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Apple-Cranberry Pie

December 8, 2010
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Not only am I back in the kitchen and making yummy food again, but I’m finally blogging about it!  Granted this recipe might be less useful since Thanksgiving has come and gone and you might not have cranberries lying around, but regardless,  I’m so proud of myself.  It’s sad, but true.

This time of year cookie-making dominates my kitchen.  I love cookies probably more than the next person, so I’m not one to complain, but it can be nice to change things up.  I’d been thinking for some time that I wanted to make a pie, but traveling and not having a kitchen doesn’t lend itself to cooking much of anything.  Which is why I decided, on a weeknight none-the-less, to make this pie.  Okay, so I took some shortcuts (like using a just-add-water pie crust mix– more on that later), but it was definitely one of the better decision I’ve made lately.  And now I get to have pie for breakfast!

There are a couple of noteable things about this recipe, the first of which is the cranberries.  If you have any cranberry sauce left over from Thanksgiving, now would be the time to use it because the “cranberry” part of this pie is essentially, that’s right, cranberry sauce!  It compliments the flavor and sweetness of the apples really nicely, plus the red layer at the bottom of the pie looks pretty.

Next up we have the apples, which are essentially cooked before you even put the pie in the oven.  This is why I love Cook’s Illustrated: they try all sorts of different ways of doing things and you can rely on their methods to always be the best (although occasionally there is extra work involved).  In this case the extra work was microwaving and stirring the apples, but if meant that the crust stayed crispy and the pie baked in about 45 minutes rather than the usual hour or more.

Let’s talk about the crust.  I didn’t feel like making my own crust, so I asked Nate to buy a pre-made crust.  He came home with a box of just-add-water Pillsbury crust.  I was horrified.  How on earth can something that is supposed to have butter in it be in a powder form to which you add water?  I sent him back to the store to buy the kind that is in the long red box that unroll into a pie plate, but instead he came home with the kind of crust that’s frozen into the aluminum pie plates, which I couldn’t use either.  So I decided to give the just-add-water crust a shot.  It actually turned out better than the crust that you unroll into the pie plate– it was light, flaky and totally didn’t taste like it came out of a box!  I’ll have to keep that shortcut in mind for next time.

The most important thing about this pie (and this is a first, people) is that Nate ate two slices in one sitting.  The man is notorious for his disregard of most desserts, but he had two slices of pie.  It really is that good.

Apple Cranberry Pie
(Taken from Cook’s Illustrated)

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon for top of pie
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 1/2 pounds sweet apples (6 to 7 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see note above)
1 recipe pie dough (see related recipe)
1 egg white , beaten lightly

Bring cranberries, juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally and pressing berries against side of pot, until berries have completely broken down and juices have thickened to jamlike consistency (wooden spoon scraped across bottom should leave clear trail that doesn’t fill in), 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in water, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in large microwave-safe bowl; add apples and toss to combine. Microwave on high power, stirring with rubber spatula every 3 minutes, until apples are just starting to turn translucent around edges and liquid is thick and glossy, 10 to 14 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

While fillings cool, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Transfer cooled cranberry mixture to dough-lined pie plate and spread into even layer. Place apple mixture on top of cranberries, mounding slightly in center; push down any sharp apple edges.

Roll second disk of dough on generously floured work surface (up to 1/4 cup) to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side.

Using kitchen shears, cut evenly through both layers of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg white and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Using sharp paring knife, cut four 1 1/2-inch slits in top of dough in cross pattern.

7. Place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake until top is light golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, rotate baking sheet, and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool at least 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

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