Don't let the name fool you, this old-fashioned treat deserves a comeback.
We've always been taught not to judge a book by its cover, right? Well, I would argue the same for not judging a recipe by its name. We know by now that Ants on a Log is a fun, nutritious snack, A "Girl Dinner" is just an easy no-cook snack platter, and Fruckies and Scotcheroos are magical delights. So when I heard about a dessert called Vinegar Pie, I was intrigued rather than put off.
What Is Vinegar Pie?
Vinegar pie is a retro dish that seems to have never gotten a more appetizing moniker (much like Tomato Soup Cake). But as someone who absolutely loves all kinds of vinegar, I knew I had to try it. In the same vein as Water Pie or Chess Pie, vinegar pie is a Depression-era "desperation pie," made popular when people were trying to stretch ingredients and "make-do" with what was on hand in the pantry. When fruit, especially citrus, was out of season or too pricey, creative home cooks used vinegar to recreate a tangy, acidic taste in sweets.
There is evidence of vinegar pie dating back to the mid to late 1800s, though there are also many different versions of this dessert that have evolved over time. Some involved molasses (which may have developed into Shoofly Pie), some involved meringue, others added dried fruits and nuts. Common amongst most, however, are staples like butter, sugar, egg, flour, and flavoring agents; vinegar (apple cider or distilled white), vanilla, and sometimes lemon.
I knew "Vinegar Pie" was going to be a hard sell in my house so I told everyone I was just testing a new pie recipe and to taste it first—we'd talk about it second.
How to Make Vinegar Pie
Though some vinegar pies are a little more labor intensive, the recipe I followed was super easy to make—seven ingredients and only two steps:
Combine 1/2 cup melted, cooled butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons self-rising flour, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and 3 eggs in a large bowl or blender. Mix well. Pour the filling into a 9-inch unbaked pie shell. (I used store-bought for convenience.)
Bake in a preheated 300-degree F (150-degree C) oven for 45 minutes, until the filling is golden brown but the center is still slightly jiggly.
That was all it took. I let it cool completely on the counter before digging in.
Note: Other versions, including this vinegar pie recipe, use the stovetop to cook the filling before pouring it into a cooked crust, avoiding the oven altogether.
What Does Vinegar Pie Taste Like?
The first bite we took didn't give us vinegar at all. I could taste it slightly in the subsequent bites but only because I was looking for it, and only as a welcome, tangy complement to the otherwise sugar-sweet vanilla custard filling. My other tasters commented that it was like a less tart Key lime pie, with a hint of cheesecake. We cut the sweetness with fresh whipped cream.
Overall, we found vinegar pie to be a satisfying, sticky, sweet confection—though not so sweet that we could only take one bite. It's as if a gooey sugar cookie was turned into a pie. My husband and son especially enjoyed it. Though for me, I wanted something else in there—like citrus or pecans, or even a little nutmeg.
And everyone was surprised (and confused) by the name.
The Bottom Line
I'm not sure I'll be making this again but I'm certainly glad I tried it. I love to learn about food history and ponder the role this dessert may have played in kitchens of yore. I just don't foresee an occasion when it would take the place of a favorite in my repertoire—like the classic apple tart or mascarpone cheesecake. As far as new desserts go, I think I have to test this Bottle of Wine Chocolate Pie next.
Read the original article on All Recipes.