Monday, August 22, 2011

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

I wanted to make a pie for a friend, as a thank-you gift. She mentioned a few months back that she loved sour cream raisin pie. I had never made one before, and the combination honestly sounded a bit bizarre. But, wanting to make something I knew she liked, I looked into it, and actually was struck by how good the pie sounded. I was even more struck at how good it was, after I made one! It's a nice, creamy, custardy pie studded with decadent, boozy raisins. Maybe this recipe will change your mind, too.

The first thing I did was soak some raisins. I wanted them to be as plump and juicy as possible. Usually I try to skip steps that require them to be left overnight (unless it's marinating meat), but since I had to go out and buy raisins especially for this recipe anyway, it didn't really put me out.

I soaked a cup of raisins overnight in a mixture of water and butterscotch schnapps. I initially wanted to soak them in brandy, but we didn't have brandy.

If you don't have time to soak your raisins, you could skip this step. Or you could put them in a pot and cover them with your soaking liquid, bring the liquid and raisins to a boil, and then allow them to cool a bit.

Nothing says delicious like some juicy, plumped-up raisins smelling of schnapps.

I used a premade pie shell. Partially because I'm a little too lazy to make my own crusts. And partly because I didn't want my friend to feel responsible for bringing me back a pie tin.

The shell got a quick prebake. It was poked all over with a fork. This will hopefully prevent the shell from puffing up. It will also help the crust to not be soggy.

The shell went into a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.

Next, you'll want to grab 3 eggs. Separate the whites from the yolks, being very, very careful not to get any yolk with the white.

You'll be using the whites later to make a meringue. And they won't whip if there's any yolk present.

To prevent any yolk contamination, I crack the egg into a small dish first. That way, if the yolk breaks (or there's any egg shell bits), I can pick them out or discard that egg to use for something else. It's really important that there's only egg white in the egg whites.

I put the egg whites in the fridge for later.

A small container of sour cream goes into the bowl with the egg yolks.

I stirred them together.

Then I poured in the sugar.

If anyone has noticed, my sugar is a bit brown. That's because it's evaporated cane sugar. White sugar would be perfectly okay too.

A tablespoon of flour will add just a little stability to the pie.

Just a little cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg will spice up the pie.

Butterscotch schnapps and pie spices? Feels a bit like Christmas!

I almost forgot to add the vanilla.

I always almost forget to add the vanilla. I need a huge sign in my kitchen that says VANILLA.

But then I'd probably still almost forget.

After you've remembered the vanilla, you can add your raisins. Don't forget to drain them!

Look how fat and juicy they look.

Pour the filling into the pie shell. I placed the pie shell on a cookie sheet as well; those cheap tin pie plates aren't usually very sturdy.

Then pop the pie in the oven. It'll take about 40-50 minutes.

With about 20 minutes left on the clock, you can start your meringue. You want to make sure the meringue is ready to go when the pie is done; it's important that the meringue be spread onto a hot pie.

Pour the egg whites into a large bowl.

It's very important that your bowl and beaters are very clean. A tiny bit of grease, and your whites won't whip properly.

A little sugar will sweeten it nicely.

If you're especially worried about making meringue, a tiny bit of cream of tartar will ensure that your whites whip and stay whipped. I didn't add any, but I know some people feel better when they do add it. 

Now grab your beaters and start beating!

After a few minutes, your egg whites will start to look foamy.

A few more minutes and they'll start to look smooth and shiny.

When they start to get thick and the imprints from the beaters don't disappear, that means it's about there!

You want nice, stiff peaks. The whites should hold their shape when you remove the beaters.

A little vanilla will give the meringue a little more flavor.

By this time, the pie should be ready to come out of the oven. You want to make sure that the filling is completely set.

Immediately spread the meringue over the top of the pie.

Wow, this picture came out blurry. But you get the idea, right?

Be sure to spread the meringue all the way to the edges of the pie. If the meringue isn't touching the pie crust, it could shrink. You want to form a seal all the way around.

Use a knife to make little peaks all over the meringue. The peaks will get golden brown in the oven and make your pie look pretty.
Before going in the oven.


Give this often-neglected pie a chance. Once you've tasted the creamy custard, the schnapps-spiked raisins, and the sweet-but-soft meringue, you'll be completely sold.

Recipe: Sour Cream Raisin Pie

1 c. raisins
2-3 c. liquid (water and/or any other liquids you might want to soak your raisins in)

1 premade pie shell

3 eggs, separated
1 c. (1 small container) sour cream
2/3 c. sugar
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
5 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Soak raisins overnight in water or other soaking liquid. Drain before use.

Prick pie shell all over the bottom and the sides with a fork. If using a frozen crust, allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before pricking. Blind bake the shell in a 350F oven for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, flour, spices, and vanilla. Mix well. Add raisins.

Pour pie filling into crust. Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, until filling is set.

With about 20 minutes left on the pie, pour egg whites into a large bowl. Add 5 tbsp. sugar. Beat well until the whites form stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla.

Remove pie from oven and immediately spread meringue over the top. Take care to spread meringue all the way to the edges of the pie to create a seal.

Use a knife to make small peaks all over the meringue. Bake for another 10 minutes until meringue is golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.

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