Adapted from Lana Shabazz’s iconic recipe, this pie is smooth, sweet, and custard-like, and its spices shine. Don’t leave out the lemon zest: it’s a small but brilliant touch that ties the whole thing together.
Adapted from Lana Shabazz’s recipe from “Cooking for the Champ: Muhammad Ali’s Favorite Recipes,” by Lana Shabazz (Jones-McMillon, 1979)
- Toss together the flours, salt, and sugar. Cut the butter into ½-inch chunks and add it to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until the chunks are roughly the size of peas. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, using a fork to stir it into the mixture. Stir until the dough begins to come together and form a shaggy mass. This may take 4 tablespoons of water, or up to 6 tablespoons. Once a rough dough has formed, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently form it into a flat disc. Wrap the disc tightly in plastic wrap, then place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours or more.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Roll out your pie crust, then grease and line a 9-inch pie plate with it. Set in the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
- In a food processor, blend the butter and sugar until combined. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, and pulse, waiting until each egg is fully combined before adding the next one. Next add the beans, and process continually until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and blend until they are completely combined and the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the filling into the pie crust. Cook for five minutes, then lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool before serving, or else the pie won’t cut cleanly.
Rossi Anastopoulo is a freelance writer and baker. She specializes in Southern foodways and the intersection of pie with social issues of race, class, and gender.