Nothing says fall in Upstate New York like a grape pie. This grapey Naples, NY confection is fairly new to the world of desserts, but it sure has made an impact. This annual treat is anticipated by many, and for some home cooks like myself worth the time-consuming effort it takes to put one together. I am not going to lie, it is work to put one of these bad boys together.
The History of The Finger Lakes Concord Grape Pie
Irene Bouchard is universally recognized as the mother of Naples’ grape pies, if not their actual inventor. In the early 1960s, Al Hodges, owner of the Redwood Restaurant, decided to use a novelty dessert to attract customers. Using a recipe he adapted from Irene Bouchard, he added pies made from abundant local grapes to the menu. The Pies were a widely popular success and Irene Bouchard became known as the Grape Pie Queen of Naples, New York. It wasn’t long before other locals started baking grape pies out of their kitchens and selling them at roadside farmstands.
It is estimated that twenty thousand pies are sold during Grape Festival Weekend alone. That is a whole lot of grape pie! But if you can’t get out to the Grape Festival this weekend I have got you covered with this recipe for Concord Grape Pie. Yes, I did say it was work, but this sweet pie is worth it!
My recipe is an adaptation of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Concord Grape pie from The Pie and Pastry Bible. Unlike Mrs. Bouchard’s grape pie, this version has a little lemon and is thickened with cornstarch. Grape pie filling is an extremely wet filling, and very easily turns into a big soggy mess. After many, many failed attempts at concord grape pie, I have found I get the best results with this pie when I pre-cook the filling on the stovetop. This added step ensures a perfectly thickened filling and reduces the chances of a soggy bottom crust. Just be absolutely sure to allow the filling to cool completely before you place it in the pie shell. If the filling is hot it will melt the bottom crust. Yes, I learned this the hard way:-/
Concord Grape Pie
- 1 recipe or your favorite double crust pie dough prepared
- 1 1/2 lbs of Concord grapes (after removing from stems)
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (6.0 oz) sugar
- 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll 1 half of a double crust pie dough into a 15-inch round. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, pressing it into the edges. Trim to a 1-inch overhang all around. Cover with plastic wrap; chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat process for rolling out dough for the top crust. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pie.
- Wash grapes and discard any that are under-ripe, damaged and blemished.
- Remove the skins from the grapes by pressing them between your thumb and forefinger. Put the skinless grapes in a medium saucepan. Reserve the skins in a small bowl.
- Gently mash the grape pulp in the medium saucepan to release their juice. Cook over medium low heat until grapes come to a full boil, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Press the grapes through a fine sieve and discard the pits.
- In a heavy bottomed pot: combine the grape pulp, grape peels and all the remaining ingredients . (You'll have about 1 1/3 cups of pulp - add everything else and you'll have about 2 cups) Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring continually until the filling is slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven with a pizza stone or baking sheet on it.
- Transfer the cooked filling to the prepared pie shell. Moisten the edges of the pie crust with water and attach the top crust, crimping the edges to seal the crust.
- Cut six small slits in the crust to act as vents. Place pie on the pizza stone, protect the edges with a pie ring, and bake for 30 minutes at 400° F and then reduce heat to 375° F and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until the filling is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack for at least 3 hours before cutting.