Sugar cream pie is southern-sweet

My quest to replicate a recipe for Sugar Cream Pie started with a story my friend told me about the pie his grandmother used to make when he was a child.

“Belly Ache Pie” is what the grandchildren called it, because when she took the steaming hot pies out of the oven, they would place the pie in a bowl and pour cold milk over it. Then, they would eat it until their belly ached.

My friend said he would finish his pie no matter how much it hurt afterward, thus dubbing his favorite dessert “Belly Ache Pie.”

His grandmother made the pie so often, she never had to consult a recipe, always creating the southern treat straight from memory. The problem: She never wrote it down, and her secret passed with her.

Once I heard his story, I began my quest to duplicate the treat from his childhood. In my search, I found many recipes for Sugar Cream Pie – some called for cornstarch, while others utilized egg and brown sugar. Since my friend said his grandmother made it with the simplest ingredients, I chose a recipe comprising mainly household staples: flour, sugar, butter, cream, vanilla and nutmeg.

I’ve never made anything quite like Sugar Cream Pie, and I found stirring the cream and sugar was a bit more challenging than I thought. It’s easy to scorch the concoction if you aren’t careful, and the mixture has to achieve a thickness that will sneak up on you if you aren’t paying attention.

Normally when I make this dessert, I use a recipe for the pie crust that was taken from the kitchen of another friend, what her family calls “Fool-proof Pie Crust.” It really is fool-proof and quite easy to make. However, you can also save a little time and use a premade uncooked pie shell instead.

The recipe calls for whipping cream, but that can be substituted for half-and-half or a mixture of the two. The pie is very rich and sweet, so using half-and-half will actually cut down on some of the richness if you prefer a lighter taste. But either way, it is still a very rich, very southern dessert, and if your palate can’t take southern-style sweet tea, you may not be able to fully appreciate the experience of Sugar Cream Pie.

But if sweet and creamy suits you, then you may find yourself eating it until your belly aches.

When I delivered the fresh pie to my friend, he told me it was pretty close to his grandma’s and then proceeded to eat the whole thing in one sitting. I consider that a victory and concede that no matter how many recipes I try, I may never fully replicate her creation.