Spoiler alert. There is nothing Japanese about this pie. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I can explain (or attempt to explain) the origins of this pie and why it will always hold a special place in my heart and a spot on my Thanksgiving table.
To put it lightly (OK, not so lightly), my family is extremely picky. Let’s just say we like what we like, so there are usually between 3 and 4 pies on the table during the holidays – something for everyone. Pumpkin, apple, Japanese fruit pie, and maybe a chocolate chess pie thrown in for the chocolate lovers.
My grandmother was originally from Greenville, South Carolina and this recipe was passed down from her grandmother. For as long as I can remember this pie has been on our table at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
While the name might throw you for a loop, the taste is satisfyingly familiar. Think chess pie with some additional mix-ins. While my grandmother couldn’t tell me exactly where the name comes from, with a little bit of research we can guess that the coconut in the pie makes it (or made it at one time, probably the Depression Era) a little exotic. Also the only “fruit” in the fruit pie is dried, assuming that dried fruit (raisins in this case) were easier to keep and store, especially during the winter months.
While the name isn’t recognizable for some, when you have a slice you’ll know that this is indeed a sweet pie with Southern roots. If you’re a fan of pecan pie or chess pie, try this recipe and see how it measures up. One year we caught my grandmother eating directly out of the pie dish – it’s that good.
Mixing in coconut, raisins, and nuts give this sweet, gooey pie a crunchy texture while the crust is beautifully browned and light. Serve Japanese fruit pie at the end of the holiday meal and make sure there are leftovers – it pairs perfectly with a steaming cup of coffee the next morning.
Japanese Fruit Pie
- 1 Food Processor Pie Crust (or 1 refrigerated pie crust)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
- 2/3 cup shredded coconut
- 2/3 cup golden raisins
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Press pie crust to bottom and sides of pie plate. Trim pie crust to about 1-inch beyond edge of pan. Turn edge of pie crust under and press with thumb and pointer finger to crimp around the edge forming a pattern.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer on MEDIUM, beat sugar, butter, vinegar and eggs until blended, about 1 minute.
- Stir pecans, coconut and raisins into sugar mixture. Pour into prepared pie crust.
- Bake until crust and top of pie are golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.
- For preparing leaves to decorate pie crust edge, press pie crust to bottom and sides of pie plate. Trim pastry at edge of pie plate. Roll extra pie crust to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out enough leaves to go around the edge of the crust. Use a serrated edge to mark veins on each leaf. We used a plastic knife. Brush edge of pie crust with a beaten egg. Lightly press leaves around edge of pie overlapping slightly.
- To prevent the crust from over-browning, find directions on our blog Everyday Good Thinking.