I’m still thinking about picnics and camping, and it just occurred to me that raisin pie would be a good picnic dessert.
Move over, ancestors, Ken’s ancestors are joining us in the kitchen. In reading a family history of my husband Kenneth Ross Badertscher’s family, I came across an interesting clue to the popularity of raisin pie among Swiss Mennonite immigrants.
Ken’s grandmother Ida Badertscher’s father, Abraham Amstutz emigrated from the Jura Mountains of Switzerland in May 1871. He married “Lizzie” Steiner in Sonnenberg in Wayne County, Ohio in 1874. Ida was born the next year.
Ida had four great uncles. One of those uncles, Ben Amstutz, who had also come from Switzerland with their parents, was a cheese maker of some renown. His farm became known as “Benville.” When Ben’s youngest daughter, Elma married Reuben Hofstetter in 1913, the details of the celebration were featured in the Dalton (Ohio) Gazette.
About 100 guests were invited to the dinner at the bride’s home in Benville and about the same number, the younger ones, for supper. Anyone who has ever been present at that place in any kind of gatherings will know that something was doing this time.
50 raisin pies besides other kinds were baked and cake–well not quite as plenty as the silver at the building of Solomon’s temple, but a plenty. Tropical fruits a oranges, bananas, California grapes, etc., in profusion. The happy couple were the recipients of so many presents that two beds were completely covered.
I was delighted to find this reference to raisin pie, as one of Ken’s mothers, Gertrude Badertscher (married to his uncle Monroe) gave me a recipe for raisin pie when Ken and I attended a Badertscher reunion shortly after we were married in the early 1960’s.
Gertie is also the source of the Badertscher banana bread recipe that Kay Badertscher wrote about earlier. But what is most exciting about this recipe is that it goes back to Ken’s grandmother–and probably to Switzerland where fresh fruit would have been hard to come by in the winter time. Since Ida was a cousin of the bride in the storie above, she might have baked a couple of those pies. Gertie wrote the recipe out for me and said:
I have found a few recipes for raisin pie, but not many, which prompted me to ask on Facebook if people grew up with raisin pie, in order to see if it had a single origin or was a regional thing. Obviously (50 pies at a wedding) it was popular among Swiss Mennonite immigrants in northern Ohio. Most replies indicated it is generally a mid-western thing, and generally in regions with Germanic roots.
One person mentioned that their mother made the pie with meringue, and sure enough, I found a recipe for raisin pie with meringue in Joy of Cooking. Another person had a recipe that is made with sour cream. Sounds delicious, and although I can find it on the Internet, the cookbooks I own didn’t have that variety. Nor did any of them have the version of Ida Badertscher–half nuts and half raisins in a pie very similar to pecan pie–without the corn syrup.
The basic traditional raisin pie seems to be this recipe from Sun Maid raisins. Many of the recipes I’ve come across call for cooking the ingredients, before putting into a pre-baked pie shell, which Ida’ does not. Those that are all raisins (most) have two crusts, but I think 2 crusts would be overkill since the nuts rise to the top and make a nice crunchy surface to Ida’s pie.
Of course I never make this raisin nut pie without thinking of Gertie Badertscher and her handsome square red brick house with its huge grassy lawn at the far end of Main Street in Killbuck. And I also wonder what Ida Amstutz Badertscher would think of her pie still being baked in a 21st century kitchen.
So please join the conversation and tell us–did you grow up with raisin pie? Where from?