Quebec, Madame Benoit, Spring

I have had a secret love affair with Quebec since I was a kid in Mr. Askey’s history class. He was teaching us about Canadian History and we were studying the Seven Years’ War, and of course as we all know (don’t we?) the Battle of Quebec on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 was a pivotal battle in the long war between France and England.  I was a weird and shy thirteen year old, so at the time this was the most romantic and exciting thing that I had ever heard of. From that point on, I a history geek…Now quite a few years later, history continues to be a passion, but I have others as well, obviously food, and I think the two compliment each other. But I also continue to have a passion for Quebec, especially the Eastern Townships and Quebec city. As a province it is just so hip, and European, and interesting, and historic, and is definitely not Southern Ontario farm country where I live. Sadly though, Quebec does not love me back, as I try but fail to speak the language, and, it seems as if I’m always dressed wrong. Yet, I continue to be a fan, which is maybe one of the reasons why I love madame Benoit, very cool and so ahead of her time.

In Southern Ontario where I live, we are now in the in-between season, that some people like to call “spring.” I like to call it “not quite summer,” as it is really warm but still a month away from the actual summer equinox and I continue to drive on my snow tires as, up until two weeks ago, we had a freak snow storm, but never mind, I am justifying my laziness…As it is almost summer,yet still somewhat spring, I’m thinking about rhubarb, strawberries, and Madame Benoit’s sugar pie. I’ve made this pie many times before, always in early spring, and served it with ice cream or whipped cream, but it is very sweet and the cream wasn’t enough to cut the sweetness. However, the rhubarb in garden is close to harvest, and a rhubarb compote, a little on the tart side is what this pie needs. I don’t think that Madame would mind, but I doubt that Quebec will ever forgive me.

Madame Benoit’s Sugar Pie from Complete Heritage of Canadian Cooking, pub.1976

She writes, ” Every summer, requests pour in for this sugary yet creamy pie from people who have travelled in Quebec and have had it in restaurants. The recipe is almost as old as Canada.” (In my used copy of the book, someone has written try, then below it, good!)

Pastry of your choice

1/2 tsp. soda

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2  cups maple syrup

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar

pinch of nutmeg

1/3 cup butter

Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Stir soda and vanilla into syrup and pour into pastry. Blend remaining ingredients with your fingertips until mixture is crumbly, then spread over syrup. Place a piece of foil under pan, because the pie often bubbles over. Bake at 350 F. for 30 minutes and let cool-it is best served cold.

One thought on “Quebec, Madame Benoit, Spring

  1. Thank you for this delicious recipe that has seemingly transported me back in time to when I was a young courier de bois! Jen Barksdale


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