Happy New Year! Can I just start with a thank you? Thank you all for being part of this space in 2016. For bringing my recipes to your tables to feed your hungers and your loved ones, for all the comments and encouragement, and for your kindness and community in pinning and sharing my blog posts. I’m so humbled by this little space and so grateful for your listening ears and I can’t wait to come together over lots more good food in 2017. Wishing happiness and good health to you and your families for the new year, and sending virtual waves of so much love to you all. MUAH!
We just arrived back in Vancouver. I didn’t mean to take a blog break over the holidays, but I think I needed to just unplug and unwind (I actually just typed un-wined which would have also been pretty accurate). I packed my camera and didn’t even take it out of my suitcase.
It was so nice to be at my mom’s in New Brunswick for the holidays. I hadn’t been home for Christmas in four years. It was heartwarming and soul-healing to just hang out in my jammies with my own little family plus my mama and step-dad, sister and brother-in-law and my special Aunt Joan. There’s nothing like being surrounded by comfort and familiarity in a loud, bustling home and have someone cook you a turkey dinner.
Our flight left at 5 am yesterday from the Atlantic coast, which means our travel day with the babies started at 3:45 am (which is only 11:45 pm Vancouver time) and continued for 10 hours. It’s basically a red-eye flight. So know what I did for NYE? Went to bed at 8:15 and slept until 7:30 this morning. I have no regrets.
I’m sorry that my first blog post of January is a delicious pie instead of a kale smoothie or something. Wait. No, not really sorry.
See, when I took my first bite of this pie, my eyes actually rolled back in my head. It tasted indescribably like the tart I’d had in my friend Aude’s grandmother’s kitchen in Belgium. Her bonne maman was an excellent cook, and I took meticulous notes from her as she dictated recipes for incredible breads, waffles, etc.
This belgian specialty, translated to English as sugar pie, has a yeast-dough crust. A buttery, eggy base that tastes almost exactly like a true Belgian waffle. I can close my eyes smell the sweet, yeasty steam of dough and caramelized sugar wafting from carts on the streets in Liège.
The filling is part custard, part gooey butter tart. Brown sugar melts beneath an egg-and-cream topping that sputters and caramelizes under the oven’s heat. It’s magical. Wonderful. Everything I love about baking.
I made a belgo-canadian hybrid, replacing half of the brown sugar in the traditional tarte au sucre recipe with maple syrup. Heavenly. Maple syrup has a more caramelly, toasty flavour and adds even more depth to something that was already pretty perfect.
And guys, the base. So easy. If you’re afraid of traditional pie crusts, forget it and just make this instead. It uses yeast, but only requires a quick 30 minute rest rather than hours of proofing. And a stand mixer easily handles the manual labour. So yummy and totally qualifies pie as breakfast food (in case you were ever on the fence about it).
Happy new year one more time and last thing – photo nerds, these photos were shot with artificial light. I’m still working out the finer details, but I’ll be resuscitating the Photo Fridays series this month and sharing my learning as I go. xo
Maple Yeasted Sugar Pie (Belgian Tarte au Sucre)
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 1/2 cups 6.75 oz all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup melted slightly-cooled butter (no hotter than 115ºF)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- Heat milk and granulated sugar to about 110ºF (about 20 seconds in microwave on high). Pour into bowl of standing mixer and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand several minutes until yeast is frothy. Add flour and salt; beat to combine. Beat in egg and melted butter. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for a few minutes, then return dough to ball and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter a 9"x2" pie dish, then press dough into the bottom and up the sides. Prick crust several times with a fork. Sprinkle bottom evenly with the brown sugar.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining filling ingredients. Pour over crust and bake 25-30 minutes, until filling is set and browning. Cover crust with foil or a pie protector if it is getting dark. Cool pie at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before serving. May be served warm or room temperature, with whipped cream if desired.