Sugar Cream Pie

There aren't very many Midwesterners here at Harvard, and especially not that many people from Indiana. I think my state sends maybe ten or so every year; I don't know the exact statistics, but there's few enough of us that I know most of them by name, even if not personally, since I get the "Oh, you're from Indiana. You must know xyz, they're from Indiana too" quite often. "Oh, I've never met anyone from Indiana" happens a lot too.

My personal favorite is getting people to believe me when I say that my high school has 4800 people because there's really only the one high school in Indiana, seeing as we're very rural and all. (Some kids have to wake up at 5 to catch the bus....) I can't complain though, because God knows I've spent enough time making fun of Indiana.

But I think I've become a lot more proud of my state since I got to Boston, and met a couple of East Coast snobs. Yes, it's boring, yes, there's a lot of corn, yes, it's very, very Republican, and yes, I used to watch the cows graze in the field across the street while on the swings during recess. But somebody has to defend it.

And if nothing else, Indiana gave the world this gorgeous sugar cream pie. (Our state pie, in fact. And yes, we have a state pie. And a state rifle, apparently....) I don't know how common it is outside of Indiana, but it's somewhat similar to buttermilk or chess pie from the South.

I think the name sums it up pretty well: it's sweet and custardy, ever so lightly spiced, and with a caramelized top. It's also incredibly simple. There's no tempering of eggs or anything fussy like that to get this smooth, creamy filling. You just mix together all the ingredients and pour it into the crust, and then sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top.

So give it a try. It's so easy there's no excuse not to. (You could even use a refrigerated pie crust if you don't want to make one!) And then take a big bite and let the creamy custard melt on your tongue and imagine corn fields and soy bean fields and the smell of cow manure.

Just kidding on that last part...but really, you should make it. You'll be glad you did.

Hoosier pride.

Sugar Cream Pie

Click here for the printer-friendly recipe.
Yields: 1 9-inch pie | Adapted from Country Living

Pie Crust*
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½  cup butter, cubed and very cold
¼ cup buttermilk, very cold

1 ½ cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon


Make the crust. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.

Add the butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until it is in small pieces. Alternately, place the flour in a food processor, and the butter, and pulse until same result is achieved.

Mix in the buttermilk, one or two tablespoons at a time until the dough barely comes together.Gather the dough together in a ball and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together all the ingredients for the filling.

Roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle, or so that when if you place the pie plate face-down on the dough, there should be about an inch of dough around the edge. Place the dough into the pie plate, and trim and shape the edges.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the filling. Pour the filling into the pie plate. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping, and sprinkle over the top of the pie. Wrap the edges of the pie in tin foil, covering the crust so that it doesn’t brown too much in the oven.

Bake the pie for about 1 hour - 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the center of the pie is just set. Remove the foil around the pie after 30 minutes.