Sour Cream Raisin Pie


Right before my 10th grade school year, our family moved from New York to Utah. At that time I don’t think I could have located Utah on a map, although geography has never been one of my strengths.

Salt Lake City was quite different to me, in so many ways. Regarding the food scene, well, there was none. Not that I was a modern foodie in 1970, but my mother certainly was.

There was no Chinatown, no German deli, not even a cheese shop. In fact, Salt Lake City remained in the culinary dead zone for a long time, until nearby ski resorts like Park City, where we lived, became popular to the world.

After graduating high school, I moved west for college, but when I went home for visits, there was one restaurant that my mother and I would lunch at when we shopped in Salt Lake City – it was our only choice – Marie Callender’s.

Because of having been raised and fed by my mother, who was a chef in her own right, I wasn’t a burger and sandwich eater. But there were a few things on the Marie Callender’s menu that I liked, especially the wilted bacon salad. Plus I always had sour cream raisin pie for dessert.

I remember it well – the creamy filling with the soft raisins and the meringue on top. And even back then I wasn’t much of a dessert eater.

So recently I was shocked to come across a sour cream raisin pie whilst browsing on It’s funny how food-related memories come rushing back.

I decided to go online and check the spelling of Marie Callender for the sake of this post, and discovered that her restaurants are still around. Sadly, neither my wilted bacon salad nor this pie is on their menu anymore.

But there is an interesting story about Marie Callender, who was a real person and a pie baker from California. I never thought about Marie possibly being a real person.

These days, if I were to pass by a Marie Callender’s restaurant, I’d turn my head and give a little chortle. Sorry Ms Callender. It’s just not my type of restaurant. But back in the days when I had no other choice, Ms. Callender satisfied my gastronomic needs.

I’m making this pie in her honor. Below, a young and older Marie Callender.

Here’s a sour cream raisin pie recipe, from

Sour Cream Raisin Pie
printable recipe below

1 cup raisins
Pastry dough
Pie weights
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a bowl soak raisins in water to cover by 2 inches at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Drain raisins in a sieve. I also let them “dry” a bit on paper towels.

On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out dough into a 14-inch round (about 1/8″ thick) and fit into a 9-inch glass pie plate.

Trim dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, and crimp edge decoratively. Chill shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Lightly prick bottom of shell all over with a fork and line shell with foil. Fill foil with pie weights and bake shell in middle of oven for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until golden, about 8 minutes more. Cool shell in pan on a rack.

Reduce temperature to 400 degrees F.

Separate eggs. Chill whites until ready to use.

In a bowl whisk together yolks and sour cream and whisk in 1/2 cup sugar, flour, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and raisins. Pour filling into shell and bake in middle of oven for 10 minutes.d

Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake pie 30-40 minutes more, or until filling is set.

Remove pie from the oven but keep temperature at 350 degrees F.

In another bowl with an electric mixer beat whites until they just hold soft peaks.

Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks.

Spread meringue over warm pie, covering filling completely and making sure meringue touches shell all the way around.

Bake pie in middle of oven until meringue is golden, about 10 minutes. Cool pie on rack and serve at room temperature.

This is absolutely wonderful.

I had a piece of warm pie, but it was a bit too wobbly,

So I let the pie come to room temperature.

It was magnificent, and so much like what I remember. The only negative might be the amount of sugar. If I make this pie again, I would only add 1/2 cup of sugar to the pie filling.

Keep in mind how lovely this pie would be during the holidays, made with dried cranberries!



Hazelnut Cinnamon Pie Crust


When I make a pie crust for even the simplest of pies, I like to change things up. There’s nothing quite so perfect as a pâte brisée, but when you can also add ground nuts of various kinds, and flavorings like rum and cinnamon, the crust pushes the pie over the top!

For Thanksgiving, I only made one pie, since there were only four of us, and that was a pumpkin pie. I did add some rum-soaked raisins to the pie as well. A good pie, as it turned out, although not necessarily better than a traditional pumpkin pie, which we all love. I just wanted to literally spice up the crust.

So, I chose to make a hazelnut-based pie crust. In my tutorial for making pie crusts, I mentioned adding nuts as an option for introducing different flavors as well as textures into a basic pie crust. It’s just so fun and easy.

The only negative in adding ground nuts to a traditional flour-based pie crust is that the dough is more on the crumbly side, and is a tiny bit harder to work with. However, if I can do it, anyone can as well.

So here’s what I did.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Pie Crust

Place the hazelnuts, 1/2 cup of flour and the brown sugar in a food processor jar. Process until the hazelnuts are very fine.
The addition of the flour will keep the nuts from becoming nut butter.

Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and the rum. Then add the shortening and butter and process just a little.

Then, adding icy cold water as needed, continue processing the dough until it balls up.

Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap.

With your hands underneath the plastic wrap, fold over and forcibly pat down on the dough until it sticks together and forms a disk.

Wrap up the disc and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

The next day, get the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit a little bit to warm up slightly. You can alternatively try beating on it with your rolling pin.

Unwrap the disk of dough and place it on a gently floured surface.


Using the same technique as you would a pâte brisée, roll out the dough into a large circle, sprinkling a little flour as needed.


To assist in placing the rolled out crust into the pie pan, use a very wide metal spatula. I would invest in one if you don’t already own one; I’ve used this a lot when a regular spatula just won’t do.

Then carefully place it over the pie pan.

Trim the edges of the crust that overhang, and then crimp the edges carefully.


Place the pie crust in the refrigerator until you fill the pie. At that point, also place the pie pan in a jelly roll pan, or on a cookie sheet. That way you don’t wreck the integrity of the crimped crust grabbing the pie pan with oven mitts.

There will be a future post on the eggnog ice cream I topped the pumpkin pie with that filled this fabulous hazelnut cinnamon crust pie!

Pie Crust Tutorial


Tomorrow my post is a tomato tart, based on a recipe by Giuliano Bugialli. Because my blog is written primarily for people who don’t do a lot of cooking but want to, I thought I’d first go over making a pie crust.

A lot of people would rather purchase pre-made pie crusts than try making one at home. And if you must, that’s okay. But if you try this one pie crust one time, you will see how much better it tastes, how easy it is, and how much less expensive it is as well. And that’s minus whatever preservatives might be in the pre-fab crusts .

I’m going to use a food processor to show how I make pie crust. Even Julia Child, the grand dame of French cooking and old-school chef, began using a food processor in her later years. It might have even been Martha Stewart who showed her how well it worked, without compromising the quality of the dough, during one of her cooking shows.

Nonetheless, if Julia Child can use one, so can I. There are just a few rules that are important. But they are simple rules.

First, have everything on hand. That would include your food processor, flour, cold butter, shortening, a pourable container full of icy water, and a large piece of plastic wrap. Here’s a recipe.

Pie Crust, also called Short Crust Pastry if you want to be fancy…

2 cups white all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cold butter, diced
4 tablespoons shortening*
Pinch of salt
Icy cold water, at least 2 cups just so you have enough

Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto the piece of plastic wrap and set aside.

Then place the flour, the diced butter, shortening and salt in your food processor. The butter is diced so that it will incorporate more easily into the flour. (My pie crust for the tomato pie contains nutmeg, which is why you see it in the photo.)


Pulse the food processor’s blades until the mixture looks like crumbs.


Have the water in one hand, and use your other hand to run the food processor. Start up the food processor on the continuous mode and begin slowly pouring the water into the floury mixture. A slow drizzle will work well. If you over pour the water, you will get globs of wet flour, so it’s best to go slowly if you’re concerned about this. Normally, over processing the dough will create a stiffer dough, which isn’t good, but this can be worked out later when you’re making your pie crust. So just make sure there’s a constant drizzle.

At one point, stop and look at your dough. If you see some parts that look like dough, but other parts are dry and floury, you definitely need to add more water.


Stop when a giant dough has formed within the jar of your food processor. You’ll know when it happens. Keep in mind that when you’ll be working with your pie crust, and if it’s a little too wet, you can always add more flour. However, if the dough is too dry to begin with, there’s no turning back. You can’t add water to dry dough. It doesn’t work

One your giant blog of dough has formed, remove it from the food processor jar and dump it onto your piece of plastic wrap.

Sprinkle a little flour over the blob, and then working with the plastic wrap, place your hands underneath and mold the dough into a firm, flattened disc. No kneading is necessary. Fold the plastic wrap over the disc and refrigerate it for a couple of hours, or overnight.


When you are ready to use the dough for a pie crust, have your pie pan ready, some flour handy, and your rolling pin available.

First, unwrap the disc and place it on your surface, with a little flour sprinkled on top. Try to use as little flour as possible, because believe it or not, the flour can add up and create a dry crust.

Then take your rolling pin and beat the cold dough with it. This will loosen the dough a bit, and allow for better rolling**.

Then start rolling out the pie crust. This recipe will easily make a 9″ or 10″ pie crust, so you should have plenty. Don’t worry if you aren’t making a complete circle – that’s nearly impossible. Roll it out about 1/4″ thick – too thick isn’t good, and too thin will cause tearing. Any tears you do get can be sealed, so don’t worry about those, either.

As you roll, carefully lift the crust and turn it over, so you can thoroughly but lightly dust the crust with flour, if necessary. Every wet spot on the crust can potentially stick to the pie pan, and you don’t want that.

When it is larger than the diameter of your pie pan and the correct thickness, fold the crust over the rolling pin and gently place the dough over the pie pan. Make sure it is centered, and then gradually press down on the bottom of the pie crust. After you do that, work your way around the sides and press the crust into place. If you have long fingernails, use your knuckles.

There are many ways to make a fancy pie crust edging, but I’m going to make mine absolutely plain, because it’s not necessary to be fancy. Simply take your rolling pin and roll it over the top of your pie pan, and all the excess dough flaps will essentially get cut off. There! You now have a pie crust.


As you can see, mine isn’t perfect. I was working too quickly, which I often do for some unknown reason, and the dough tore, but it’s seriously no big deal unless you’re entering a pie competition. The dough will seal as it cooks. But if you are concerned, dip your finger into water and mush the tear together to smooth it out. I’m only talking a drop of water.

The rest is up to your recipe. Sometimes, as with the tomato tart, the crust has to be cooked ahead of time, just like with a quiche. If that is the case, line the pie crust with foil, and then fill up the bottom of the crust with pie weights, or simply beans; these work just as well. Bake the pie according to the recipe. Sometimes the foil and weights are removed, and the crust is cooked more for browning purposes. Often, the pie crust bottom is pierced with fork tines before the browning step, because this technique keeps the pie crust from puffing up. If puffing occurs, and you push down on the puff, then the crust will break and crumble. (Can you tell I’ve done this before?!!!)

If you’re making a pie that requires you to fill it immediately and bake, then make sure you also turned on your oven before you began working with the pie crust.

The best advice I can give with pie crusts, however, is that they be refrigerated after they’re placed in the pie pan. If the crust dough is warmish, then as soon as they’re in the oven, the fat will ooze out of them, and the results will not be pleasant. It will be a soggy mess. Trust me on this, because I was once in a hurry to bake some puff pastry, and didn’t take the time to put it back in the refrigerator for a mere 30 minutes….. I remember this hard lesson learned from many years ago!

Now that you’ve made a pie crust, think of all the fun things that you can add to it – like dried herbs, or white pepper, or cayenne or chili powder…. Then, you can also add finely grated cheeses to it… Or finely chopped nuts….. Oh, it gets even more fun!

If you happen to have some dough left over, you can easily make a couple of pie pockets, with savory or sweet fillings, or top a stew with the crust for a prettier presentation! Don’t let it go to waste!

* Supposedly, the best fat mixture for pie crust is a 50-50 mixture of butter and shortening. The butter adds flavor, and the shortening provides flakiness. You could certainly use either or if you prefer.

* I went to the Aspen Food and Wine Festival many years ago, and had the pleasure of being in attendance at a Julia Child cooking demonstration. At one point she was making a pie crust, and she began beating the crap out of her dough with a giant rolling pin. Everyone started laughing. I mean, even if you knew what she was doing, it was still funny. Here was this 6 foot something hulk of a woman beating a little piece of dough! She seemed sincerely stunned at the laughter! Can you just hear her? No, really, you have to beat… the dough… to get it more pliable……