Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hoosier Mama's Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Hoosier Mama's Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

I'm a bad Hoosier. For someone who studies and champions local identity, this is a bit of a hard thing to understand about myself, but it's true. I just don't have much pride for my home state. Growing up, I imagined I'd live in the big city of Chicago, and as soon as I graduated high school, I made a beeline across the border to Michigan-- a state I considered--and still do--much cooler (to be fair it was only about 5 miles away from where I grew up). To counteract this, though, I keep a running list of "cool" things (besides my family) about Indiana when I discover them, things to be proud of about my home state. To date, it includes: Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Johnny Appleseed, and Ball Jars.

Hoosier Mama Pie Company

Also on that list: Paula Haney and Hoosier Mama Pie Company. Granted, the shop is actually in Chicago, but Paula is an Indiana native, incredible pie baker, and someone who reps hard for the state and does a lot to celebrate its food history. We also have a similar interest in valuing home bakers and traditional recipes, both love an all-butter crust, and share a common love for rhubarb. Score one for the home team.

Pie Crusts at Hoosier Mama Pie Company Hoosier Mama's Funeral Pie

Though I'd been there before, and we occasionally share pie curiosities via the internet, In February, I finally had the chance to sit down with Paula for a slice of pie, and a face-to-face chat about her bakery. There in the bay window of the small shop, she told me that one of the reasons she started her shop is that she felt that while here in the states we were acknowledging the poor foods of other countries, we weren't recognizing those of our own country and region. For her (like me), pie was something that was always present at every holiday, it was something simple, rooted in tradition, where home bakers took what they had, and made something out of it. At the shop she offers some of these simple home recipes-- things like Oatmeal Pie, Vinegar Chess Pie, and Hoosier Sugar Cream, which she invited me back to the kitchen to bake.

Apple Pie at Hoosier Mama Pie Company
Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie at Hoosier Mama Pie Company

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie, which Paula found in the 1965 edition of the Farm Journal Pie Cookbook, is a true "desperation pie," listed as a historical oddity. The story goes that Indiana farm wives would throw all of the ingredients in the pie shell, stir it with their fingers, throw it in the oven, and go back out into the fields. Whatever the story, it is shockingly simple, and though not much of a looker, it's quite a pleasant surprise when you taste the rich caramel custard flavor of the smooth, oozy filling.

Hoosier Mama's Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie
Via Hoosier Mama Pie Co.

Makes 1, 9-inch pie

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
1 pinch kosher salt
2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract


1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Pierce the bottom of the shell all over with a fork, and let chill for 15 more minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375.

2. Line chilled pie shell with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes just until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven, and take out parchment and dried beans. Let cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugars, flour, and salt. Use a whisk or your hands to break up any clumps and combine ingredients.

4. With a wooden spoon, gently stir in the heavy cream. Do not overmix--whipping the cream will prevent the pie from setting. Stir in the vanilla paste or extract and mix to combine.

5. Pour filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Bake pie for 20 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes more, until large bubbles cover the surface. Pie will be quite jiggly and will not appear to be set when it comes out of the oven.

6. Let pie cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight before slicing. Dust with sifted confectioner's sugar before serving. Pie may be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Hoosier Mama's Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie Slice

Thanks so much to Paula and the gang at Hoosier Mama for making my visit a highlight of my Chicago Pie Tour and for welcoming me into the kitchen to roll crusts, mix fillings, and ogle the old-fashioned apple peeler. As Paula said in our chat, pie is a natural slow food--you can't eat it on the go, so it requires you to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and talk to people. A Hoosier mentality to be proud of.


Violetpatch said...

Our family's version did not use brown sugar, and sprinkled the top with nutmeg. Thanks so much for including this, our family's favorite.

emily said...

Are you from Indiana? Paula said her mother-in-law's recipe also doesn't contain brown sugar. Nutmeg on top sounds good!

Anonymous said...

Being from Indiana, our family recipe doesn't use brown sugar either. We also dust with nutmeg! Nothing is better than sugar cream pie to make you get a great taste of IN

Bonita said...

Family recipe does not use brown sugar or nutmeg. I do remember my grandmother making it and stirring it in the crust with her finger. She also used some flour, and added evaporated milk to regular milk. No vanilla. Came out thin with layers of ingredients and brown baked bubbles on top. Now I am craving.

Carol said...

My recipe (also a Hoosier) doesn't call for brown sugar and does have nutmeg sprinkled on the top. My husband remembers his mom using the stir with your finger method. She stirred it every few minutes even in the oven until it was too hot to stick her finger in. Then a few more minutes and it was done.

CakeSpy said...

YUM YUM YUM YUM. I'm all about every type of pie since National Pie Day is nearing, and I especially love plays on words. Hoosier Mama! LOVE IT! This is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Have made this with and without brown sugar. The brown sugar version is the one guests like best.

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