What do you do when you have to make enough pies to feed a whole church congregation, but you don't have enough containers, or wagon space, to transport them? The good people of North Carolina would simply stack the pies on top of each other. In addition to solving transportation issues, the stack pie also goes a long way when feeding a crowd. It’s so sweet that you only need the tiniest sliver and, besides, it's still four pies high. The stacks were traditionally constructed from chess pies (sometimes called vinegar pies), a much-loved Southern classic with only a minimum of ingredients – one of these being a dash of vinegar.
- 4 x 435 g packets frozen ready-rolled sweet shortcrust pastry, thawed*
- 1.5 kg caster sugar
- 110 g (⅔ cup) fine polenta (cornmeal)
- 500 g unsalted butter, melted, completely cooled to prevent splitting mixture
- 16 eggs, lightly beaten
- 250 ml (1 cup) thickened cream
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 x 125 g punnets blueberries
- 15 g (⅓ cup) coconut flakes
- 350 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 lemons, zested, juiced
- 300 g pure icing sugar, sifted
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 30 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
Drink match 2012 Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora,King Valley, Vic ($16.20)
To make each pie, line a 24 cm tart pan with removable base with 435 g pastry. Trim the edges and prick the base all over with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove dried beans or rice and cool tart shell. Reduce heat to 160°C.
Place 385 g sugar, 2 tbsp polenta, 125 g cooled melted butter, 4 eggs, 80 ml cream, 1 tbsp vinegar, 2 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then whisk until smooth. Place tart shell on an oven tray, pour in filling and bake for 40 minutes, or until filling is set and top is golden. Cool completely. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 a further 3 times using remaining ingredients to make 4 pies in total. (If you have 2 x 24 cm tart pans, you can cook two pies at the same time.)
To make lemon frosting, using an electric mixer, beat butter until pale and fluffy. Add zest and icing sugar and beat until very pale. Strain lemon juice, add to mixture and beat until combined. When tarts have cooled, spread a layer of frosting over each tart. Immediately stack tarts on top of one another. Scatter the final layer with blueberries and coconut. Serve cut into slices.
• Frozen ready-rolled sweet shortcrust pastry in 435 g packets is available in specialty food shops and delis.
Photography Brett Stevens
As seen in Feast magazine, November 2013, Issue 26.