Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving pies’

The Hale Family Marlborough Pie

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014


Marlborough Pie 2


In the late 20th century, when church was the week’s best entertainment, when ministers were rock stars, Edward Everett Hale, a Bostonian Unitarian and later Congregational minister, was Bono. He filled churches and sold books. His biggest hit was a work of fiction, “Man Without a Country,” which tells the story of Philip Nolan, found guilty of treason, and sentenced to spend the rest of his life on a ship, forbidden from setting foot ever again on United States’ soil, of learning any news of his former country, from even saying the nation’s name. He dies on the ship, desolate, the most loyal patriot of all as one who has known what is it to be without a country. “Man Without a Country” successfully advertised the Union defense of unity, and remained required school reading well into the 20th century.

Edward Everett Hale’s relatives are responsible for much of New England’s moral landscape; his great great uncle, the revolutionary martyr Nathan Hale, famously said, “I only regret I have but one life to give for my country.” Hale’s uncle, Edward Everett, an energetic scholar known all his life as “Ever-at-it,” taught German and Greek at Harvard; Ralph Waldo Emerson was his student; he ultimately became Harvard’s president, and a serious Union supporter. Hale’s mother-in-law was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s sister. He is even distantly related to Helen Keller. Almost every town from Rhode Island to Maine has a maple-lined Hale Street running through it.

But it’s Thanksgiving on Cape Ann; what do the Hales have to do with anything?

Edward Everett Hale’s daughter, Ellen Day Hale, a Boston painter educated in Paris at the end of the 20th century, built a summer home in Folly Cove. (Her self-portrait, painted for the Salon show in Paris’ Grand Palais, hangs in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.)  Readers here will know this as my house now!



Ellen Day Hale self-portrait



Ellen Day Hale’s brother Philip Hale, and his wife Lillian, all painted together summers in this Folly Cove granite home; they made the start of a rich artistic community that would discover what light does with water and granite at the far northern tip of Gloucester.


Ellen Day Hale's home



About Thanksgiving, Edward Everett Hale, in his 1893 book “A New England Boyhood,” declares this Marlborough Pie a Hale family Thanksgiving requirement.

“To this hour, in any old and well-regulated family in New England, you will find there is a traditional method of making the Marlborough pie, which is sort of lemon pie, and each good housekeeper thinks that her grandmother left a better receipt for Marlborough pie than anybody else did.”

Here is the Hale family recipe; their pie is light and lemony, with just enough character from the applesauce. The 1/4 cup of sherry adds a little New England parlor to the taste.

Although their summer home was probably closed up by November, I would like to imagine that at some point the Hales, unable to wait for Thanksgiving, enjoyed this Marlborough pie on their Folly Cove porch, their eyes scanning Ipswich Bay for sailboats. Maybe the taste of the pie made them reminisce about Hale Thanksgivings past – “Remember the time Dad made us….”


slice of Marlborough Pie



Hale Family Marlborough Pie


Pastry for 1 crust

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (preferably homemade with drops from a local tree)

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup light cream

grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup sherry

3 eggs, well beaten


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1.  Line a 8” pie plate with pastry.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.

2.  Combine applesauce, sugar, cream, and sherry. Stir in the eggs, and pour into chilled pastry shell.

3.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes longer. Filling will not become firm until the pie cools.

Cornmeal Crusted Buttermilk Pie

Sunday, November 18th, 2012



In a week anticipating squash, apple and pecan, this pie is still the only thing I want.  I’ve made it twice.  From the very beautiful blog Local Milk, this buttermilk pie leaves others behind, mostly because of this super-crusty cornmeal-nubbed crust, ready to dosey-do with the lemony and nutmeg custard filling.


I’ve tasted buttermilk pie before, but it’s usually a thin, mushy cardboard crust that has no relationship whatsoever with the filling, which is usually bland.  This crust to filling dynamic is like Tracy and Hepburn: rustic, homey, authentic dancing with sublime, elegant.  Forget the dosey-do, this combination is ready to tango.



Light as lemon and buttermilk, this pie is a beautiful antidote to all that molasses, maple, and cinnamon on Thanksgiving day; the cornmeal and nutmeg keep it relevant.

Buttermilk Pie with Cornmeal Crust



2 eggs separated, room temp

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

1 cup  sugar

3 Tbsp flour

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk, room temp

powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

*would also be good with fresh whipped cream


Roll out your crust and put it in your pie pan. Cover in plastic and chill in the fridge while you make your filling.

Heat oven to 350° F.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and set aside. With whip attachment cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add yolks to butter-sugar mixture and combine well. Add the flour, lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt to the mixture. Slowly steam in buttermilk and mix for 1 minutes. Fold the whites into the buttermilk mixture.

Remove crust from fridge and pour in mixture. Smooth with spatula and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and set in the middle. Cool thoroughly on a rack before serving. Dust with powdered sugar if you like or top with fresh whipped cream.

cornmeal lard crust


from Sarah Malphrus, pastry chef of Husk Restaurant in Charleston, SC

yields one single crust pie


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup cold pork fat, cut into 1/2″ pieces (I use leaf lard)

1/4 (half a stick) butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1/4 cup ice cold water


Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt. Cut in fat and butter until no pieces larger than a pea remain. Slowly add the water, working it into the dough with your hands until it comes together. On plastic wrap form the dough into a disc 4″-5″ across  wrap, and chill for at least an hour. When ready to use roll out on a floured surface to fit a 9″ pie pan, flouring as needed to keep from sticking.