Why Hello there! Or should I say…crap. I’ve forgotten- BONJOUR. That’s the word. Nearly lost it there. Whew. Jesus. That’s French 101. Shit, Why am I writing all this down? Anyway, Bonjour! And welcome back to Kitchen Catastrophe, the Blog least likely to influence this or any election season. Today, we’re talking about Tarte a Sucre Brun, also known as Brown Sugar Pie. If all you need is the recipe to get your sugar hit, head HERE.. Otherwise, join me on a magical adventure*!
(*- Magic not provided by author. I’ve already gotten too many convictions for witchcraft. I don’t need any more hassle from Johnny Law)
Bred of an Airy word
Straight to classical literature references. Good lead. First, allow me to pull back a bit of the curtain for you, the viewer at home, to see how the sausage of comedy blogs is ground: as I am an Improv comedian more then a writer, the majority of what I do for these notes is only “planned” in the loosest of definitions. Typically, some random thought will cross my mind around Sunday, and I’ll look up recipes for it Monday, go grocery shopping Tuesday, cook it Wednesday, and write it up Friday. This schedule shifts around sometimes, most commonly by front- or back-loading.
Some of the thoughts are things like “I wonder why no one makes Red Pepper Bread. I see Rosemary bread, Oregano Bread, but no Red Pepper bread. Do the oils do something?” Sometimes it’s more “Oh, look at this old Pie plate. I should make this recipe.” Today’s recipe comes from the following thought “I wonder if making things that have more connection to me would make them easier to write about. Probably, but how would I keep them innovative?” As such, I made a recipe today with the sole intent of perverting it to more closely resemble my childhood.
Sugar, Cream, and Nothing Obscene
When I was a lad, I ate four dozen eg-No, wait, that’s not what I’m doing. All over the place today, sorry. Anywho: When I was a young wartho- you know what? Strawberries.
Some days I view this job as an excuse for my true passion: Food photography. Second only to my true passions of Dramaturgy, Roleplaying games, Eating…Look, I’m a passionate guy, no matter what my ex-girlfriends say.
Strawberries are one of the quintessential tastes of summer, originally bearing fruit in June. They’re workhorses of the fruit world: sugary, tart, practically EVERYTHING. They’re healthy and sweet, and remind us of long summer days, where the warmth of the sun reached down to our bones, bringing up echoes of laughing children playing by a lakeside, a joyous time untouched by fear or shame… And I’ve wander off point again. So strawberries are great. And when I was a kid, one of the favorite ways for my family to eat them was as simple as it is sugar-based: with sour cream and brown sugar. The pitch is simple: Take strawberry, dip in sour cream, roll in/dip into/sprinkle with brown sugar. That’s it. The molasses notes of the sugar were darkly sweet to the berry’s brightness, the cream…creamy. (Look, no one bats a thousand.) But that was one of the preferred desserts in the O’Guin home: easy and delicious.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. If it took you a thousand words to explain the steps in this picture, you’re remarkably bad at explanations.
I liked this recipe so well, I tried another one based solely on the visual similarities: Radishes with butter and sea salt. And you know what? That recipe was okay; Not groundbreaking by any means, but enjoyable. So recently, I was sitting at a bar drinking, and I thought “Do brown sugar pies exist?” Like, I know of Molasses Pies, Treacle Tarts, Peanut Butter Pies, Pecan pie is basically “Corn Syrup and Nuts”, so logically, Brown Sugar Pie has to exist. And if it exists, I bet I could put Sour Cream and Strawberries on it.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I recently discovered that not only has someone else had this idea, they made it into its own complete dish, Strawberry, Sour Cream, and Brown Sugar Pie. (Hyperlink to: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/201457/strawberry-brown-sugar-sour-cream-pie/) I… did not do that. So THANKS, JERNER, FOR MAKING ME LOOK DUMB)
I’d Reference the Rolling Stones Song, if I Knew the Words
Brown Sugar Pie has a complicated history. I spent three hours researching it, and here’s the best I could say for certain: It’s a pie. Assuming we rely on less credible sources, it appears to have its origin in Belgium and Northern France, and it came to America from Canada, seeping down from Quebec into Indiana and the Midwest. Except it also came over from North Carolina with the Quakers. Or from Pennsylvania from the Amish. The main issue is that Brown Sugar Pie is just a specific variation of Sugar Pie, or Sugar Cream Pie. And there’s something like three different pathways that took, with differing ingredients and results: the picture of Sugar Cream Pie I saw is white as snow. I have no idea what color the versions that use Maple Syrup turn, but I assume they vote for Bernie Sanders. Here’s how mine turned out.
Sugar Sugar how’d you get so fly? Sugar Sugar how’d you get so fly? Sorry, 90’s kicked in
My preliminary research suggested that BROWN Sugar Pie is more of a Canadian thing, with the recipe I used having a lot of comments of Canadians saying it tasted like their childhood. My understanding of Canadian cuisine is mostly limited to the heart-stopping beauty that is Poutine (gravy poured over cheese curds and French fries), and the fact that they make candy for children by pouring maple syrup onto snow, and using the cold to form a sort of maple-taffy. Truly an industrious and whimsically ridiculous people.
Easy As Pie
When it comes to the actual process of making this pie, I was initially afraid. It’s only three steps long, and so incredibly simple. Where was the material? How could I mine a whole blog post? Luckily, life intervened, and made things easy on me.
See, here’s the thing about that phrase, “easy as pie”. A lot of people forget that we say that because we got lazy. The original phrase was “easy as EATING pie”. Because, if you’ve ever had to make a pie, you know that it’s not very easy at all. And the root, the core of the issue, is the crust. I have never in my life met a pie crust that did not, at SOME juncture, act like a total asshole. Pie Crusts are the hung-over short-line cooks of the culinary world: They’ll get the job done, but it won’t be pretty, and there will be more cursing than strictly necessary.
For this pie, the crust portion was supposed to be easy: Just put pre-made pie crusts in the pie plates. That’s it. We took them out of the freezer a few days ahead to thaw in the fridge, and then took them out for ten minutes or so, and went to work. By which I mean my mother yelled at me as I tried to go to work, and everything went to shit.
Hello darkness, my old friend
.... I am in a musical mood today.
I couldn’t unroll the damn crust out of the tube it comes packaged as without tearing the edges. My mother insisted the solution was to put it between wax paper and roll it smooth. Her following instructions were like trying to explain Origami with no visual aids through a language barrier. I was to fold the pie into quarters, flip it, then pull the bottдного языка никогда недоfстаточно; a series of instructions I could not process into rational action. (Where was I to hold it during this? Why would I fold it downward, then flip it so the bowl is the opposite direction? How many hands does she think I have that I can hold a loose arrangement of dough in defiance of gravity, AND pull away a sheet of wax paper currently tightly adhering to it?) I was relieved when her husband of thirty some odd years looked blankly at her, then to me, and confided he had no idea what she meant. At least I wasn’t alone in my loss.
And if you think the crust is hard, let me tell you about the filling!
You just mix it all up, and cook it for like, 10 minutes.
It looks like hot chocolate! It tastes like raw milk! Don’t drink this! It’s really goddamn hot!
Yeah, the filling’s actually easy as…pppiiiieeeee (shudder) to make. After it’s cooked up, it gets dumped in the painstakingly worked out crusts, and baked for about 30 minutes. Then you’ve got pie! As far as flavor goes, it’s alright. It comes across mostly as a sort of…raw caramel. Like, it’s not fully formed yet, and there’s a sort of void to the sweetness, that you identify as “Oh, this is…almost caramel…” Canadian Childhood must taste like an aching void, almost on the edge of recognition. Is that mean? It felt mean. I’m sorry, Canada.
BUT, how does it fare with the addition of Sour Cream and Strawberries? That’s the question we really came to answer, isn’t it? The Answer: better, but not quite right either. Because the brown sugar has become more caramel-like, the sour cream isn’t adding as much as it was in the raw stage. The pie has some creaminess from the milk, so the sour cream just feels like…a topping. Weirdly, it didn’t throw the flavors off or anything, it just felt like it wasn’t adding enough. I once mixed equal parts milk and Coca-cola, and the resulting drink didn’t taste like ANYTHING. It had texture, and substance, but it was disturbingly neutral, like drinking thick water. That’s what the sour cream reminded me of: it added a bit of textural difference, but it was a ghost of taste. The strawberry remained a nice counterpoint, with its sharp sweetness at least slightly cutting the richness of the pie.
Thank god my true passion isn’t food decorating. Though I honestly enjoyed decorating cakes, when I briefly worked in a baker; I wrote “Fuck” on a cake for one set of cheerful college girls once, against store policy.
Overall, I thought the whole thing was fine. We actually made two pies, so I could conceivably make one normal one, and one fully topped with Sour Cream and Strawberries, but I ended up just topping slices with them, and we ate one of the pies. The other, we just never felt the urge to finish. So, It’s nice for a night or two, but it’s not something to make every weekend.
As always, come back next time to read more, tell your friends, connect with us in social media, whether by Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our email list to receive a specially prepared post just for you!
NEXT TIME: THE MEAL THAT HAS NO NAME. OR RECIPE. AND ALAN ACTUALLY APPEARS AS AN ACTOR AND AN AUTHORITY. THAT SENTENCE ONLY STARTED WITH A’S. NEAT.
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 c packed brown sugar
1 ½ c evaporated milk
4 tbsp butter
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Prepared pie crust
1. Lay the prepared Pie crust in the shell. Preheat oven to 400
2. Mix the flour and brown sugar in a sauce pan. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils. Pour into pie shell.
3. Bake at 400 for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350, and bake for 25. Let cool before serving.