Tarte Au Sucre

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One of my life’s little pleasures is cookbooks. Discovering a new cookbook, browsing old ones, making new recipes, dreaming about the recipes I’ll bake one day…  In my humble opinion Great-Britain is second to none in making the best cookbooks. If I had my little way, I could buy a new one every day. Really.

But a bad cookbook can be a miserable, frustrating affair. A French cookbook that shall not be named (and eventually donated to Oxfam bookshop) was filled with mistakes. Same recipe under two different headings, no instruction as to when to add certain ingredients… My birthday cake was well in the oven when Mr. J. noticed and remembered the whisked egg whites on the counter, no mention in the recipe when it needed to be added.

My mom gave me this old Belgian baking book she bought in the 80’s. And this one takes the cookie on being frustrating.

It holds all (I really mean all, *gestures wide open arms*) the bakes we know, love and treasure in Belgium, and which we want to share through this blog. First and foremost amongst those: the Sugar Pie.

But the book is simply rubbish.

Some of the recipes are explained as if you were already a master baker. Some of the instructions are wrong (baking a pie at 240 for 30min) or unclear, some ingredients are mentioned in the instructions but not in the ingredients summary (how much yeast, please?), and most bakes have measurements/quantities intended for industrial bakeries.

Anyways we are keeping the book and letting it be our inspiration to do some Belgian bakes, hoping that with some trial and error, internet and family advice we will finally nail the recipes.

Sugar Pie is a specialty of Mr. J’s native city, but apparently also common in northern France,  Quebec and Indiana.  As the recipe indicates, the filling is made with sugar. Lots of it. And a bit of cream and egg. This simple mixture caramelizes in the oven to a creamy delightful filling. Sound over-rich, however it’s really not. Just more-ish!

It has been a long trial and error to bring you this sugar pie. I have looked online for recipes to supplement the unclear instructions of the “Belgian cookbook from hell”. I have asked in vain Belgian friends and family to share their recipe. But no one has been able to give me clear indications or measurements.  It’s like some kind of conspiracy!

But anyways here it is. After 4 trials!

A little side note on the pie dough. Its called brisee-levee, roughly translated to risen and short dough. Unfortunately the recipe makes 2 large pies. But it’s quite a forgiving  dough and can be frozen. I’ve made the dough two following ways with the same result. One: make the evening before and put in the fridge overnight. Take it a couple hours out of the fridge before you need it. Two : make it the same day, leave it to rise for at least 2 hours.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 400gr. of flour
  • 5gr. of salt
  • 15gr. dried active yeast
  • 100ml of milk
  • 112gr of butter melted
  • 20gr. of sugar
  • 1 egg whisked

Filling:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150ml double cream
  • 250gr.brown sugar + 1 tbsp

Making the dough.

  1. Warm the milk and sugar in a saucepan until just warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside.
  2. Mix the flour with the salt. Make a little well in the middle.
  3. Add the cooled melted butter and egg.
  4. Add the disolved yeast mix and mix all together by hand until the dough comes together. Don’t overwork the dough as it will become tough.
  5. Leave to rise for 2-3 hours at room temperature or set overnight in the fridge.

Making the pie.

  1. Warm the oven on 200°C
  2. Cut the dough in half and freeze or keep one half for later.
  3. Roll out the dough and put in a pie dish. No need to butter as the dough is quite greasy already.
  4. Cut the excess dough of the top of the dish and set aside.
  5. Put the sugar in the pie and spread out evenly.
  6. Whisk the double cream with the egg yolks. Gently pour it evenly over the sugar, keeping 25ml for later.
  7. Roll out the excess dough as thin as possible. It should be see-through-thin and large enough to cover the pie.
  8. Cover the pie with this fine sheet of dough, crimping the sides. Prick holes across the top.
  9. Pour the rest of the cream on top of the dough and use a brush to spread the mix all over.
  10. Sprinkle one tablespoon of brown sugar over the pie.
  11. But in the oven for 20min. The pie should be golden brown when done.

Enjoy!

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