This Hoosier sugar cream pie is perhaps the best dessert to ever come out of Indiana. Who knew a little sugar, flour, cream, and vanilla could become something so magnificent? Easy to understand why it’s so common since it comes together from pantry staples.
The recipe for Hoosier sugar cream pie traveled across the prairie in covered wagons with the earliest settlers of the Indiana Territories. According to pie lore, it was a great favorite of pioneering farm wives who, to avoid washing utensils or a bowl, would throw the few staple ingredients in an unbaked pie shell and mix with their fingers before rushing back to their work in the fields.
At Hoosier Mama, we prebake the pie shell and use utensils, but the basic recipe—cream and sugar thickened with a little flour—remains unchanged. The flavor is wonderful—somewhere between crème brulée and melted caramel ice cream, depending on the exact recipe. Recipes are closely guarded and passed down from generation to generation, with each family claiming its recipe is best. Our recipe, somewhat controversially, calls for both white and brown sugar.
[Editor’s Note: Talk about the sum being exponentially more than the parts. This pie is quite, quite similar to the much ballyhooed pie sold by the much, much, much more ballyhooed Momofuku Milk Bar—part of the David Chang kingdom—in New York City. Seriously, folks. You have got to taste this pie. One bite and you’ll understand the lure.]–Paula Haney
Sugar Cream Pie
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
- Place the pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
- Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix with a whisk or your hands to break up any clumps and to combine ingredients.
- Gently stir in the heavy cream with a wooden spoon or spatula. Do not overmix. (Whipping the cream will prevent the pie from setting.) Stir in the vanilla extract or paste.
- Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pie halfway and bake for 20 to 25 more minutes, until large bubbles cover the surface. The pie will not appear to be set when it comes out of the oven.
- Let the pie cool to room temperature.
- Place the pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing and serving. (The baked pie can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Some folksy like to throw leftover Sugar Cream Pie slices, individually wrapped, in the freezer and snack on them frozen.)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
You definitely don’t have to be a Hoosier to enjoy this pie. Super easy to make—your favorite baked pie crust, cream, and sugar.
The baking was the longest part of the recipe. I chilled the baked pie overnight and served it for dessert the next day. The slices were easy to get out of the pie pan, which was a nice change from leaving half the crust in the pan. I was half (maybe 3/4) expecting the filling to be very sweet.
Not only was it not overly sweet, but it had a nice caramel flavor from the brown sugar and long baking time. The filling itself wasn’t rigid but soft and it didn’t weep or flow when cut. The crust was flaky and rigid, which gave a nice crunchy contrast to the soft filling. I think the confectioners’ sugar dusting was just to gild the lily, so to speak. A dollop of unsweetened whipped cream might be good with the pie also. But this pie can definitely stand on its own.
This is a very unique pie. The flavor and texture are reminiscent of a combination of crème brulee and chess pie. It’s so creamy yet sweet.
I followed the directions and didn’t whisk the cream and sugars for very long—it was about 30 seconds, just long enough to combine all the ingredients, but that was all. I was concerned the filling would come out grainy, but the end result had a light yet creamy feel. The pie emerged from the oven with what looked like a layer of clear butter on the surface. It was a bit disconcerting. Once my pie cooled to room temperature, I placed it in the refrigerator overnight and it was completely set when we were ready for dessert. The baking time was spot-on and the recipe was easy to follow.
This one will make it to my dessert table again.
This was the perfect combination of taste and ease. The ingredients come together in absolutely no time. The texture was smooth and the flavor was great.
I followed the instructions and didn’t whip the mixture; instead, I gently stirred in the cream. The baking time was just right for my pie. Actually, the pie set up a little sooner than 4 hours.
I’d make this pie again.
Originally published May 10, 2020