Recipes from the Masters: Holidays Edition: Volume 1

In the most recent adventures in trying to become a 1950’s housewife, I decided to try out several holiday themed recipes from our archives. The first of which, and the subject of today’s blog post, is for pie crust and cranberry pie. Just last year I discovered a love for cranberries and this recipe may become a seasonal favorite.

Now that the obligatory bit of my life story is out of the way, I present the recipes.

Front page of a newspaper which has a large picture of a man feeding chickens in the center.
Front page of the December 2, 1955 issue of Lancaster Farming.

No-Roll Pie Crust:
Source:  December 2, 1955 – Lancaster Farming

2 cups sifted flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup oil
2 tablespoons: cold milk* (see comments)

“Put dry ingredients in a nine-inch pie pan. Combine oil and milk in measuring cup. Whip with fork and pour all flour mixture. Mix with fork until flour is completely dampened. Press evenly and with fingers to line bottom of pan, then press dough up to line sides. Press uniformly. Fill with filling and bake.”

This recipe is fantastic. The final product, though not necessarily pretty, is wonderfully flaky. The process of cooking itself is very straightforward. Mixing everything in the pie pan is a tad bit bothersome due to the tight space. Also, the ratio of milk to flour is a bit too low. I’ve found that the crust turns out best when you gradually add more milk as you mix. I’ve found that 3-/ 1/2 tablespoons of milk creates the best mixture. This isn’t a hard and fast rule – just add small amounts of milk until you get the desired consistency. As the pie filling portion of this recipe calls for a baked crust, I baked it at 350 degrees for half an hour while I worked on the filling.


Merry Berry Fluff Pie:
Source: December 20, 1957 – Lancaster Farming

1 9-inch baked pie shell
½ cup water

Front page of a newspaper.
Front cover of the December 20 issue of Lancaster Farming.

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup whole raw cranberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (one envelope)
¼ cup cold water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons enriched flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 2/4 cups milk
½ teaspoon rum extract
4 egg whites
½ cup sugar
½ cup flaked coconut

“Combine one-half cup water and two-third cup sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Add cranberries and cook until skins burst, about five minutes. Then combine cornstarch and one tablespoon water. Add to cranberry mixture and cook until mixture is thickened and clear, stirring constantly. Cool completely. Meanwhile, soften gelatin in one-fourth cup water. Mix one-third cup sugar, flour, and salt in saucepan. Stir in milk. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Blend in softened gelatin and rum extract. Cool. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add one half cup sugar gradually and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks are formed. Fold into cooled gelatin mixture. Fold in coconut. Spread cranberry mixture in an even layer over bottom of cooled pastry shell. Spoon gelatin mixture lightly over cranberries. Chill until firm (one to two hours).”


Okay, so this recipe did not go as planned. While the cranberry mixture itself was great, everything else went slightly wrong.  The first issue was with the sugar, flour, and salt mixture which would not thicken. Initially, I’d assumed it would after cooling. However, this was not the case. Adding the gelatin mixture to it did not help matters. The second issue was, beyond a shadow a doubt, my fault. As I did not have an electric mixer at that point, I was unable to whip the eggs to the proper degree.
After pacing around in a fit of exhausted irritation for a short period of time, I decided to taste the gelatin mixture to see if I could find a way to salvage the project without sacrificing a ton of the taste. By complete luck, this mixture tasted almost exactly like the cream filling from the previous banana cream pie recipe that I tried in my first blog post. So, I quickly followed the cream recipe from that, replacing the bananas with the cranberry filling.
The combination worked brilliantly. When cooking, it looked like there wouldn’t be enough cranberry filling to have much of a taste. However, this was not the case. As one of my test subjects coworkers noted, the cranberries’ tartness was perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the cream. The pie in general was well received by everyone who tried it. I liked it so much that I have decided to make it my yearly contribution for Christmas dinner.

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