Cranberries in a pie crust

Cranberry pie doneJust in time for Thanksgiving, my neighbor organized a pie swap. Each of us baked a pie, then sliced it up and shared a sample with the other participants. For ideas, I looked through handwritten recipes from my grandmother and baker extraordinaire, Bertie. At first all I could find was a cheese pie, which specified using “Swiss cheese from Switzerland” – perhaps an exotic ingredient in the 1930s and 1940s, when she collected most of the recipes. A more careful look yielded the far more seasonal Fresh Cranberry Orange Pie.

Maybe there’s a reason why I don’t remember her making the cranberry pie for me. By the time I made the crust, wrestled it into the pie plate, baked it, let it cool, assembled the filling, and let that cool, it was almost time for the swap! So much for chilling the pie beforehand.

I was one of six bakers at the swap. Two people brought savory offerings, a mushroom quiche and a blue cheese and pear tart. Then I munched my way through pumpkin, bumbleberry (three kinds of berries), and turtle (chocolate and caramel). The group favorites? Bumbleberry and turtle. Sorry, Grandma. Your filling tasted like cranberry relish – perfect for a side dish but not well served by the crust. That’s OK. You’d copy the recipe again, omit the crust, and file it under “relish.”

CranberriesGrandma Bertie’s Fresh Cranberry Orange Pie (1940s)
Makes 1 9-inch pie

1/2 cup water
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
4 cups fresh cranberries (about 16 ounces)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons butter
2 oranges, quartered and seeded [I used 1 1/2 Navel oranges, including the skin]
1 (9 or 10 inch) baked pie shell
Orange segments, for garnish

  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, salt, and tapioca. Bring to a quick boil.
  2. Add the cranberries and sugar. Cook until the berries pop.
  3. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, and butter. Remove from the heat.
  4. Put the oranges through a food grinder [I used a food processor and pulsed until well chopped but not liquidated] and add to the cranberry mixture. Stir and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  5. Spoon the cooled mixture into the pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.
  6. Garnish with orange segments and serve cold, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers. Somehow I ended up with a cooking gene that I brought with me from Richmond, Virginia to my current home in Boston, Massachusetts. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir and a novel. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and other American recipes with a past.
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2 Responses to Cranberries in a pie crust

  1. Sheryl says:

    The pie looks beautiful – even if the filling didn’t quite work as a pie. I really like the cranberry & orange combination.


  2. This is perfect for the holidays! Love this! Following your blog for more great recipes 🙂 I made some delicious apple pockets which are a great treat for Thanksgiving, so I recommend checking these out!


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