By Habeeb Salloum
After the cold and harsh winters of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec and the northeastern region of the United States, followed by warm and sunny spring thaws, this part of North America has the advantage when it comes to the production of maple syrup. Ideal weather conditions in these areas help to produce the sweetest and most flavourful maple syrup to be found in any part of the world.
Even though maple syrup is popularly known as a breakfast waffle and pancake condiment, today, when the sap runs, family and friends gather to enjoy such dishes as maple-baked beans, maple omelettes and endless maple desserts. Many even relish this traditional and natural sweet as hot maple taffy, served on a bed of fresh snow.
Dining on one of these dishes will make one a devotee of this natural sweet. Proof in point – ‘Maple Syrup RaisinPie’.
Maple Syrup Raisin Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
2 tablespoons water
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups raisins
1 cup water
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved
in 2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
To make the pie crust, in a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine butter, water, egg and vinegar then set aside.
In another mixing bowl, combine salt and the flour then slowly pour in contents of the other mixing bowl. Work into a dough, adding a little water or flour if necessary. Divide dough into 2 balls, one a little larger than the other. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.
To make the filling, combine raisins, water, and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and salt together then stir into raisins. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice and butter. Cool slightly.
To make the pie, roll out the larger ball and place in 9-inch pie plate lightly pressing dough along the bottom and sides. Pour the cooled filling into the crust. Roll out the remaining ball of dough and top over filling, pinching the top and bottom edges together. Pierce top crust with fork a few times to allow steam to escape.
Cover edges with foil to avoid burning. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden, removing foil the last 10 minutes of baking.