Pies for September

by Sheri Castle, award-winning professional food writer

These recipes are from my book, Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book. It
is a companion cookbook to the hit Broadway show. The producer and publisher
hired me to develop the recipes based on the script and lyrics.

I picked these three pies because pears and apples are just coming into season in September – depending upon where you live in the Carolinas, they should be easy to find at the farmers market. Pear will be in season until about October, but you should be able to find good apples until February. Blackberries, on the other hand, have an amazing – and fleeting – second season in September. This savory meat and winter squash pie makes the best of them before they’re gone until next summer.


Almost Make You Believe Again Pear and Cranberry Pie


Makes one 9 1/2-inch pie



One 9-inch deep dish pie shell



1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoons molasses



6 pears (3 pounds) peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw if frozen)

½ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup quick tapioca

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon brandy

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack as it preheats.


For the streusel: Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, peppy seeds, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter and molasses. Drizzle the butter mixture over the flour mixture and stir together with a fork until small clumps form. Chill until needed.


For the filing: Toss together the pears, cranberries, sugar, tapioca, vinegar, brandy, lemon zest, cinnamon, salt, and ginger in a large bowl. Pour into the pie shell, dot with butter bits, and sprinkle with streusel.


Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake until he filling is bubbling vigorously and the crust is baked through, 50 to 60 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


 The Apple of My Eye Rum Raisin Hand Pies

Apple hand pie - Sheri Castle

Makes 6



1/3 cup golden raisins

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground mace or freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch cubes (4 cups)



Dough for a 9-inch double-crust pie shell


Egg Wash

1 large egg

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon coarse sugar, such as Demerara


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment


For the filling: Stir together the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Microwave on high for 20 seconds then let stand until the raisins plump and absorb the rum.


Stir together the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and mace in a large bowl. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla, Fold in the apples and raisins.


Working with half of the dough at a time, divide each dough ball into thirds. Roll each portion into a 1/8-inch-thick round on a lightly floured surface. Repeat the rest of the dough to make a total of six rounds. Divide the filling among the round, and then fold the pastry over the filling to make half-moons. Crimp the edges tightly.


Makes an egg wash by whisking together the egg and water in a small bowl. Gently brush the hand pies with the egg awash and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Place the filled hand pies on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until deep golden brown. Place the pies, still on the baking sheet, on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before serving.


A Little Wild, Wild Berry Pie

Wild berry pie - Sheri Castle

Makes 8 individual pies



1 1/2 pounds venison shoulder or bottom round roast or beef chuck roast cut into 2-inch pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon bacon fat or vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 cups pinot noir or other dry, fruity red wine

2 cups beef stock

3 cups winter squash such as pie pumpkin, butternut, red kuri, or kabocha, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup peeled and diced parsnip

1 cup peeled and diced carrot

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 small sprig each fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme

1 pint fresh blackberries, crushed

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

Juice of 1 lemon


Pumpkin Drop Biscuit Topping

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3/4 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the filling: Blot the meat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the bacon fat in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, add the meat and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until deeply seared and browned, turning with tongs. Transfer the browned pieces to a bowl.


Add the onion and a big pinch of salt to the pot and stir to coat. If the brown glaze on the bottom of the pot begins to scorch, add a couple of tablespoons of water to loosen and stir into the onions. Cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.


Whisk together the flour, paprika, allspice, and cayenne in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the onions and stir to coat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring continuously.


Add the wine and stir to loosen the glaze on the bottom of the pot. Stirring continuously, add the beef stock in a slow, steady stream.  Bring to a simmer, and cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring all the while.


Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Stir in the squash, parsnip, carrot, garlic, and herb sprigs.


Partially cover and cook at a bare simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard the herb stems.


Stir in the blackberries, brown sugar, mustard, and lemon juice, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.


Preheat the oven to 425°F.


For the topping: Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the pumpkin and cream in a small bowl. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir to form stiff dough.


Divide the warm filling among eight individual skillets or baking dishes that are about 5 inches in diameter. Drop a biscuit-size mound of dough evenly over the stew. Brush the tops with a little cream and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper


Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes or until the biscuits are firm. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Sheri Castle hails from Watauga County, but came down off the mountain to go to Carolina and now lives in Fearrington Village. She is a writer, recipe developer, cooking teacher, and popular public speaker. She is fueled by mountains, excellent bourbon, farmers’ markets, and searching for the right word. Sheri believes that stories happen only to those who can tell them. Check her out at shericastle.com.
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