Saturday, May 30, 2009

We'll Put Prunes In Anyting: Prune Pie

The one dish that says "Mom & Family" to me beyond all others is vinaterta, an Icelandic layered torte with stewed prunes between the layers. It's nice find out that the German side of her family also would put prunes in anything. From the Spratt/Bachman & Mellberg/McKenzie Family Cookbook 2008:
Prune Pie
Magdalena Berger Bachman
Neva Spratt Bachman

1 c. prunes - cooked and pitted (1 lb.)
Beat well and add
1/2 c. cugar
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. milk
dash salt
Put in crust and add strip top and bake.
Another recipe where you'd best know what the hell you're doing. Do you have a favorite pie crust recipe? Use it. Do you know what temperature your oven prefers for pies? Use it. And then we come to the prunes.

Dried, or fresh? A quick internet check shows recipes using both (sometimes in the same pie). And, yes, I do call fresh prunes "prunes" -- Grandpa had a prune tree in his side yard. Regardless!

When in doubt about a family recipe, call on family. I gave my mom a call, and she was sort of surprised by my question. "Dried, of course! Why?" I explained about not wanting to lead anyone astray, and through a twisty conversation, she assured me that the Bachman family prune pie was really very very very good, and then secured a promise that I would make it for her when next we are together.

My grandma died when I was three; I don't have first-hand memories of her. But, oh, the stories. Everyone says she was the best pie maker ever. Grandpa had an entire lot devoted to gardening, and that which he grew, she canned, or froze, or baked into pies and cakes. The lot is gone now; when Grandpa and Grandma Fran moved into assisted living, the house was sold and the lots divided. A new, big house was built, and it's more than a little bit strange to know the garden's gone. I don't know if the prune tree remains.


  1. Hello Wendy. I am actually the creator of this cookbook. Imagine my surprise when my grandmother came up in a Google search! Thank you for your great posts. I manage the facebook account for The Cavalier County Museum at Dresden and posted a link to your blog on our page. Thanks again Susan

  2. Well, hello there! If you're the editor of the cookbook, we're almost certainly cousins of some stripe or another. Magdalena was my great-grandmother; her boy Nicholas was my grandfather!

    We actually made the prune pie for Thanksgiving last year -- it was amazing.

    Thank you for your work on the cookbook. I cherish it.

  3. I'm Wendy's sister. Our mom got the cookbook for her at a Bachman family reunion here in Portland. So glad to "meet" the author!