Lemon Coconut Buttermilk Pie


Tangy buttermilk and lemon are offset by sweet coconut that browns as this sugar-crusted pie bakes.


  • Sugar Crust

  • 1 coconut

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • cup buttermilk

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest


  1. While the sugar crust is being refrigerated, test each of the three eyes at the stem end of the coconut to see which is the softest. Then, use an ice pick or a screwdriver and a hammer to pierce two of the eyes. Strain water through a fine sieve into a bowl; reserve for another use or discard.

  2. Place coconut on a rimmed baking sheet; bake for 30 minutes, or until coconut shell begins to crack. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

  3. Wrap coconut in a clean kitchen towel; holding coconut with one hand, hit it with a hammer in the same place several times to crack the outer shell and split the coconut into several large pieces.

  4. Separate coconut flesh from shell, and use a vegetable peeler to remove the dark outer skin. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the coconut, creating long shaved pieces about 1/4 inch wide. You will need 1 1/4 cups; chill remaining coconut in an airtight container for another use.

  5. Remove crust from refrigerator. Cover with parchment, and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.

  6. Prepare the custard: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until pale yellow and creamy. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice, beating until well combined. Mix in lemon zest and 1 cup shredded coconut.

  7. Pour mixture into pie crust. Sprinkle with remaining coconut, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and continue baking until pie is golden brown and custard is set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

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