Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Dreaming of Pie

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor

Tags: recipe, pie, American Pie Council,

Jean TellerIn another sharing of the e-mails that find their way into my inbox comes this gem.

One of the recent press releases to find its way to me had this subject line: Raisin Pie Wins Top Pro Award at Recent APC/Crisco National Pie Championships. We talked about the contest in GRIT eNEWS in our March 19 issue and I can’t resist more pie news.

It seems this year was the first time professionals (chefs, restaurant owners and the like) were allowed to enter a raisin pie. The new category was sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board.


Chocolate Walnut Raisin Pie won Best of Show in the 16th Annual American Pie Council/Crisco 2010 National Pie Championship.

Andrea Springs, who owns the Sign of the Mermaid Restaurant in Bradenton, Florida, took up the challenge, producing a Chocolate Walnut Raisin Pie that not only won the raisin category but also took Best of Show in the 16th Annual American Pie Council/Crisco 2010 National Pie Championship.

The contest was part of the APC’s Great American Pie Festival, sponsored by Crisco, which was held in April in Orlando. The annual event draws professional, amateur and commercial bakers of all skill levels, ages and degrees of training to compete in an annual bake-off. The festival also offers a contest for budding junior chefs.

The professional part of the competition drew 170 pies in nine categories: Apple, Crisco Classic Cherry, Crisco Classic Chocolate, Citrus, Cream, Fruit & Berry, Nut, Raisin and Open. Nine first-place winners then competed for the Best of Show title.

“When I saw that raisin was a new category in the professional division, I really wanted to tackle that because I like the challenge of the new and unusual. I love raisins, but I considered that a ‘straight-out’ raisin pie may not appeal to the masses. The first time I made the pie, I knew the flavors were perfect for the contest. Pairing it with favorites like milk chocolate and walnuts enhances the raisins and creates a very appealing pie,” said winner Spring.

I don’t know about you, but this recipe, found here, sounds simply delish.

Although …. Andrea, have you considered using dark chocolate?

Now I’m off to dream about Chocolate Walnut Raisin Pie!

jean teller
6/7/2010 9:35:52 AM

Jean, I haven't had a good raisin pie in a while, either - and yes, they are rich, aren't they!?! My mom used Crisco in her pie crusts - yummy! Sounds like an all-butter crust would be a good thing :), falling somewhere between Crisco and lard. And I would think that butter plus love equals a delicious pie! Good eating!

jean picard_2
6/4/2010 4:48:01 PM

Jean, I haven't had raisin pie since I was a girl. I can only eat a tiny sliver of it, though, as it is so very sweet. The Amish call it funeral pie because it is so popular on those occasions. When I started baking pies as a young girl, I used Crisco. And I've made a few with lard. They were all good, but for decades now I've made all-butter pie crusts. I think you're right--it's the love that makes the difference!

nebraska dave
5/29/2010 10:19:04 PM

Jean, my Mom most definitely used lard. In fact we grew the lard used in those yummy pies. I can even remember my first job helping with one of butcherings was to cut the fat from the hog in chunks to be rendered into lard. Real home made butter for toast and cream skimmed off the top of the milk for breakfast cereal were all common place.

jean teller
5/28/2010 5:39:15 PM

I have to agree, Dave. Any pie is great - I do like apple too, and blueberry. One of my favorites in my younger days was a chocolate cream pie that was kept cold. Smooth like ice cream! My dad's absolute fav was lemon meringue - I can't eat lemon anything without thinking of him. :) My mom's pies were the greatest too. Would your mother have made the crust with lard? I hear that's often the missing ingredient when something doesn't taste like we remember. Or it could be the love that went into the making/baking. LOL I'm not sure why the raisin pie was such a major player this year at the contest. Seems to me it would have been a winner long before now! Happy eating! :)

nebraska dave
5/28/2010 7:48:10 AM

Jean, I do love pie. Just about any pie will do, but the most favorite pie of mine is Mom’s apple pie. There was something about the way Mom made apple pie that I haven’t been able to find in any other apple pie. I am not a baker. There is a talent of pie making that definitely makes one pie better than the next. Everyone that knows me will tell you that Old Dave will work for apple pie, apple crisp, or apple anything. There are many ways to eat an apple a day. Raisin pie sounds quite interesting. Why did the contest not allow raisin pie until now? All this talk about pie has made me hungry for a piece. I’ll have to find one before the day is over. Happy pie hunting.