Sugar Cream Pie

If you’ve been following CurvyMama for long, you might remember how I swooned over the sugar cream pie at Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago. (If you didn’t catch that post, check here.) After two months of inexplicable delays, I am excited to report that I’ve made one of my own, using HMPC’s very own recipe.

Hoosier Mama pastry chef and co-owner Paula Haney was lovely enough to share her recipe with the Food Network, and that’s how it came to me. She was even gracious enough to answer a question I emailed to her about the baking temperature, so I can include her guidance here. The members of Pie Nation are a generous and helpful sort! I love us!

(Note that Paula’s recipe uses a different pie dough than I used here. I’m dying to try hers. Also, she uses an 8-inch pie plate; I use a 9-inch.)

We started by rolling out a circle of our good-old standby: Good Basic All-Butter Pie Dough. Line a 9-inch pan with it, flute the edges, and stick it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to get a really good chill on.

While it’s chilling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the fully chilled pie crust with parchment paper and dried beans, put it on a baking sheet, and bake it for about 15 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment, and keep baking until the crust is golden, about 12 minutes more. Transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly.

While all that’s going on, start on the filling. Combine 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of white sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour in a bowl…

… and mix with a spoon until the brown sugar lumps are gone.

Combine 2 cups of heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla in another bowl, and then whisk it into the flour-sugars mixture…

… until it’s all combined and smooth.

Pour the filling into the baked crust. Put it on a baking sheet and bake it until the edges are starting to set but the center is still wobbly, about 40 minutes.

This is the part that threw me, since it was the first time I made a sugar-cream pie. (What does a New York-and-California girl know about the Indiana state pie? Nothing, other than that it’s drop-dead delicious.)

The recipe never said to lower the oven temperature from the 400 degrees it specifies for baking the crust. That made me skeptical, since I typically find this sort of recipe calls for blind-baking in a hot oven, then reducing the temperature once it’s filled and back in for the rest of the baking.

Paula assured me that this was correct: you bake the crust with pie weights, take it out, let it cool a bit, then fill it with the sugar cream filling and put it right back in at 400 degrees for the rest of the baking time. And yes, the pie will not look “set” when it’s time to take it out, she said in her email. It will be quite wobbly, and the surface will be covered in large bubbles, but it sets up pretty quickly at room temperature, and some more as it chills, so you want to chill it at least a few hours before serving it, she told me.

“The only thing difficult about this recipe,” says Chef Haney, “is telling when the pie is done!”

Sugar Cream Pie, from Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago, via the Food Network

For the Crust:

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes; 4 tablespoons chilled, 3 tablespoons frozen for 15 minutes

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Prepare the crust: Combine the vinegar with 1/2 cup ice water in a small bowl.

Pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the 4 tablespoons chilled butter and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized clumps and the mixture is sandy. Add the 3 tablespoons frozen butter; pulse until the frozen butter is also in pea-sized clumps. Add 5 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture; pulse 2 or 3 more times. Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers. If it does not stay together easily, add 1 more tablespoon of the vinegar mixture and pulse 3 or 4 more times. (Do not let the dough come together.) Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and gather into a lumpy ball; flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, about -inch thick. Fit into an 8-inch pie plate and trim the extra dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang; reserve trimmings. Fold the edges under the rim and crimp. Refrigerate the crust until firm, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line the chilled crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake until the edges are golden, 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights; continue baking until the center of the crust is dry and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cover any cracks in the crust with the dough trimmings before filling.

Prepare the filling: Whisk the sugars and the flour in a medium bowl, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Combine the heavy cream and vanilla in a separate bowl and slowly whisk into the sugar mixture until smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared crust; bake until the pie begins to set around the edge but is still slightly wobbly in the middle, 40 minutes. (Tent loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes if the crust gets too dark.) Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing.