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Perfect for Crunch Time: Pilgrim Pie-Oh My!

What's for Dessert? A family tradition from our table to yours, try this decadent pie at your Thanksgiving gathering.

The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving is known in our family as crunch time. Most Thanksgiving Eve’s see my loving husband running out for those last-minute, overlooked-but-imperative ingredients. In a good year, the menu has been pre-determined, and the necessary supplies acquired.

We’re hoping for a good year.

Of course we have saved all of our baking for this special night: “The fresher, the better.” And with so much to do in such little time, the oven is working overtime. 

Part of the fun of the holidays is keeping up treasured family traditions. Back in the day, my dad’s contribution to the Thanksgiving Day-Fest was his favorite dessert, an old family recipe: Pilgrim Pie. This delicious two-crust pie is packed with fruits and nuts, bubbling over with the scent of sweet cinnamon and spicy cloves.

Dad made a game (the higher, the better!) of piling up the apples, cranberries, two types of raisins and walnuts, creating a pie-dome of tangy sweetness; always two pies - one for the road, and one for later.

Years ago, the Pilgrim Pie torch was passed to me, albeit without the original recipe which was lost long ago. While I can never get my pie stacked as high as his, I was able to capture the flavors. By adapting a Betty Crocker Apple Pie recipe combined with dad’s recollections, I make my own version of Pilgrim Pie every season so our family can enjoy this family-food tradition for many years to come. I hope you and yours enjoy this special pie as much as we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Ingredients:

4 granny smith apples, peeled sliced
4 cortland apples, peeled, sliced
1 c. fresh cranberries
½   c. golden raisins
½   c. raisins
½ c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
pinch of salt
1 c. sugar
⅓ c. flour
2 T. butter
⅛ c. milk (for crust)

Store bought crust for two 10” pie, (or see recipe for crust below*)

To Prepare:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pastry as directed*; Place crust in pie plate, pressing bottom and sides to plate. Trim overhanging edge of pastry ½ inch from rim of plate.

Mix sugar, flour and spices together in a large mixing bowl. Fold in apples, raisins, cranberries and walnuts. Turn filling into pastry-lined pie plate.

Dot with butter. Cover with second half of rolled out crust. Press edges to seal, use a fork to seal crusts together, or pinch with fingers to form fluted edge. Cut slits in top of pie crust to allow steam to escape. Brush top of crust with milk.

Bake 1 hour, until crust is browned and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Serve slightly warm.

Standard pastry for two crust 10” pie
1 c. shortening
2 ⅔ c. flour
1 tsp. salt
7 to 8 T. cold water

To make crust:

Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl. Divide in half, and gather each half into a ball. Shape into two flattened rounds on lightly floured, cloth covered pastry board.

Roll pastry 2 inches larger than inverted pie plate with cloth covered rolling pin. Fold pastry into fourths; unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
(Recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, New and Revised 1987)

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