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Kitchen Mailbox: Raisin and ricotta pies serve slices of dessert heaven

Thursday, March 02, 2000

By Arlene Burnett , Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pie in one form or another has been a hot item since 5th-century Greece. Back then, pie was made with meat or fish and was served as the main meal. Fast forward to the16th century and Elizabeth I. We can thank the queen for giving us the fruit pie, because she requested pitted and preserved cherries in her pies instead of the typical meat or fish. Fast forward again. It's the year 2000 and pies are more popular than ever.

Our first recipe today is for raisin pie. If you like raisins, you'll love the pie. Today we'll give you two reasons you should at least consider it: Josephine Cynkar's Raisin Pie and Eileen Fogarty's Raisin Cream Pie. Both pies are sweet. If that doesn't suit your tastes, try cutting back on the sugar, because it won't change the taste. After testing and tasting both pies, we've become fast fans of this old-fashioned dessert.

We have two versions of Ricotta Pie. The first is made with lemon gelatin, which gives this pie a wonderful tangy taste. The second pie boasts the wonderful flavors of vanilla and orange. Either pie would make a great dessert for Easter.

Karen Kraus of Carrick requested a recipe for raisin pie using 3 cups of raisins. This first version was sent in by Josephine Cynkar of West View.

Raisin Pie

Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie
3 cups seedless raisins
3 cups hot water
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar (less may be used)
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Boil raisins, water and lemon rind together for three minutes. Set aside about 1/3 cup of the liquid.

Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Combine the 1/3 cup liquid with flour mixture, stir until combined and smooth. Combine flour mixture with raisins, stirring frequently. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add butter and cool. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. Add top crust and bake for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

The next recipe was sent in by Eileen Fogarty of Carnegie.

Raisin Cream Pie

Pastry for double-crust pie
3 cups seedless raisins
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups light cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse raisins in warm water, drain thoroughly. Chop raisins using a food processor with a metal blade. Add sugar, cream and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Pour into pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan. Add top crust and flute edges. Make two or three slits in crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until light brown.

Chris Neidermeyer of Uniontown requested a recipe for Ricotta Pie. Here are two versions we found to be excellent. The first recipe was submitted by Joyce Clark of Lower Burrell.

No Bake Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

3 (3-ounce) packages lemon-flavored gelatin
3 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pound or 2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water, refrigerate one hour.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Over a large bowl, press ricotta through a sieve. Add cream cheese, salt and gelatin. Beat at medium speed until just smooth. Pour into prepared pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Darlene Tchirkow of Mt. Lebanon found this recipe on a container of Lamagna Ricotta Cheese. We know why she has been using the same recipe for 20 years -- it's delicious.

Italian Ricotta Pie


1 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice

Sift flour with baking powder and salt.

Beat butter with sugar and egg until fluffy. Beat in vanilla, orange zest and orange juice. Add half of the flour mixture with wooden spoon; beat until well blended. Add remaining flour, knead several times to blend. Set aside.


1 pound ricotta cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
2 teaspoons almond extract
3 large whole eggs
2 tablespoons chopped citron (found in specialty shops or large supermarkets)
1 egg white

Beat ricotta cheese until creamy. Add sugar, whole eggs, flour, almond extract and citron.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide pastry crust in half. On moistened surface or between two sheets of wax paper, roll out to 11-inch circle. Fit into 9-inch pie pan. Brush bottom crust with egg white (this helps prevent a soggy crust). Pour in filling. Roll remaining crust and cut into lattice strips to criss-cross top of filling to form top crust.

Bake 50 minutes or until top is golden brown. Do not overbake. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Optional: Place almond slices on top of filling in between lattice crust.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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