15 January 2011

Indiana Buttermilk and Ivy House Indiana Sugar Cream Pies

Our Sugar and Cream theme continues this week with two entries from the Hoosier State. I guess they must like their pies down there in Indiana. Maybe it's the Amish influence? Maybe it's just good old-fashioned Midwest hospitality?

Both of these pies, Indiana Buttermilk Pie and Ivy House Indiana Sugar Cream Pie, come from Haedrich's Pie, and I would classify both of these as pantry pies (all ingredients typically on hand), presuming that you live in a household that keeps buttermilk around on a fairly regular basis.

Buttermilk Pie: Given the questionable results of the Amish Milk Pie last week, I was concerned about buttermilk pie, as the ingredients list is nearly similar. The buttermilk pie swaps out buttermilk (natch) for the evaporated milk and adds a generous helping of eggs. Chief among the differences, though, is that all of the ingredients are blended together before pouring into the parbaked pie shell - no oozy separation of layers here.
Buttermilk & butter; sugars, flour, & salt; eggs & vanilla

I did find it critical to have the buttermilk not refrigerator cold. When I added the melted butter to the cold buttermilk, the butter set up into chunks - not the nice smooth liquid that it should be! A quick zap in the microwave took care of that and assembly continued unhindered.

The crust for this pie shrank quite a bit in the process of par-baking - so much so that I was nervous that the filling wouldn't all fit. But it ended up nearly perfect. The filling doesn't expand much at the edges, and although the center puffs up quite a bit, it settles back flat when cooled.

That's one puffy pie! Soufflé, anyone?

The recipe calls for cooking "until golden brown and set, about 40 minutes." I kept my pie in the oven almost 15 minutes past the recommended 40, waiting for golden brown. My patience was rewarded with a gorgeous looking pie. The color is strongly reminiscent of perfectly done yellow cornbread.

To my tongue, the flavor of this pie was difficult to nail down. There is a definite tang from the buttermilk, but besides that, it's rather unique. Tiffany mentioned that it tastes like Danish butter cookies (I didn't make the connection, but that's just me). Overall verdict - if offered a piece when in Shipshewana or Terre Haute, I'd probably give it a whirl, but I don't think I'll keep this one in my personal repertoire.

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Ivy House Indiana Sugar Cream Pie: The mouthful of a name for this pie comes from a bed-and-breakfast just outside Indianapolis, from which Ken Haedrich collected this recipe as representative of a regional favorite dessert. I'll start out by saying this is a fabulous pie, well-received by all that sampled it, and if it weren't so darned caloric, I'd almost keep this around every week.

In reviewing the recipe, I was struck by its similarity to a vanilla pudding I had made just the night before. I'd never made pudding from scratch and the recipe came across by blog reader - I had everything on hand, so why not? It only dawned on me later that it makes perfect sense - all those boxes of Jell-O chocolate pudding I grew up on always said (in small print) "pudding and pie filling" - we just never made it far enough to put it in a crust!

Back to the pie. I enjoyed the pie filling much more than the pudding. It came out smoother; my hunch is that mixing the sugar, cornstarch, butter, and milk together before heating (pie) left less room for grainy error than adding hot milk to the dry ingredients (pudding). In truth, the pie filling was closer to pastry cream than pudding, but give me a bowl of pastry cream any day and I'll be happy. (I may even re-purpose the cream as a cake layer filling - but that's another story).

As one might imagine, sugar is a critical ingredient.

Who needs crust?

Once filled, this pie does not go back into the oven. The pastry cream filling goes into a fully baked crust, then the whole assembly goes into the chill chest to firm up (if you can wait that long!). I made the filling while the crust was baking, but as the crust cooled, the filling set up quite a bit. Next time, I think I would hold off on cooking the filling until the crust was out of the oven and on the cooling rack.

As one might imagine, the flavor of the Sugar Cream Pie is amazing. Creamy and rich, you taste every calorie, but you don't care. I recommend serving slim slices with fresh berries (we had strawberries and blueberries in the house) and perhaps a dollop of whipped cream on top. I even had some for breakfast one morning and didn't think it all inappropriate.

Next time: Sugar and spice, but is it nice?

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