Tipsy Transparent Pie

You hear an awful lot about transparency these days – in business and government, in education and on the internet. But there’s a type of transparency that’s dreadfully overlooked and needs many more champions, so I’m counting on you. It’s called transparent pie. 

Courtesy of Ken Haedrich dean of The Pie Academy

Transparent pie is to Kentucky what chess pie is to the Carolinas and a handful of Southern states – a simple pie made from everyday ingredients you’d have on hand if the pantry were almost bare. Unlike most chess pie recipes, however, vinegar or lemon juice is seldom called for, and transparent pies often contain cream, like this one. Thus, you don’t cut Texas-size pieces lest you risk a weeklong sugar high. This 9-inch pie will yield 10 to 12 slices, and is best garnished with unsweetened whipped cream.

Courtesy Ken Haedrich dean of The Pie Academy

I’m guessing the name transparent comes from the shimmering filling which, sliced thin enough, you can practically see through. Note the tip of the slice just above. As for the tipsy part of the title, that’s my own doing – a slug of whiskey for the holidays. It’s entirely optional, but would be perfectly fitting this holiday week if it’s a good match for your crowd.

Courtesy Ken Haedrich dean of The Pie Academy

Texturally, transparent pie has a firmish, jelly-like filling which transforms as it bakes and then cools. The top becomes crusty in the oven, softens as it cools, and then crusts over again when the pie is refrigerated. You can serve it pretty much anywhere in this evolution, from lukewarm to chilled, chilled being my preferred temperature.

Now, will you stand with me on transparency in pie? You won’t regret it.

Ken Haedrich dean of The Pie Academy

PASTRY NOTE: Use your favorite single crust pie dough recipe here. If you don’t have one, let me suggest the Good Basic Pie Dough or the Simple Pie Dough By Hand. 

Tipsy Transparent Pie

Yield 10-12 servings


  • Pastry for a single crust pie
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whiskey (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, for garnish


  1. If you haven't already, prepare and refrigerate your pie dough for at least 45 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 1/2- to 13-inch circle and line a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it. Form the overhanging dough into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the ridge and refrigerate the shell for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 16-inches long. Carefully - so you don’t disturb the dough - line the pie shell with the foil, pressing it into the creases so it fits like a glove. Add a thick layer of dried beans, banking them up the sides.
  3. Bake the pie shell on the center oven rack for 25 minutes. Slide it out and carefully remove the foil and beans. Re-poke the holes if they’ve filled in. Slide the shell back in and bake another 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pie shell to a cooling rack. Once cooled, smear a little cream cheese or sour cream into the fork holes to plug them. Cool the beans thoroughly, store in a jar, and save them for next time.
  4. Set the oven temperature to 350°. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer - hand held is fine - beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each one. Add the cream, vanilla, and whiskey and beat again. Shake the flour over the liquid and beat gently, scraping down the sides, until evenly blended.
  5. Put the pie shell on a large baking sheet, near the oven, and slowly add the filling. Place the sheet and pie on the center oven rack and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling has puffed up and the top is a rich golden brown. Note that the top will crust over and the pie may look prematurely done, but if you nudge the pie you will see that the filling moves in waves beneath the surface. When the pie is actually done, you should be able to wiggle the pan and see the entire filling wobble together.
  6. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool. Serve lukewarm, at room temperature, or chilled. When you refrigerate the pie, cover it with tented foil so it doesn't touch the top of the pie. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream.