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Kentucky Raisin Pie

"Hae a braw Independence day" is this column's wish for our many visitors from the USA. Independence Day is a reminder that our skeilie webmaster is shortly off to the States and will be masterminding The Flag from only an email away! Scots heading for the Americas is nothing new. If tradition is to be believed Earl Henry Sinclair voyaged from Orkney to Nova Scotia as early as 1398. Many, however, went unwillingly - The Highland Clearances, really The Scottish Clearances, saw countless thousands forced to travel westwards from the land of their birth. The story of The Highland Clearances is well known but the clearance of the Lowlands less so. However the clearance of the cottars, the Lowland equivalent of the crofters, was totally successful. As a renowned Scottish historian said recently on Radio Scotland "There are still crofts in the Highlands but there are no cottars."
But many also went willingly such as the 'Selkirk Settlers' who left Skye 200 years ago to settle in Prince Edward Island; Canada's smallest province. Last week saw descendants of the 600 people who left Skye returning to the land of their forebears and planting an oak tree in commemoration near the ruins of Leitirfura, a deserted village on a hill above the Sound of Sleat. The visit by the Canadian party of 18 proved that the blood has remained strong.
Alastair McIntyre is looking forward to meeting friends, both old and new, as he tours the circuit of Scottish events in the States and to mark American Independence Day, we are supplying a Kentucky feast for him to try before departure. Kentucky Raisin Pie is appropriate for Alastair as he will be residing on his arrival in Kentucky.
Kentucky Raisin Pie
Ingredients : 6 oz (175 g) sweet shortcut pastry (see below); 5 oz (150 g) seedless raisins; 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda; 4 tablespoons hot water; 2 oz (50 g ) soft brown sugar
For the topping : 4 oz (100 g) plain flour; 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg; 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger; 2 oz (50 g ) butter; 2 oz (50 g ) soft brown sugar
Roll out the pastry thinly and line a 8 inch ( 20 cm) greased pie plate. Pinch the edge of the pastry with finger and thumb into a decorative border. Prick the pastry base all through to the plate and cover with raisins. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water and the brown sugar and pour it over with the raisins.
Sieve the flour and spices together. Cut in the butter and rub it in with the tips of the fingers until the consistency of breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar over the raisin filling.
Bake in a pre-heated hot oven (220 deg C, 425 deg F, Gas Mark 7) for 10 minutes until the pie begins to brown. Reduce the heat ( 160 deg C, 325 deg F, Gas Mark 3) and continue cooking for 20 minutes until the filling is set.
Serve hot or cold, with whipped cream if wished.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry - Ingredients : 6 oz (175 g) plain flour; pinch of salt; 2 oz (50 g) butter or margarine ; 2 oz ( 50 g) lard or shortening; 2 teapoons caster sugar; 1 egg yolk, beaten; cold water to mix
This quantity is sufficient to line a flan case measuring 8-9 inches (20 - 22 cm) across. Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut in the fat and toss until covered with flour. Rub in the fat with  the tips of your fingers, lifting your hands well above the bowl to incorporate as much air as possible. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Stir a tablespoon of water into the egg yolk and mix into the pastry. Stir in sufficent cold water, using a palette knife, to make a fairly stiff dough. turn on to a floured board and knead lightly to remove cracks. Cover and put into a cool larder or refrigerator to relax for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

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