Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, Day 2 - Holiday Foods

One of my family's favorite holiday desserts is Jeff Davis Pie.  We grew up with it and assumed everyone else did, too, only to discover most people had never heard of a Jeff Davis Pie, much less tasted one.  Now thanks to the Internet, recipes can be found readily - even for Jeff Davis Pie.  Five generations of my kin have feasted on this pie.

Here's the story.  As a youngster about 6 or 7, I used to visit a distant cousin - she was asthmatic and this was in the late 1940's when there were few treatments.  She could not actively play so I went over to play card games and board games.  Her Mom was a great cook and one time she served Jeff Davis Pie for dessert.  At that time my parents and I were living in an upstairs apartment at my grandmother's and when I went home to tell my Mammaw about this wonderful pie, she said she thought she'd heard of it but never had a recipe.  So she promptly telephoned and wrote it down.  Forever after it became our Thanksgiving or Christmas [or both!] holiday dessert.  My mother as the only daughter continued to bake the pie; from there it passed down to my two sisters and to me. 

When I married at age 19, I typed up many of the recipes from my Mom's recipe box, many of which had come straight out of my Mammaw's recipe box.  That was over 50 years ago. My grandmother's recipes were often somewhat vague.
Here's that recipe. [Should you want to try it, be sure and read the suggestions underneath before you begin...]

As you might have detected, there are some essential steps and instructions omitted from the recipe.   Here are some extra details you might need to know.   Use an UNbaked pie shell - the word "crust" being somewhat misleading.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all the dry ingredients together first; then add the beaten eggs, then the milk and melted butter.  The mixture doesn't blend particularly well and actually looks a bit awful - don't worry, that's the secret to a good pie.   The filling makes quite a large pie - use at least a 9" deep-dish pie - a 10" dish is better.  "Sweet milk" is just milk - as opposed to buttermilk....  Bake the pie about 45-50 minutes - it's basically a custard pie with spices and should be "set" when you shake it slightly to see if it's done.  The filling separates while baking - the top will brown nicely leaving the custard underneath.  The next time you may want to double the recipe and bake two!

Note:  added later.... 1 teaspoon of "spice" is allspice!  And those are ground cloves and cinnamon.


  1. I'd never heard of this pie before - but it sounds great! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Mmmm the pie sounds good! I have a recipe that's very similar but it's called mock pecan pie, no pecans though just a nice yummy creamy filling.
    I'll have to give yours a try!

  3. I did the same thing when I was younger - typed up my mom's recipes on 3x5 cards, and they look a lot like the recipe above. Then after she died I inherited her written recipes, so now I have both copies. Hmm, "Jeff Davis Pie" - sounds like a good southern dish.