Just 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.”
Grandma Bertie’s Fresh Cranberry Orange Pie (1940s)
Makes 1 9-inch pie
1/2 cup water
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
- In a saucepan, combine the water, salt, and tapioca. Bring to a quick boil.
- Add the cranberries and sugar. Cook until the berries pop.
- Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, and butter. Remove from the heat.
- 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.
- Spoon the cooled mixture into the pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.
- Garnish with orange segments and serve cold, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.