Friends, if you’ve never had sorghum pie before, you are in for a real treat! This is an original recipe that turned out exceptionally well. Add this pie to your repertoire of custard pie recipes. You’ll be glad you did!
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I Missed Out on Southern Food As a Kid
I was born in the South. I was raised in the South. Even so, I don’t feel particularly Southern.
I’m a First Generation Southerner. Both my parents were raised in Jackson Heights in Queens, New York, and they spent a brief time in Nashville before settling in North Carolina two or three years before I came along.
So, while I was born and raised in the South, I wasn’t born into the South. I’m from the South. Not of the South.
I only experienced true Southern food outside my home, and at the time, it was so different than what Mom served us inside our four walls that I viewed it with suspicion.
The cafeteria ladies at my elementary school, good Southern cooks all, turned out pans of steaming, golden-brown cornbread that looked nothing at all like the bread, or even the rolls, we had at home.
The only beans served at home were green beans, and I knew nothing of black-eyed peas or pinto beans swimming in thick, pork-scented gravy.
Most of my friends were raised on Southern chicken and dumplings with slick dumplings. We ate chicken fricassee.
And on New Year’s Day? While my friends were dining on collard greens and black-eyed peas for money and luck, we were still digging coins out of slices of plum pudding.
Not that I was complaining, but sometimes I wish I’d had at least a working vocabulary of much lauded Southern foods.
Embracing Southerness with Sorghum Pie
Since I wasn’t weaned on Southern food, only food that happened to be made in a kitchen that was in a house in a neighborhood in a city in the South, I have had to find my own way to Southern food. To embrace Southern food, because it should be embraced.
Today, I’m here to talk about pie. Southern Pie. Sorghum Pie. Cinnamon Sorghum Custard Pie, to be exact.
This pie is one of four in a series of “desperation pies” I made. They’re all delicious and easy to make, so if you’re not familiar, please check them out:
What Is Sorghum?
The sweet sorghum plant, which grows tall like corn, was most likely brought to the Southern US from Africa on slave ships.
The whole grains–which fall into the category “ancient grains”–can be cooked and eaten much like any other grain, and since it’s naturally gluten free, it is often ground into a flour for use as a gluten-free flour.
It might be this particular use of sorghum that is sparking its fairly recent resurgence, and I believe I read somewhere that sorghum might be the new quinoa. Which is fine with me, because while I enjoy quinoa, it has been a bit done to death.
One of the great things about sorghum is that it can flourish under less than ideal circumstances.
It doesn’t require particularly great earth to grow in, and it survives on much less water than corn.
t’s partly for this reason that it’s one of the plants now grown to be turned into ethanol. As well, ranchers use the grasses as feed for their cattle, and that includes both cutting it and letting the cattle graze on the live plants in pastures.
What Is Sorghum Syrup?
Made in much the same way that sugar cane syrup is made, sorghum is a gorgeous amber color, is thick like honey and tastes quite like molasses without as much bitterness.
It’s a complex flavor, and I am a recent convert and a huge fan of the stuff.
If you’re not sure what to do with it, look to the South where it’s often eaten with buttered biscuits or poured over a stack of pancakes.
You can use it pretty much like you’d use honey or maple syrup, and so far, I have been thrilled with the flavor it gives my baked goods.
Where This Sorghum Pie Recipe Came From
The recipe as I used as my base for the Sorghum Custard Pie is this Plantation Sorghum Custard Pie printed in Charleston’s The Post & Courier in 2015 from a recipe written in 1972 to help promote a hotly anticipated (but apparently forty years in the making) sorghum renaissance.
You’ll definitely be able to see the bones of the original recipe, although I have made a few changes based on what I had in the house and what I thought might be good. (Spoiler Alert: I was correct!)
The biggest change I made was to replace the sugar called for in the original recipe with palm sugar.
Since sorghum syrup is less refined than granulated sugar, I wanted to honor that by using another less-refined product.
Palm Sugar and Eggs
The baking of Mr. Cinnamon Sorghum Custard Pie, Esquire, did not go quite as planned. For custard pies, I usually take them out of the oven when the internal temperature of the pie is about 165F, hot enough to “set” the eggs.
I dutifully followed the baking instructions in the original recipe, making sure I reached my target temperature.
I took the pie out, and it still seemed very runny in the center. Still, I figured, science is science. The eggs should have done their thing. It will probably set up nicely in the fridge.
I checked on the pie after three hours in the fridge, and the center slowly flowed like lava when I tilted the pan. I was annoyed.
I set the oven for 350F, slapped the pie back in (covered with foil so the crust wouldn’t get over-browned) and baked it until the center temperature was 180F.
That did the trick. I’m left with the question of why that happened though. The last time I used palm sugar with eggs, it was in Heavenly Chocolate Pecan Dream Cookies I made around Thanksgiving.
Eggs and sugar generally whip up into a super-thick foam after a few minutes. With the palm sugar in place of granulated sugar, the eggs thickened, but not even close to the point they would with granulated sugar.
My friend Viviane of Chocolate Chilli Mango confirmed that she’s had the same experience.
I’m wondering if there’s something chemically that goes on in the interaction between palm sugar and eggs.
Keep this in mind when baking your pie. If you usually use an instant read thermometer to check your custard pies (like I do), know you’ll be shooting for 180F rather than 165F.
Okay, without further ado, I give you Cinnamon Sorghum Custard Pie.
Cinnamon Sorghum Pie Recipe
I really hope you love this simple, flavorful sorghum pie recipe, you guys! If you make it, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!
- 1 unbaked pie shell, , fitted into a regular (not deep-dish) pie pan, docked and frozen (Use your favorite pie crust recipe or a high-quality store-bought)
- 1 cup sorghum syrup
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 cup palm sugar or granulated sugar (SEE NOTE)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- (optional but I really liked this) 6 gingersnap cookies, ground to dust
- 1 egg whipped with 1 teaspoon of water for egg wash
- Leave your lined pie pan in the freezer until you're ready to bake. Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sorghum syrup and eggs until smooth.
- Add the palm sugar (or granulated sugar), buttermilk, sour cream, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and flour and beat with a whisk until smooth.
- Add the crushed cookies, if you decide to use them. You can either stir them in or scatter them in the bottom of the pie crust and pour the filling in after. Some will float to the top, but that's okay.
- Pour the pie filling into the pie crust, brush the exposed crust with egg wash, and slip the pie into the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat to 350F and continue to bake until the pie is well puffed all over and set, about 40 minutes more. A little wiggle in the center is fine, but it shouldn't be sloshy. The crust will most likely be nicely browned before the pie has finished baking, so keep an eye on it and cover it loosely with foil once it's as browned as you like it.
- Remove pie to a rack to cool for about an hour and then chill. Serve cold, at room temp, or slightly warm with a big old scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Subbing granulated sugar for palm sugar: If you decide to use granulated sugar rather than palm sugar, your pie will most likely be done when the internal temperature reaches 165F. Using palm sugar increases the temperature at which eggs set. I don't know how it does this, but it does.
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Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 356 Total Fat 8g Saturated Fat 3g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 4g Cholesterol 125mg Sodium 272mg Carbohydrates 65g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 1g Sugar 53g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 6g
And there you have it. Southern comfort food: cinnamon sorghum custard pie. So worth making and enjoying. Unfussy. Humble looking but with huge, intense flavor. Lovely.
Thank you for spending some time with me today. Have a lovely day.