No one can imagine a holiday without pie, and J. Doe from Sprung At Last is here today to talk about one of her favorite classic–and cheap!–pie recipes for Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie, as well as the difficulties of dieting while being a food blogger. Onward and pie-ward!
No one can hide from the truth forever, so here is my truth: I am a very poor excuse for a food blogger. Some of this may be due to the fact that I’m not really a food blogger, I’m just someone with a blog who happens to enjoy cooking.
Mostly, though, this is due to another truth: I gained a lot of weight during my unfortunate marriage, and gained even more since its abrupt end.
I tried lying at first, telling myself I hadn’t really gained that much. But my pants never lie, and they told a different story. Lose it, they said, and after a while, I listened.
Dieting is hard, and being a food blogger on a diet is harder still.
A better person than the one I am would probably write about healthy food and low-calorie eating, but not me: I am in deep denial that anyone could find kale edible under any circumstances, and furthermore, I don’t want to be anywhere near a kitchen when I am trying not to think about the kind of food I actually do want to eat.
When I’m not on a diet, the kitchen is place of memories, inspired by the comforting smell of roast chicken, or the astonishingly light weight of my grandmother’s beloved cast iron skillet. When I am on a diet, the kitchen is simply a room full of reminders of things I’d rather be eating: A hundred or so cookbooks, many of them devoted to cakes, pies, and cookies.
Like most people, I like the idea of healthy eating. I own a juicer. It was a gift, and I’ve never actually plugged it in, but I dedicate valuable countertop space to it, and I feel like must surely count of something.
My pants disagree.
I start my diet in the early fall. By the end of fall, I’ve lost some weight, by which I mean, more than twenty pounds. Three pants sizes.
I donate my disagreeable pants to charity, and take myself shopping for a happier pair.
The holidays roll around, and though I begin the season worried about the upcoming buffets and potlucks, it turns out it is not that hard to just eat a little bit of everything, when that has become the habit. I find I’m relaxed - enjoying myself, even. I look forward to baking the things I will contribute. I look forward to writing about them on my blog.
The stars seem to align for the return of my blog, but my friends have other things in mind: They all have their favorites, and with each invitation comes a request for something I’ve made before. Tradition! That pie!
That pie is sugar cream pie, a dessert I researched especially for a poverty-themed party last April 15. I discovered it in Paula Haney’s wonderful cookbook, Hoosier Mama’s Book of Pie, in the chapter of Depression-era recipes titled Desperation Pies. (Other entries in this chapter include Vinegar Pie, something I’ve not yet been personally desperate enough to make.) I tried to keep to the party’s theme with every step of the pie-making process. I resisted the urge to buy the cookbook online, and checked it out of the library. My plan might have been a frugal one, too, if I had not then left the book where my dog could get at it and chew off half the cover before I noticed.
I should probably mind the fact that I ended up paying full price for a heavily used and damaged cookbook, but I don’t. The pie was a hit at the poverty party, and was a hit again at the holiday potluck.
It is easy to make, especially if you do as I do and cheat a little by using a ready-made crust. Just prebake the crust and let it cool, then fill and bake to set the filling. Remember to leave a couple hours – at least four – to chill the pie completely before serving, or it won’t set correctly. You can reduce this time somewhat by resting the pie dish in a pan of ice water once it has cooled a bit, but you will get the best results by chilling it thoroughly before serving.
And if you forget, the pie will still be tasty, just a bit messy.
Recipe: Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie
Adapted from Paula Haney, Hoosier Mama’s Book of Pie
- 1 single-crust pie shell of your choice
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- two vanilla beans
- Cut vanilla beans open lengthwise, and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds out. You will have about ¾ tsp of vanilla bean seeds, put in a small bowl and set aside. (Save the bean pods for some other purpose, like vanilla sugar.)
- Pre-bake the pie shell according to the directions, and set aside to cool.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Whisk the sugar, brown sugar, flour, and salt together in a medium bowl. Use your hands to break up any clumps, if needed.
- Gently whisk in the heavy cream; taking care not to beat too much, as whipping the cream will prevent the pie from setting. Stir in the vanilla seeds.
- Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pie, and bake another 20-25 minutes.
- When the pie is ready, the top surface will be beautifully browned and bubbling vigorously; it will not look set.
- Set the pie on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least four hours before slicing.
- If you have vanilla paste, you can substitute 1 tsp for the vanilla bean seeds.
- If you are pressed for time, cool the pie for 15-20 minutes on a wire rack, then set it in a pan of icewater, as high as you can get without touching the rim, and place in the refrigerator to cool. This will reduce the time needed to cool the pie by about half. (Or, make the pie a day ahead, and save yourself some stress!)
- This recipe was originally included in this blog post.