I feel like the last to post an apple cranberry pie recipe. This should’ve been posted before Thanksgiving, but I’ve been too busy whipping up pies for family dinners (yes – there were several) and that allowed me to experiment with creative decorative pie crusts: crimped edges, braided edges, cut out shapes, honeycomb pattern, lattice tops. The variations are so pretty and endless!
I couldn’t find a cookie cutter with this specific leaf shape so it was time to improvise. Using a paring knife, I “cut-out” same sized leaves and drew in veins. It was a bit challenging to work with the dough for the first time because the buttery crust gets warm and melts fast while working – not fun. But let me assure you, it gets easier the second and third time around when you get comfortable with pie baking. You also learn (or come up with!) a few tricks that make decorative pie crusts a breeze to work with. For example, I always keep a chilled ceramic plate by my side to place the cut outs on, or pop the dough in the freezer for a few minutes in case it gets hard to work with.
Just like everything else in life, the key to success in any field is a matter of practice, practice, practice! So if you want to become a better baker then go to your kitchen, put on that apron, and turn your oven on. The hardest part is always taking that first step, but the results are always priceless.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Dough Recipe (Pâte Brisée): Yields 2 single 9″ (23 cm) pie crusts – Serves 10 people.
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
1 cup (2 sticks, 226 grams) unsalted butter cut into small cubes and chilled
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Using a Pastry cutter:
1. Cut butter into cubes and place in the freezer to chill.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Add the cold cubed butter and, using a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the flour until
pea-size crumbles form.
4. Gradually add 1/4 cup of ice water and mix together the dough with your hands until it holds together when squeezed. Add more ice water by the tablespoon if needed.
5. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap individually in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight before using. Dough can be stored up to 1 month in the freezer.
Using a Food Processor:
1. Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt a few times to combine.
2. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand, and pieces of butter are still visible.
3. Slowly add 1/4 cup water while pulsing until the dough holds together when squeezed. If needed, add more ice water by the tablespoon until the dough reaches this consistency. Do not over-process!
4. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap individually in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight before using. Dough can be stored up to 1 month in the freezer.
3 lb. (1.4 kg) Braeburn and honey crisp apples, peeled, cored and
cut into thin slices (¼” or 0.5 cm)
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
10 oz. (285 g) fresh cranberries
¼ cup water
1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp. water
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1. In a 5 Liter Dutch oven, toss together the sliced apples, light brown sugar, ¼ cup of the granulated sugar, spices, salt and cornstarch until the apples are evenly coated. Set over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Let cool for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, mix the cranberries with the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and water. Set over medium-high heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have broken down slightly and the liquid has thickened to the consistency of jam. Let cool for 45 minutes.
3. Add the cranberry mixture to the apple mixture and stir to combine.
4. While both mixtures are cooling, prepare the pie shell. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half of the dough into a 12″(30 cm) round about 1/8″ (0.3 cm) thick. Fold the dough in half and then into quarters and transfer it to a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish. Unfold and gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. On a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper, roll out the remaining dough disk into a 12-inch round or use a cookie cutter to create a decorative crust. Refrigerate the dough round/cutouts for 30 minutes.
5. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven, place a baking sheet on the rack and pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
6. Transfer the apple-cranberry filling to the pie shell and gently place the dough round over the pie and press the top and bottom crusts together to seal with crimped edges. Cut in a few slits in the center of the pie for the steam to release. Alternatively, cover the pie with dough cutouts.
7. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the granulated sugar and place the pie dish on the preheated baking sheet.
8. Bake until the crust is crisp and golden brown for 1 hour, covering the edges with aluminum foil if they become darker than the center.
9. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.