Vinegar Pie, an up-to-date recipe that still stays true to its roots. The basic ingredients are all there, but with a few little optional extras for even better flavour!
My friend Terry has been talking about Vinegar Pie for a very long time and “encouraging” (translation: pleading) me to bake one for him. He remembers it from growing up in Comfort Cove, Notre Dame Bay here in Newfoundland. It was a very simple pie, made from just a few ingredients and it is quite probable that on some occasions, it was made with homemade vinegar from a vinegar plant that was kept by his grandmother.
I have seen reference made to this homemade vinegar being made from another recipe from a Mrs. Boyd of Summerford, NL. That recipe refers to feeding the vinegar plant in a solution of molasses and water, which apparently was the way many folks did it back then.
So where did Vinegar Pie come from?
I’ve read that this was a popular Depression Era recipe. That makes sense because of the availability and low cost of the ingredients. I’ve also read that it goes back further than that to pioneer days in the States.
One person over on our Facebook Page told even me it was a traditional Good Friday dessert all along Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula. That was a new one on me too.
I’m sure the origin will never be fully known but I was quite intrigued to try it. In the end, I stuck to basic ingredients because I thought that they were what were most likely to be used by those who made it years ago.
Keeping to the Vinegar Pie Basics
This pie can easily be made by simply using 5 key ingredients Try it with just eggs, white vinegar, all white sugar and butter in the filling it you want to try a more pared down, old fashioned version.
I added a few more ingredients for extra flavour based upon other recipes I’d read. Terry, the friend I was baking it for, remembers raisins in his childhood pie, so I added them for him as well. You can of course, leave those out as well.
I did lick the spoon after filling the pie shell and I was surprised by the unique flavour of those simple ingredients when combined. There is no distinct flavour of vinegar per se ( I used apple cider vinegar) but it’s quite hard to put your finger on anything that it was like. I was even more intrigued at that point to taste it when fully baked and cooled.
Wow! What a completely unique flavour! The vinegar is not as pronounced as I expected but is far more subtle. There is just enough to leave a tangy flavour on the tongue.
Combined with the flakey, buttery, pastry crust and the sweet creamy filling, it was just outstanding. I’m already planning to add this one to the menu for my Christmas dinner!
Like this Vinegar Pie recipe?
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- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (for flakier pastry) or just use extra butter
- 1/4 cup ice water or a little more
- 1 tbsp vinegar mixed with the water
- 4 eggs
- 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup golden yellow or light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- pinch salt
- 3/4 cup raisins optional
Using a food processor or a pastry blender cut cold butter into flour and salt until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Small pea sized pieces of butter should still be visible.
Pour cold water over the mixture and work in by tossing with a fork until dough begins to form. Use your hands as little as possible and working the dough as little as possible, form into a ball.
Flatten the dough into a circle about an inch thick, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes.
You can make your dough the previous day but make sure you take it out of the fridge for 10 -20 minutes to warm slightly before rolling out.
Roll the dough into a 12-13 inch round and place in the bottom of a 9 1/2 inch pie plate.
Trim and flute the edges as desired.
Chill the pie crust until ready to use or at least 5-20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F while preparing the filling.
Whisk together all of the ingredients in the filling, except the raisins, until the sugars are almost completely dissolved.
If using raisins, sprinkle them evenly over the bottom of the prepared pie shell.
Pour the filling mixture slowly and evenly all over the surface of the raisins. If you pour it all in quickly, in one spot, the raisins will all be pushed to the outer edges.
Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees F for another 10-15 minutes or until the top of the pie is evenly browned. The pie should be set wobble at the centre like jelly before it leaves the oven.
Cool on a wire rack. Can be served at room temperature when it cools or refrigerate until cold.
Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if you like.
Any leftover will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Note, this recipe can be made with as few as 5 ingredients. The spices, raisins and vanilla extract are completely optional and meant to make a good thing even better. You can even use plain white vinegar if you like. Please feel free to try the recipe without the optional ingredients if you like, for a taste of what is a recipe well over a century old at least.
The pastry recipe here, is sufficient to give the pie a thicker than usual crust. I find this very helpful when baking pies like this with wet fillings (such as a pecan pie or pumpkin pie) An initial blast of heat at the bottom of the pan as instructed, with the oven rack on second lowest level, ensures that your pie will not get a soggy bottom.
Be sure the oven is fully preheated and the crust is well chilled, this also helps a lot. Do not take the chilled pie crust out of the fridge until it is time to fill the pie and then get it into the oven as quickly as possible.
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.
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