Sugar Cream

Well… THAT was an adventure on a cold, miserable day. Freezing rain, sleet, and rain have come and gone like unwelcome guests at an open house. I started off this week NOT wanting to bake this pie. The Lemon Meringue the other weekend reminded me of Spring. But now all I want is a spiked cup of coffee and for this pie to taste like virgin eggnog.

As the state pie of Indiana, there's been tons written on its history by much better and deeply researched authors than myself. Hoosier Pie, or Sugar Cream Pie, sets itself apart from most other desperation pies by it's lack of eggs. Buttermilk, vinegar, and chess pie all traditionally contain egg. Hoosier Pie though uses a starch, usually flour but sometimes cornstarch. It's a quick and simple pie dating back to the early 1800s when Indiana was the frontier. Flour, sugar, and salt are mixed. Cream, maybe milk, some vanilla, and possibly butter are added in. Some recipes call for cinnamon or nutmeg. Mixing methods vary from mixing everything by hand IN an unbaked crust to cooking the filling in the double boiler. I’m going for simple with this. Brown sugar, mostly cream, flour, vanilla, nutmeg, mixed together and baked in a par-baked shell.

Only two of my cookbooks have a recipe for this pie so I turned to the internet. The recipe below is a combination of several different ones found online.  It’s mostly built around one the HistoricIndianopolis.com’s adaptation of a recipe from The Hoosier Cookbook but heavily informed by What's Cooking American and Jenni Field's Fearless in the Kitchen.

Because it’s a few basic ingredients, I’ve bought fresh heavy cream, whole nutmeg, and turbinado sugar. Why turbinado? I'm afraid white sugar will be too sweet and single noted while brown sugar too much.

I dumped the dries into the shell, poured the liquids in, and tried to mix them with my fingers. That’s the old-timey way. Um, yeah, next time I’ll use a bowl. I had too much filling and the stirring pushed some out of the shell.

Into the oven it went, already dribbling and dripping. Checking at the 30 minute mark, smoke streamed out as I opened the oven. The filling was boiling over onto the oven floor. At 40 minutes, more dripping, more smoke and the filling roiled but needed color. I placed a sheet pan under to catch the drips. At 55, I called it done. No sooner was the pie out and on the counter, than the milk fat, pooled on the oven floor, ignited. IG. NITE. ED. Yes, this pie tried to burn down the house. My lovely partner perked up, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and said “Heyyyy! I get to use this!” She was pretty stoked.

Now, it’s chilling in the fridge. We’ll slice it open in the morning. I’ve a feeling the Hoosier Pie will earn a redo.

Twelve Hours Later

It’s good! The sugar never dissolved into the cream and left a gritty layer. It was also too sweet, quite something for a Southerner to say. But the cream part of the filling was delightful and simple. Next time I bake it, I’ll reduce the sugar by a half cup and mix all the ingredients in a bowl before going into the shell.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • Partially Baked 9" Crust

Filling

(This is what I baked. Next time I'm holding out the white sugar.)

  • 1c light brown sugar

  • 1/2c white sugar

  • 1/3c flour

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2c heavy cream

  • 1/2 whole milk

  • 1tsp vanilla

  • Fresh Nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚

  2. Mix Sugars, flour, and salt in a bowl.

  3. Make a well and add liquid ingredients to the dries.

  4. Stir till combined.

  5. Pour into the baked shell.

  6. Grate nutmeg on top.

  7. Bake till the filling bubbles, 35-50 minutes?

  8. Put out grease fire.

  9. Cool and eat.