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I love pie. I love all kinds of pie. I even like the word “pie.” It sounds comforting, solid, delicious, predictable.  I love pie in all seasons and for all occasions.

A co-worker of mine recently left the job and to wish her well, I made this version of a chess pie from the cookbook Vintage Pies: Classic American Pies for Today’s Home Baker by Anne Collins. It’s a new book, published in 2014, but it contains many classic pie recipes without fussiness or adornment, along with a brief history of some recipes.

Linda Stradley of the What’s Cooking America website says chess pie can trace its roots back to the 1700s and Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery, which contains a recipe for a cheese-less cheesecake (what?!) that looks very much like a chess pie-a simple concoction of eggs, sugar, butter, flour, and flavoring. Since the words “cheese” and “chess” are similar, we may infur that the chess pie got its name when someone mispronounced the word “cheese.”

In any case, if you’ve never made a pie or you haven’t had much luck with fruit pies (as is the case for me!), a chess pie is an easy, delicious dessert that serves well for any occasion.

Chess pie

Chess pie


One unbaked pie crust
One medium lemon or 1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup salted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Juice the lemon, measuring out 1/2 cup.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. In a medicum bowl, whisk the eggs until they are light in color. Add the sugar, the butter, the cornmeal and the lemon juice and stir the ingredients until they are just combined.

Pour the filling into a pie crust.

Place the pie in the oven and bake until the filling is set in the middle, about 35-40 minutes.

Chess Pie

Chess Pie