Baby in a Corn Tree

August 2, 2011

If you are a parent and you live in the Seattle area, chances are you have heard of Caspar Babypants.  Mr. Babypants is the alter ego of Chris Ballew, otherwise known as the lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America and also former schoolmate of mine.  (He was several years ahead of me so while I knew who he was, he had no idea I existed.)  Caspar Babypants has four CDs of music out that are extremely unique in that kids and adults alike know and love the songs.  I will get them stuck in my head for days.  My kids know the words and whenever we see him around town (he does frequent and free shows), I am always amazed at how the kids just dig him.

One of his songs is called “Baby in a Corn Tree” and has the lyric, “Baby in a corn tree, wants to wear a poncho, flying through the river on a steaming hot day.”  It makes no sense but it is catchy.  So catchy in fact, that whenever I contemplate making or eating corn, this very lyric pops into my head.  Seeing as we are barreling down the path to full-blown corn season, this could be a problem.

It’s worth it though, having a children’s song lyric that makes no sense stuck in my head for the next month or so, if it means I can eat things like this pie.

I had a, uh, moment last night with my husband over this pie.  I made it because I have been wanting to ever since it came out in Gourmet (sniff), because I needed to test it for some upcoming classes, because it sounded so incredibly good to me, and because I thought Randy would love it.  A tender crust, tomatoes, fresh corn, herbs, sharp Cheddar cheese – all right up Randy’s alley, especially the corn part.  But no.  He liked the crust but thought the filling needed more “oomph”.  What exactly have I created here?  Randy is, of course, welcome to his opinions and is generous with his praise when he likes something, but disappointed because of lack of “oomph” in a homemade savory pie on a Monday night?  People, can I get an amen here?

For the record, in my opinion, there was no lack of oomph.  It’s summer and that means that good ingredients speak for themselves.  There is no need for a thick custard filling when tomatoes and corn and herbs are at seasonal perfection.  The crust is super easy to make and is perfect for this particular pie – not too crust-like, more like a biscuit.  I wondered why a bit of mayo thinned with lemon juice made an appearance here but it was a perfect bit of creaminess without being too heavy.

As much as I loved Gourmet and as much as I miss receiving it in my mailbox every month, their recipes often seemed overly fussy to me.  I have streamlined this one a bit to make it more of a weeknight meal.

One Year Ago:  Holly B’s Fruit Scones
Two Years Ago:  Zesty Tofu Wraps
Three Years Ago:  Pasta with Cauliflower and Peppers, and Walnut Pesto

Tomato and Corn Pie
Adapted from Gourmet
Serves 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1¾ tsp. salt, divided
¾ stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, plus 2 tsp. melted
¾ cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise (DT:  I used low-fat)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more as necessary
2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, sliced crosswise ¼-inch thick, divided
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cobs
¼ cup chopped fresh basil, divided
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ cup sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and ¾ tsp. salt, then blend in cold butter (¾ stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until is resembles coarse meal.  Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface, into a 12-inch round.  The dough is pretty sticky, so be sure to keep moving it around the surface and sprinkling lightly with flour as needed.  Roll the dough over the rolling pin and unroll it into a 9-inch pie plate.  Pat into place with your fingers and trim any overhang.

Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.  You want a thick pourable consistency, so add more lemon juice if necessary.

Arrange half of the tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half the corn half the herbs, ½ tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Repeat with another layer of the same.  Sprinkle with half the cheese.  Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal.  Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 tsp).

Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. I will have to look into that music for our little guy:) I love recipes that use fresh summer produce. The pie looks great!

    Comment by Maria — August 2, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  2. When I made this last night I frenchified it and added garlic to the mayo and replaced the cheddar cheese with gruyere. (also, replaced the basil with thyme) Try that on Randy. Ken REALLY liked the garlic, especially.

    Comment by Kate @ Savour Fare — August 2, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  3. I love this pie and I make it all the time. I’ve even made a version for winter with butternut squash and caramelized onions. So good & easy! Perfect summer fare.

    Comment by kickpleat — August 2, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

  4. reminds me of my tomato pie (not pizza).
    i really want to try this one–it looks so good dana.

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — August 3, 2011 @ 12:33 am

  5. That looks super oomphy to me! Any excuse to eat pie on a weeknight…or to make pie on a weeknight. Now that is oomphy enough in and of itself!

    Comment by Joanne — August 3, 2011 @ 1:34 am

  6. I was obsessing over corn and tomatoes on the way home tonight and baking in my oven is a tart with the zucchini I found in my garden, some corn I picked up at the market and tomatoes from the fruit stand. I feel your pain at Randy’s response – I get that sometimes from my guy, something I think is delicious gets a “meh – needs something” and I’m thinking these ingredients are lovely together. This looks delicious and I’ll try this version soon.

    Comment by Charlotte — August 3, 2011 @ 1:35 am

  7. I have made this recipe the past three summers for my husband’s birthday and we all LOVED it. Looking forward to making it this weekend. Only problem is that it does use a lot of dishes.
    Randy is wrong on this one.

    Comment by karen — August 3, 2011 @ 4:43 am

  8. I make a version of this every summer w/ the surplus of Jersey tomatoes. I am due! Everyone loves it! So good! Yum!

    Comment by stacey snacks — August 3, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  9. Well, I must side with you on this, this pie seems overflowing with oomph.

    HOWEVER, when I need to oomph-up something, I add a few squirts of Sriracha to it, usually on my own plate, as my beloved is not into hot as much as I (well, that did sound a little strange, but we are talking food here, so there! ;-)

    Comment by SallyBR — August 3, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  10. Dana!
    Of all the things I have loved that you have made…this is one of my faves!
    I love savory pies!
    LOVE the fresh veggies!
    This is a keeper!

    Comment by teresa — August 3, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  11. My husband was a fan of Presidents of the United States. Has always wondered why they didn’t come out with more records. I’ll have to tell him he’s making children’s records now.

    Comment by Lisa @ The Cooking Bride — August 3, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

  12. my son loves caspar + i know alllll the words to the songs and they get stuck in my head, too. he’s great! and this pie looks scrumptious ;)

    Comment by helen — August 3, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  13. Speaking of corn season, I bought more fresh corn at the store today despite the fact that I had four ears sitting in my refrigerator at home. When I saw the corn at the store, I couldn’t help thinking it won’t be available much longer, and well, fresh summer corn is amazing. It looks fantastic in this savory pie.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — August 5, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  14. Oh wow! This pie looks amazing! I need to make this before summer is over…it looks delicious! :)

    Comment by Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen — August 5, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

  15. I made this yesterday and it. was. amazing! I ended up using a olive oil crust and switching parm. for cheddar. The tomatoes and corn were like candy because they were so sweet! Even my husband liked it!

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

    Comment by The Glamorous Housewife — August 6, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

  16. Mmmmmm…I’m not super excited with just tomato pies and this was the key! Incredible. I made it exactly like your recipe but used the food processor to make the crust (yes I think you could call that laziness). But it turned out FAB!!! Not blah at all. In fact I loved how the summer flavors of everything (including the milder-than-onions chives) came through individually. Thank you for your blog. I enjoy it immensely.

    Comment by Chris Koelker — August 7, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

  17. Every once in a while I come across a recipe that I can’t stop thinking about until it’s made. This is one of them!

    Comment by michelle — August 8, 2011 @ 1:15 am

  18. I love the pie itself. However, the bottom crust tends to get more soggy. Any suggestions? I even drained off much as much of the tomato juice as possible when I put it into the bottom crust.


    Comment by sharon buffington — August 30, 2011 @ 1:05 am

  19. This is one of my all time favourite meals mmm. I have a bunch of juicy tomatoes from my CSA – maybe I should use them to make this.

    Comment by Ashley — August 30, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

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