I have to admit, I’ve never really understood pie. Sure, I would eat the obligatory piece of pumpkin pie (piled high with whipped cream) each Thanksgiving, and it was fine. But I would rather enjoy that tasty pumpkin filling in bar form, without that crust mucking things up. I’ve never really been a fan of blueberry or apple or peach pie. Every once and awhile I would come across a rare piece of pie that was enjoyable, but typically not to the point that I would want more than one piece. Usually I don’t even give pie a chance, and just go straight for the brownies, cake, cookies, etc. So pie has always been kind of cast to the back of my baker’s brain, deciding I just wasn’t really a pie person. The only exception to this rule in my life has been in Lexington, Kentucky, when a friend and I happened across the most fantastically marvelous, most unbelievably delicious peanut butter pie. We went back the next day and got another piece. And felt too guilty to go a third time (though we REALLY wanted to). But can I remember even the name of the place it was at? To shower said establishment with specific praises? To make a yearly pilgrimage to return to get more pie? No. But what this does show, is that I CAN be a pie person. It just has to be the right pie. With the right crust.
With a new recipe book that I received for my birthday, I think I am starting to put the pieces of pie together in my mind. And really, I fully expected this book to guide me down the enlightened path of pie. In my mind, however warped, Amish baking is synonymous with simple, good, and delicious. There are a number of Amish and Mennonite communities scattered around Wisconsin, and it seems each is known for a little bakery in someone’s home that pours out sweets and breads and which people flock to. So with high hopes, I did some grocery shopping to pick up some, er, essentials.
There is a reason Amish baked goods taste so gosh darn tasty. And it is something we do not want to acknowledge even exists. But, oh, does IT exist. And IT makes ridiculously good pie crusts. Here, let’s look at the nice jar of flour instead.
My first foray in to the Amish world of baking pies, was this ridiculously simple, yet ridiculously delicious Sugar Cream Pie. It might not look like much, but it tastes like much! Sweet, smooth, custard-like filling with a hint of freshly grated nutmeg. And a lovely, tender, not-too-sweet crust.
Yep. I am a pie person.
Sugar Cream Pie
adapted from The Amish Cook’s Baking Book
1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Lard
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3-4 Tablespoons Milk
Combine dry ingredients. Using your fingers, blend in lard and butter, crumbling with the flour quickly and gently. Mix together milk and oil. Add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork, until a crumbly dough forms. Turn directly into pie plate. Pat the dough with your fingers, first at the sides of the plate, and then across the bottom. Flute the edges as desired.
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup. Brown Sugar, loosely packed
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons All purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 Cup Boiling water
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Whole milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, combine the sugars, flour, and salt until well blended. Slowly add the boiling water and stir until well blended. Then add the cream, milk, vanilla, and nutmeg and stir until the mixture is completely blended. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning, and bake for 25 minutes more, until done. The top should be lightly bubbling all over and no longer liquid, but it should still jiggle like gelatin in the center. Let cool before serving.