sugar pie – a stunning combination of sweet, silk and crisp

sugar pie -  a stunning combination of sweet, silk and crisp - bitebymichelle.com

Sugar Pie; the quintessential Canadian spring time pie.

I read somewhere that sugar pie or tarte au sucre is as old as Canada. It stands to reason that after a long, harsh Canadian winter with larders and store-rooms empty of anything fresh, if a housewife wanted to make a pie her ingredient list would be short. Lucky for me, I live in the land of the mighty maple tree and maple syrup runs in the early spring. Those pioneer cooks were so trendy using only local ingredients!

When I was nine years old, I was selected to be part of a small French immersion program scheduled to spend a weekend in and about old Quebec City and the country side. Beyond the thrill of riding a train for the first time, sleeping in a hotel room without adults and attempting to only speak in french, I was gob smacked with French Canadian food. Fresh herbs, french cheeses, garlic and wine were not ingredients found in my mom’s meat and potato kitchen. Every meal, that weekend, was a sensory celebration. My eyes, nose, ears and mouth were discovering a brand new world of food. Of all my wondrous French Canadian food discoveries, my favourite was a simple slice of sugar pie.

sugar pie -  a stunning combination of sweet, silk and crisp - bitebymichelle.com

We were taken by mini-bus into the country, to a century old farmhouse, where we were fed a ‘pioneer’s dinner’.. Most of the evening is lost in the dusty corners of my memory, but the taste of that sugar pie is as clear as if I’d just put a fork full in my mouth. It was served on a white dinner plate with a pewter four-tine fork. I loved the negative space surrounding the pie. At nine years old, I wasn’t of the power aware of negative visual space but I did know that the pie looked beautifully opulent on the over-sized dinner plate. The dull patina and heavy weight of the pewter fork made each mouthful incredibly elegant. The crust was buttery and crisp. The filling was a stunning combination of sweet and silk. It was a perfect blend of taste and texture.

sugar pie -  a stunning combination of sweet, silk and crisp - bitebymichelle.com

When I found Mme. Benoit’s pastry recipe, I knew immediately what filling I wanted to pour into the pie shell. After half a century of thinking about that slice of sugar pie, I decided to write my own recipe. I knew the filling would want to bubble over in the oven, so I purposely used a deep crust. When I first poured the filling into the large shell, I worried that I might end up with too little filling and too much crust. Happily, I didn’t second guess myself because my hunch worked. Instead of spilling over and burning onto the floor of my oven, the filling turned into a sugar volcano and erupted and flowed onto itself until it turned into a gorgeous caramel.

It’s really important to bake pastry in a clear pie plate so you can see if the crust is golden on the bottom. When its golden underneath, you know the pastry is cooked through. How many times have you pushed your fork through a beautifully baked top crust only to find the bottom crust raw in the centre? Being able to see the bottom of your pie eliminates any chance of a soggy crust. The challenge with sugar pie is the filling is ready before the crust is crispy. To avoid the filling over-browning, lay a piece of aluminium foil loosely over the pie after its baked thirty minutes then give the crust another fifteen minutes to finish crisping up. The filling will probably grab onto the foil but don’t worry about that. Better to have crisp pastry and a slightly messy looking filling than a gummy pie crust.

SUGAR PIE

1-10 inch single pie crust
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup maple syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 egg, well beaten
1 tablespoon flour
¼ cup butter, melted

THE STEPS:

  • Preheat the oven to 400* F.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the baking soda, vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, egg, flour and melted butter – whisk well.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared pie shell.
  • Place pie plate on a large baking sheet to catch any spill-over.
  • Bake on the bottom rack in your oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  • At 30 minutes, loosely lay a piece of aluminium foil over the top of the pie.
  • Continue baking another 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven to a cooling rack for 30 minutes before serving.

THE LOVE: Make sure that your pie crust is completely cooked through!

sugar pie -  a stunning combination of sweet, silk and crisp - bitebymichelle.com

Thanks for reading.

photography by michelle

sugar pie - a stunning combination of sweet and silk
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AUTHOR:
Yield: 1-10" pie
INGREDIENTS
  • 1-9 inch single pie crust
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
THE STEPS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400* F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the baking soda, vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, egg, flour and melted butter - whisk well.
  3. Pour the mixture into your prepared pie shell.
  4. Place pie plate on a large baking sheet to catch any spill-over.
  5. Bake on the bottom rack in your oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  6. At 30 minutes, loosely lay a piece of aluminium foil over the top of the pie.
  7. Continue baking another 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven to a cooling rack for 30 minutes before serving.
THE LOVE:
Make sure that your pie crust is completely cooked through.

 

  • Linda

    Wow this was a challenge. Your system rejected both my facebook and twitter log in info. Now it wants me to set up a Disquis account which I also already have. Just a note on that to let you know what seems to be going on 🙂

    Anyway I love this pie recipe. You know when you can tell something is actually going to be GREAT before you even try it?
    Well this struck me that way.

    On my agenda to try this after making my first stab at Camembert Cheese tomorrow 🙂

    Thank you … I love your blog and keep an eye on it every once in a while.

    I have a truly dynamite cake from here too … looks like the one pictured in the sidebar of your blog. I did change it a bit just for me … the family loved it the way you posted it though. I always try the original first.

    Anyway thank you again GREAT JOB!

    Linda

    • Hi Linda, thanks so much for letting me know how difficult it was to respond. I keep trying to simplify the process but it continues not to work smoothly. Its incredibly frustrating. On a happy note delighted that your family enjoyed the cake. You’re like me with respect to trying the original recipe then tweaking it. That’s the fun of cooking! Hope you try the pie – its off the charts!

  • Hey Matt, so pleased that my recipes are finding their way to your table! Good to know about Disquis…

    Hope you had a wonderful Easter now bring on Spring!