Sugar Cream Pie

The Holiday Season, whether Christmas, Hanukkak or Zwanza, is a time for sweets. Plum pudding, jelly doughnuts, sweet potato pie, are some of the traditional weight gainers during this time. With that in mind, let me offer another sweet that is not that well known outside of a certain region. What I'm talking about is sugar cream pie, a dish almost exclusive to Indiana. I don't know anywhere else where it's so popular.

The origins of sugar cream pie can be traced to Indiana's Amish community in the 1850s. Other sources credit the Shaker community for its invention. The Shakers were a religious sect that migrated from England to America in the 18th century. They were an interesting lot. Their actual name was "The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming." So why were they called the "Shakers?" Apparently this came about due to their fervor during their religious communal meetings where they would sing, shout and dance, twitching and shaking all over the place. Apart from this shaking business, they are remembered for the quality of their craftsmanship, especially in the style know as "Shaker furniture," which today because of its workmanship and quality is rather expensive to acquire.

The Shakers believed in frugality and good, honest labor. They also believed in celibacy---which became a sticking point since they couldn't reproduce themselves. According to The Independent, a publication in the United Kingdom, as of December 2009 there were only three members left in the continental U.S. But, as with their Amish brethren (who don't believe in celibacy) they left us such a delight as sugar cream pie. Both groups believed in good, hearty, healthy food. But that does not preclude their sweet tooth as exemplified by this dessert.

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
8-inch unbaked pie shell

1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.
2. Gradually add cream, vanilla, and butter; and stir until smooth.
3. Pour into pie shell and bake 35 minutes at 450 degrees F., or 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature before serving. 
    Yield: 6-8 servings.

 Photo: Courtesy of Food Frenzy

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