Grandma Ida Badertscher’s raisin nut pie reminds me of pecan pie, but without the overwhelming sweetness.
The pie not only sets taste buds tingling, it serves up a whole lot of family history as well. When I got the recipe as a young bride, I had no idea that the more than 50-year-old recipe – now aged 100-plus — was so important to the Swiss Mennonite immigrants who settled in northeastern Ohio in the 19th century.
My husband’s great-grandfather, Abraham Amstutz, emigrated from the Jura Mountains of Switzerland in May 1871. He landed in Sonnenberg, a Mennonite community in Wayne County, Ohio, and married “Lizzie” Steiner in 1874. Their daughter Ida was born the next year. She grew up to marry another Swiss Mennonite immigrant, Frederick Badertscher.
Ida had four great uncles who had also come from Switzerland. One of those uncles, Ben Amstutz, was a cheese maker of some renown. His farm became known as “Benville.” When Ben’s youngest daughter married in 1913, the details of the celebration were featured in the Dalton, Ohio, Gazette.
“About 100 guests were invited to the dinner at the bride’s home in Benville and about the same number, the younger ones, for supper. Anyone who has ever been present at that place in any kind of gatherings will know that something was doing this time,” read the account.
Fifty raisin pies along with many other kinds were baked and cake – well perhaps not as plentiful as the silver at the building of Solomon’s temple, but plenty. Tropical fruits — oranges, bananas, California grapes, etc. — were in profusion. The happy couple were the recipients of so many presents that two beds were completely covered.
I was delighted to find this reference to raisin pie, (FIFTY of them!) since one of my husband’s aunts had given me a recipe when we attended a Badertscher reunion shortly after we were married in the early 1960s. She told me that her mother-in-law, Ida Amstutz Badertscher – aka Grandma Badertscher – had made the raisin nut pie all her life, and that it probably reached back even further. So even in 1960 it was already well over 50 years old.
I wonder what Ida Amstutz Badertscher would think of her pie still being baked in a 21st-century kitchen.
– Vera Marie Badertscher
This story is reprised from one that ran originally in Badertscher’s blog, Ancestors in Aprons.
AFR community member Vera Marie Badertscher received this recipe as a young bride from her husband's family. She says it reminds her of pecan pie, minus the sometimes cloying sweetness.
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 3/4 cup nuts, preferably walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 9-inch, unbaked pie shell
- Whipped cream, optional
Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside to soak. Beat eggs well, then slowly add the sugar. Beat in the flour. Add the milk, vanilla and butter, and mix until well combined.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Drain the raisins and stir in with the nuts and raisins. Pour the mixture into unbaked pie shell.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until custard is set. If nuts seem to be browning, loosely cover the pie with a piece of aluminum foil.
Serve with whipped cream, if desired.