National Pie Day: The history of Indiana's unofficial state pie

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's National Pie Day on Jan. 23 and, yes, Indiana has a state pie to celebrate.

The Sugar Cream Pie, also known as the Hoosier Pie, is a treat that has been around in the state since the 1800s, but was only named the unofficial pie of Indiana in 2009 after the Indiana Senate adopted a special, nonbinding resolution.

The pie originated in eastern Indiana's Shaker communities, but is often attributed to the northeastern Amish communities, according to historic Indianapolis.

The oldest recipe on record is in The Hoosier Cookbook, dated back 160 years and attributed to Kenneth D. Hahn of Miami County. 

Many Hoosiers became aware of sugar cream pie during the Great Depression when supplies were tight. The pie, similar to custard pie, is the best seller of the decades-old Wick's Pies company in Winchester and is sold in 25 states. Each year, Wick's produces about 12 million pie shells and pies.

If you can't get enough of the Hoosier Pie, there are a couple Indiana Pie Trails you can take, stopping by 21 Indiana cafes, kitchens and bakeries for the best local pies, including sugar cream. The trail, on Indiana Foodways Alliance, takes you through Danville, Plainfield, Tell City, Columbus, Winchester, Anderson, Pendleton, Peru and others.

The pie is made of six ingredients that are often found in a pantry, and with no eggs needed and just a bit of butter and cream from a cow, it was a simple dessert for rural communities. 

Here's a common recipe from the Food Network:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1 pie crust, unbaked 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients with a hand mixer or Kitchen-Aid. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Pour mixture into pie crust and place in the oven. Bake until crust is golden brown, then bake an additional 12 minutes or so while the filling sets. Keep a close eye on it, as every oven is different. 

A few historical recipe variations call for the mixture of ingredients in the pie shell with one finger. The reason for this is to prevent whipping the heavy cream. This is one of the reasons the pie is also sometimes called the Finger Pie. Other recipe variations call for a finder mix in the middle of the bake, but that could be achieved using a utensil so as to avoid any burns.

Store any extra slices in the fridge!

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