Boiled Cider Pie

Old-fashioned Boiled Cider Pie is a delightful Fall treat. This pie has a smooth and delicate filling with a mild apple flavor and (even though it contains no milk) a lovely custard-like texture.

This recipe is from a 1905 cookbook published by a church in Berwick, Pennsylvania. I found the cookbook last summer when I was visiting the area in Central Pennsylvania where I had lived as a child. My husband and I were to meet someone for lunch – but we finished a visit with another friend earlier than anticipated. So when we saw that a tiny country church was holding a rummage sale, we decided to stop in to fill the time.

There was a sign which said, “Donate whatever you think the items you select are worth.” I was immediately drawn to the book table. There were lots of colorful cookbooks from the 1960s and 70s on the tabke. But then I noticed an a small dog-eared cookbook with  pages browned by age. I gently flipped through the book. Several pages were missing. But I could tell that it was old, really old; and that it was a church cookbook compiled by women in the nearby by town of Berwick.  My heart beat a little faster. I really wanted this book.

But there was no price. I was to donate whatever I thought it was worth.  I dug into my wallet, and pulled out a $1 bill, a $5 bill, and a couple 20’s.

I picked up the 1905 Berwick cookbook, and another small pamphlet from the 1930s that contained recipes. I handed the church member serving as cashier $6 for the two items. She said, “Some of the other cookbooks are nicer, are you sure you want these?”

I said,  “I like old cookbooks” and walked out to the car. The woman obviously felt like I paid more than enough for the items I bought. Yet I’ve felt a little guilty ever since. To me, the hundred-year-old cookbook was a find worth much more than what I paid. Should I have made a larger donation?

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Berwick (PA) Cook Book, No. 2 (The Ladies of Directory No. 2 of the Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1905)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Boiled Cider Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups cider

1 egg

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups water

2 8-inch (small) pie shells or 1 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Put the cider in a saucepan, and bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until it is reduced to approximately 1/2 cup (about 45 minutes). Stir frequently. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg in mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add sugar and flour; stir until combined. Then stir in the water and boiled cider. Put in pic shell and place in oven. Bake until the top is lightly browned, and the filling does not move in waves. (This pie takes a long time to bake. Start checking it after 45 minutes, but don’t be surprised it it takes more than 1 1/2 hours for the filling to thicken.)  Remove from oven. Cool pie before serving.

64 thoughts on “Boiled Cider Pie

  1. Wow, that looks delicious. I remember growing up and visiting the cider mill in the Catskill Mountains. I miss that original traditional flavor in Florida. That was a good buy!

    1. Like you, I remember an old-time cider mill that made the “real” thing. I love the complex sweet astringent taste of unpasteurized, cider, but it’s difficult to find these day.

  2. There’s a wonderful cider mill in Kansas I’ve visited a couple of times. There’s nothing like fresh cider, and I can imagine how perfect the taste of this pie is. I have a friend who loves old recipes and old cookbooks, and I’ve already called her to ask if she’s ever made this. She’d never heard of such a thing, and I’m going to pass this one on to her.

    1. I think that you’re right. The cookbook sure doesn’t look like much – but sometimes the most interesting recipes are found in old books like this.

  3. That’s a great find! I think your donation was fair, especially since the book missed a few pages, and it would not be of much use to most people.

    This is the second recipe I’ve seen this week that uses boiled cider. I think it’s a sign I need to get some soon! 🙂

    1. It’s amazing that you saw two recipes that used boiled cider this week. I think that we both follow some of the same blogs. Now I’m going to have to look for the other recipe that you saw. 🙂

    1. I love all old cookbooks – but old community and church cookbooks are my absolute favorites. Since most cooks shared their favorite recipes in these cookbooks, they provide not only a wealth of great food ideas, but also insight into which foods people in an area actually ate.

  4. I’m glad the cookbook landed in your hands , old treasures are meant to fall into the hands who love them. 🙂 the pie sounds wonderful!

    1. I like how you said that. I worry that so many old treasures are being lost, and do value the old cookbooks and other vintage items that I have.

  5. Did this make two pies like the original recipe? If you made one pie, did you try using less cool water to speed up the baking time?

    1. I actually made 2 pies – like described in the hundred-year-old recipe; however, the pies seemed rather thin (and small), so I think that if I made this recipe again that I’d use a larger pie pan and put all the filling in one pie shell.

      I followed the old recipe and added the amount of water it called for, but it might be worth experimenting with the use of less water. Like you, I wondered why the recipe called for so much cool water. It seemed like I first boiled off much of the water in the cider, and then I added it back in.

  6. I think old cookbooks are enchanting. I almost feel like you rescued the books from the description and the cashier’s reaction. Well done!

    Your pie looks mighty tasty. I’ve never heard of a boiled cider pie. Thanks for sharing about it and the recipe.

  7. Love those moments of rushing to the car, thinking that someone may stop you and say, “hey wait!” Happened to us once when we bought a hundred year old pocket watch. This pie sounds delicious.

  8. What an interesting idea for a pie, and lucky you for stopping at the rummage sale. I may need to try this one. I collect old cookbooks myself so I bet I’d have picked up the same one. So wonderful of you to bring back the days of old through cooking.

    1. I have a lot of fun finding, making, and writing about the old recipes. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy reading about the cooking in days gone by.

  9. Greetings to your little US Berwick cookbook from Berwick-upon-Tweed in the UK! Sounds like you got a little treasure with this old cookbook. I’m intrigued by the cider ingredient because in the UK, cider is fermented apple juice. Am I right in thinking that here cider is raw apple juice?

    1. Wow, it’s amazing that a regular reader of my blog is from a town in the UK with the same name as the town where the cookbook was published. I’m now curious about how Berwick in the U.S. got it’s name–and whether some people from Berwick-upon-Tweed moved there. Yes, the cider I used in this recipe is unfermented cider. It is made from pressed apples, and is is a little thicker than filtered apple juice.

      1. Isn’t the internet wonderful (despite all its faults) that we should be able to make the connection from my home in Berwick to your old home of Berwick in the US! I am always moved when I find familiar names in places like US and Australia to those I know in our locality – you just have to be amazed at the courage of the people who made those long journeys to start new lives in unknown places. It reminds me that while I in my retirement am so comfortable here – with plentiful food, good health services, warmth and a secure roof over my head – it was not so for generations and generations who lived here. Life was very hard – dangerous with local occupations of mining and fishing quite apart from the border raids from Scotland. And I bet it wasn’t at all an easy life when they arrived in those new lands either. It would be fascinating to find out more about the immigrants’ stories. Incidentally there is also a Berwick village in Sussex and North Berwick just up the coast from us in Scotland, but neither of them are as large a town as Berwick-upon-Tweed.

        1. It’s hard to imagine all the challenges people must have faced in days gone by as they traveled across the ocean to new homes. It’s amazing how many Berwick’s there are in the UK. It makes me wonder if there are multiple Berwick’s in the U.S.

  10. You learn something new everyday! I’m wondering what the consistency of this is, it appears similar to the base of pecan pie and might make a healthier substitute (filled with pecans, of course). 🙂

  11. What an interesting pie. I love cider, so I have a feeling I’d love this. It does remind me of another pie they make in Central PA … I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s basically pecan pie without the pecans.

    1. Hmmm. . . are you thinking of Shoo Fly pie? It’s not exactly the same, but maybe it’s somewhat similar. It’s a good Pennsylvania Dutch pie.

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