Raisin Pie

If you were to ask me what my favorite pie is, I’d say raisin … or strawberry-rhubarb … or raisin. It’s a toss-up between the two! Raisin was also my grandpa’s favorite pie. I don’t recall my grandma ever making it, but I certainly remember my mom baking one at least once a year so he’d have some. He loved it … and would talk about his mom, Grandma Phoebe, making it when he was a kid.

Raisin pie

Grandpa was 14 when is mama died … that was the early years of the Great Depression.

I’ve heard a lot of folks reminisce that “this area was so poor, we didn’t know there was a depression”. There is some truth to that sentiment, but I still can’t imagine a time of “Hoovervilles” and the inability to provide for your family. Dessert certainly wasn’t served after every meal like it can be today. Even during the prosperity of the 1920s, a good majority of families in southern Illinois were living frugally, ours included. Raisin pie was a sweet treat Grandma Phoebe could make with limited supplies, but I doubt she made it often. It was a treat and Grandpa savored every bite. He had very fond memories of her that he willingly shared … frequently … which is the only reason I know my great-grandmother so well having never met her. 

We don’t have a family recipe, per se, just the general rule that the more raisins, the better.

Most recipes call for 2 cups of raisins. I have a very deep pie plate that I “permanently borrowed” from my grandma one day … that’s a perfect excuse for me to use 4 cups of raisins! 

Raisin Pie

I also use rum or brandy in mine … I like my spirits!

Raisin Pie

To get as close to what my great grandma probably baked, I combined recipes out of an 1897 White House cook book and the 1895 Fannie Farmer cookbook … then adapted them to fit the way I cook.  

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Raisin Pie
Serves 6
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Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
  1. 4 cups raisins
  2. 2 1/2 cups water
  3. 1/4 cup rum or brandy
  4. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  5. 3 tablespoons corn starch
  6. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 tablespoon lemon
  9. 1 tablespoon butter
  10. Pastry crust for top and bottom of pie shell
  11. 1 egg for egg wash on top crust
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add raisins and water to sauce pan and bring to a boil, cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Stir in rum, sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice.
  5. Continue to simmer until liquid begins to thicken slightly.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool.
  7. Prepare 9-inch pie pan with bottom crust.
  8. Pour cooled raisin filling into crust and top with pats of butter.
  9. Place top crust over pie, crimp, and slit to allow steam to escape.
  10. Brush top crust with egg wash.
  11. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  12. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes.
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