Buttermilk Chess Pie at Four and Twenty Blackbirds

After eating at Sheep Station, my friends Jess and Garrett recommended that we get a slice of pie at Four and Twenty Blackbirds. They both raved about it, particularly about the salted caramel apple pie. To our dismay we found the shop closed, and we continued on our way. I mentioned it to Donny, and we decided to go there one day. A few days later I was at Prospect Park when I got a text message from Donny: “Pie at black birds?” By the time I got there, though, one of the servers was crossing out the flavors of pie that were no longer available. In fact she was crossing out ALL of the pies, including “and more’ except one: buttermilk chess pie.

What is “chess pie”? I had to look it up afterward. Apparently when you add cornmeal to a pie filling, that makes it a chess pie. It has absolutely nothing to do with the game of chess. In any case, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that there was cornmeal in the filling. It was rich and custard-y, and slightly tangy from the buttermilk. It kind of reminded me of the filling in a cheese danish, and I love cheese danish. There was also a dollop of whipped cream, which was super light and airy, and not very sweet. I though the crust was a little on the chewy side, but that’s just nit-picking.

Donny: I really liked the place. It was airy and had a high ceiling. The chess pie was deeellicious! I love any sort of custard-y things and I agree with Howard about the crust. It was quite difficult to cut through the crust but of course we did go toward the end of the day.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds — 439 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn


2 thoughts on “Buttermilk Chess Pie at Four and Twenty Blackbirds

  1. It was my understanding that chess pie, was derived from the saying that it was “just pie” – with a southern accent! Since it doesn’t have fruit filling, it was “just pie”. Anyway, that’s what I was told about 100 years ago.


    1. i consulted the ultimate authority on the issue (wikipedia) and they say that your theory is one of two. the other theory is: “There is also a theory that the word “chess” pie comes from the piece of furniture that was common in the early South called a pie chest or pie safe. Chess pie may have been called chest pie at first because it held up well in the pie chest.” everyone agrees that it has to have cornmeal in it.


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