well.  Oooh!  A peaches and cream pie!  How great does that sound?


Whether you’re from the Deep South, the “Faux” South or no South at all, I guarantee that you will love this pie.  It’s rich, cool and sweet, without being cloyingly so.  The raspberries add a nice pop of fruity freshness and texture as well.

Those cool, retro photos of my hometown came from Sarasota History Alive, a great web site I found maintained by Larry Kelleher, a native Sarasotan and fellow Facebooker.  There is a ton of interesting information about the “old days” there, as well as scads of vintage photos and videos.  It’s obvious that a lot of pride and love went into the site, so if you have a little time to kill, I hope you’ll check it out.


24 responses to Raspberry Buttermilk Pie Recipe and the Perils of Progress

  1. On July 22, 2011 at 3:38pm, Maria said...

    I always have buttermilk to use up. Can’t wait to try this pie.

  2. On July 22, 2011 at 4:01pm, Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook said...

    I’ve never had a pie like this, but I am all in favorite of rich and creamy pies with fresh fruit! Sadly it is so hot here in NJ that I think I could bake this pie OUTSIDE! Will need to wait until the heat wave breaks to cook this up, but it certainly is going into my “must make” box.

    Lovely pictures and story. As I’m from the North East, I have always lived in an overly developed area. But the seaside and our favorite lakes have that same problem you described, those million dollar views now obstructed by high rises, beach houses, and condos. It’s a big problem here in NJ with private beach access, because public funding goes towards maintaining and restoring beaches, but private land owners block public access to the beach through their land. So its the ones with money, sadly, who get to enjoy. Sad.

    • On July 22, 2011 at 5:17pm, Susan said...

      I hear ya about the heat! It’s been oppressive down here, but it seems like you northerners have us beat in that department right now.

      Isn’t it a shame that some people are allowed to “buy” nature’s beauty? We’ve had similar issues here with beach access. Luckily, we have wide swaths of public beaches. And, those who live on beachfront property can’t prohibit anyone from walking through their property at the shoreline. But, they can kick you off of “their” sand if you venture up that far.

  3. On July 22, 2011 at 5:02pm, Rosa said...

    I think that Florida is one of a kind. It is situated in the south, but I’m not sure it is comparable to the other Southern states (well, that is the opinion of an outsider, so I might be wrong)…

    You pie looks fantastic! I am bookmarking that recipe.



    • On July 22, 2011 at 5:20pm, Susan said...

      You’re right, Rosa. Florida is kind of an enigma. Along the coasts, it is much more “northernized”. But in the inland areas, it is still quite “southern”.

  4. On July 22, 2011 at 5:33pm, Jess Wakasugi said...

    I’ve never had a Buttermilk Pie but you have thoroughly convinced me to try my hand at this. Yum, what a great summer dessert!

  5. On July 22, 2011 at 5:46pm, Priyanka said...

    Wonderful….Looks so beautiful :)

  6. On July 22, 2011 at 7:15pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Interesting idea. Is “the south” a place, or is it an idea, a type of people, a tradition, a culture? Of course the old south has some rather negative connotations of racism and classicm along with the good stuff. Definitely food for thought.

    You have given me some ideas for those fresh raspberries I picked last week and put in my freezer!

    • On July 24, 2011 at 4:56pm, Erica said...

      The South.. It’s a tradition, a way of life, the foods we eat, the simple things. The slight ‘twang or ‘drawl in our speech. It’s romantic.

  7. On July 23, 2011 at 12:48am, Katrina said...

    Wow! This pie looks incredible! This post was really interesting for me to read. I’m from Canada, and anywhere in Florida has always seemed like a destination for vacation. Whenever I go to cities near an ocean I never really stop to think about how the locals might feel about me being there. Of course I don’t have a giant house on the beach, but I bet that really takes away from the old, true, beauty of your city. I can see how it would be super annoying to have big buildings replace things that used to mean something to the locals. My town is small, quaint, and on the river, and I’m just waiting for the day it’s destroyed by tourism one day. Great read, thanks!

  8. On July 23, 2011 at 4:47pm, Rosemary said...

    Very provocative . . . since I’m from Pennsylvania, I have always thought of Florida as a vacation destination, and now that my daughter has transplanted herself there, and wants us to “buy something” down there, I guess I still do. It’s a unique place, all its own. I love to go there. (And I think I’ll try my overabundance of blueberries in this delectable-looking pie!)

  9. On July 23, 2011 at 5:16pm, Jenny @ Savour the Senses said...

    Just wanted to stop by and let you know that I have finally made my blogroll and you are on it! Check it out at http://savourthesensesblog.com =) Love your site!

  10. On July 24, 2011 at 4:52pm, Erica said...

    Born and raised in Orlando… And being a 3rd generation Floridian (rare), with family roots in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, & Tennessee.. You’re right, FL isn’t a ‘Deep South state.. Sadly. I however, am Southern with obvious roots.

    I love, grew up on, make, give as gifts Buttermilk Pie. Its my most requested pie alongside my spicy peanut butter pie. Isn’t it lovely? Glad to see others enjoy the rich’s. Great blog you have here.

  11. On July 26, 2011 at 8:08pm, Lisa said...

    This looks delicious! I love buttermilk pie, but my usual throw-in is blueberries – will definitely have to try raspberries next time.

    Some friends and I have the same friendly debate over whether Florida is to be considered “Southern” – after splitting my childhood between NY and FL, then living in TN for thirteen years, I vote no, for the same reason as your friend. Florida’s too much of a cultural melting pot to have a simple singular identity – whatever that identity might be, it’s not Southern (though there are still pockets of Deep South in FL).

    Anyway. Yay, pie! :)

  12. On July 28, 2011 at 7:53pm, peanutbutterprincess said...

    I’ve never had buttermilk pie but yours looks so good that I’ve decided to make one to bring with me on Sunday when I go even further up North (I’m from Southern Ontario – not exactly what one generally means by “Southern” :)). I’m going to go ahead and throw in some peaches too!

  13. On July 29, 2011 at 3:30am, Anne Galivan said...

    This pie looks absolutely amazing.

    Just had to run over here to tell you that the Florida Panhandle IS still the Deep South!

    I am a native Miami girl (actually even my mom was born in Miami so I was second-generation which is extremely rare!) We moved to Tallahassee sixteen years ago because South Florida was getting so expensive and with our growing family we needed to cut costs.

    Overall it was a good move…we live on two wooded acres and my two older boys had a blast building forts in the woods etc.

    However, I am definitely NOT a Southern gal. I still consider myself a city girl. Eventually I plan to make my home as close to the beach as possible! Until then I’m making do but I definitely miss the wonders of city life – like having more than one mall!

    South Florida is certainly NOT part of “the South.” Miami is a cosmopolitan city (that’s gotten a little big for its britches but that’s okay!) From Central Florida on south is a completely different world from the Florida Panhandle in every way – topography, lifestyle and certainly accent!

  14. On August 09, 2011 at 9:02pm, Kevin (Closet Cooking) said...

    That pie is looking so good!

  15. On August 09, 2011 at 9:54pm, Kevin (Closet Cooking) said...

    That pie looks so good!

  16. On September 13, 2011 at 11:20am, Angela said...

    I made this pie this weekend but the center remained very liquidy and never firmed up. It still tasted great but I wonder what I may have done wrong or if there is something I could do differently next time? Any thoughts?


  17. On September 20, 2011 at 6:09pm, Barb said...

    So looking forward to making this recipe! :) I have lived in FL for 24 years now, and have seen the face of this state change exponentially. It used to be wonderfully quiet with little traffic problems and kind neighborly people, even if most of us were from somewhere else. The west FL beaches used to have unspoiled quiet places to enjoy the beauty of where the water meets the sand; where you could sit and enjoy the sounds of the wind through the pines and the quiet of nature. Now you can’t even find a parking spot in the public areas, and if you do, it costs dearly and the quiet is virtually all gone. But FL is still my home, and there is still much to love about our beautiful state. Glad to find this site!
    Thank you!

  18. On October 14, 2011 at 9:30am, Gourmet cupcake recipes said...

    I like this recipe! Thank you for the details!This looks delicious!

  19. On November 12, 2011 at 12:33am, Reader said...

    I tried this! It smelled amazing but didnt look nearly as nice as yours. The surface of mine was all pop-marked and looked like it might split apart. I did use brown sugar instead of white, so i wonder if that’s why? Any thing you did special for it to look as pristine as yours?

  20. On January 19, 2012 at 8:03pm, Bridget said...

    Great recipe! Very quick to put together :) I didn’t have any raspberries on hand so I used blueberries…reminds me of the cream pies my Grandma used to make.

  21. On January 31, 2012 at 8:59pm, angela@spinachtiger said...

    I love buttermilk pie. I recently made with pears, but the raspberry option looks wonderful. I consider parts of Florida the deep south. And, other parts like Miami very different. Florida is really has so many different cultures.

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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