Sunday, September 7, 2014

Raisin Pie with Crumb Topping

On the first Sunday of every month my family has a potluck dinner.  I really wanted to make something for dessert, but because Betty's oven was hard at work cooking a turkey, I needed to find something I could cook in the well. 

Chambers gas range stove thermowell
The insulated lid of the Thermowell. Most Chambers stoves have a Thermowell instead of a fourth surface burner. 

The Thermowell works like a slow cooker but with the addition of the Thermobaker, it can also be used as a small oven. 

Chambers stove range thermobaker
The Thermobaker or "Thermobaker".  The writers for the Chambers literature were very fond of quotation marks.

I whipped out my handy-dandy 1950 copy of the Idle Hour Cook Book - the recipe book and user manual for the Chambers ranges - and looked for potential pie recipes, finally settling on Raisin Pie.

chambers stove range idle hour cookbook

To make a smaller pie for the well, I halved the recipe.  Instead of a double crust pie, I thought it would be good to top the filling with an oatmeal crumb topping from one of Farm Boy's mother's famous recipes, Raisin Mumbles.  Mostly I thought this because I only had enough pie crust made for a single crust pie, but I also thought it sounded tasty.

While assembling the ingredients, I discovered that the lemons that I was sure were in the crisper were, in fact, limes.  I considered using lime juice in place of the lemon, but in the end I used dark rum instead.  Rum is a good substitute for lemon, right? 

After cooking the raisins, I had some doubts about there being enough filling, so I went ahead and kept the full amount (1/2 cup) of walnuts. 

Hmmm...  I'm beginning to see a theme in my cooking: I don't know what I have on hand and I substitute willy-nilly...

chambers stove range thermowell deep well
Someone needs to clean the well...  oh wait, that someone would be me.

chambers stove range thermowell thermobaker
All baked up!

Cell phone cameras under fluorescent lighting do not take the best pics.

This was a hit at the potluck and only a tiny bit made it home with us.  I see breakfast pie in my future!

Raisin Pie (Printable Recipe)
adapted from the 1950 edition of the Idle Hour Cook Book

Filling Ingredients:
1 single layer pie crust for 8" pie dish
1 cup seedless raisins
3/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup rolled oats

Cook raisins in boiling water for 5 minutes; mix sugar, cornstarch, salt and add to raisins; cook about 3 minutes or until thick.  Remove from heat and add juice, rum, rind and nuts.  Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. 

Stir together the topping ingredients and drop in small bits over the top of the pie filling. The topping will come together as it bakes.

To cook this in the Thermobaker*, I preheated the well with the lid on for five minutes, placed the pie (in the Thermobaker) into the well, and replaced the cover, cooked with the gas on for 15 minutes and the gas off for 30 minutes.

I haven't tried baking this in a regular oven, but based on other recipes, I would bake it for 20 minutes at 425F, then lower the heat to 350F and bake for 20 to 30 more minutes, checking it at 20 minutes.

* Both the well and the oven on a Chambers are heavily insulated, so after a prescribed amount of heating time, you turn the gas off and let the food finish cooking with retained heat.


  1. I find this recipe intriguing. Is it similar to mince pie? After making it with a crumble topping, do you feel a regular crust would be better, or just different? I love English mince pies with their double crusts... even those commercially made are yummy., but I'm not always up to the task. This seems pretty quick to make.

  2. Hmmm... I would say it is similar in texture to some of the chunkier-style mince pies, but it lacks the spiciness. It is much more raisin-flavored than mince, but you could probably add some cinnamon and nutmeg (perhaps some mace?) and get more of that flavor.

    I am planning on making this pie again, with the lemon. Maybe I'll try adding a few spices with it to see what happens!

  3. Just found ur website.
    Question about the thermowell.

    When you turn the thermowell off to "cook with the gas off"

    Do you turn off the pilot lite in the thermowell also or just turn the "well" handle off and leave the pilot lite on.


    My email is