As much as I love pie, I’ve never been big on apple. Give me raspberry, pecan, key lime or blueberry cream over apple any day. But as I was clicking through a fall pie slideshow on Epicurious.com, this pie caught my eye. It isn’t the typical chunks-of-apple-with-too-much-cinnamon-inside-two-dry-crusts pie. The apples are thinly sliced and piled high, plus there is a layer of cranberry sauce inside. I thought I should at least try it.
Just an FYI — 100% cranberry juice is a zillion times cheaper at Trader Joe’s than Whole Foods. If you can’t find it anywhere, you can use some other kind of cranberry juice, but don’t use as much sugar in the cranberry ribbon.
This was actually the second time I baked an apple pie. The first time was about four years ago. It’s kind of a long/dumb story, but basically the guys at the Camp Lejeune base public affairs office wanted an apple pie, so I thought I would bake one from scratch. I spent forever peeling and chopping apples (which is why I now own an apple corer/slicer) and managed to cut my finger in the process. Then I took the pie over to base and… no one even cut a slice while I was there. They just said, “Thanks,” and put it in the break room.
Since I didn’t get to taste the pie, I asked the guys to tell me how it was so I would know whether I should use the recipe again. Apparently it wasn’t very good, because the only thing I ever heard was, “Oh, thanks.”
I am going to go out on a limb and say you will hear more than a half-hearted “thanks” if you give this pie to someone. The combination of apple and cranberry is really yummy and Thanksgiving-y. Plus, it’s not too sweet and it looks pretty.
Even though I’ve had issues with pie crust in the past, I decided to go ahead and use the basic pie crust recipe that was included with the pie. Amazingly enough, it turned out really well.
Of course, there was the problem of pie juice dripping out of the pie dish and onto the oven floor. But the bottom crust wasn’t too soggy. I did put the pie dish on the floor of the oven at first, so that may have helped.
I actually used one apple less than what the recipe calls for (I weighed them when I bought them, so I don’t know how much that one apple weighed). But that was just because I got sick of peeling and slicing them. If you have a deep-dish pie plate (and more patience than me), you should definitely try to use all the apples.
Seriously, what is my problem with pie edges? All those tutorials and photos make it look so easy, but my attempts at scalloped edges are always a disaster. Sigh. Maybe one day. (Also, I would recommend sprinkling the cinnamon gently on top of the pie instead of attacking it in the middle)
You’d better add some vanilla ice cream to your shopping list.
Apple-cranberry pie (Adapted from Epicurious.com)
Pie crust (recipe below, or use your own)
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup 100% cranberry juice
2 cups cranberries (about 8 ounces)
2 pounds Granny Smith apples
1 3/4 pounds Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Stir 3/4 cup sugar and juice in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cranberries and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has absorbed, about 25 minutes. Cool.
Peel, core and thinly slice all the apples. (I used an apple corer/slicer, but then I cut each slice into 3-5 thinner slices). Combine the apple slices with flour, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl to stir.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Roll out one pie dough disk on a floured surface to a circle about 13 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer (I like to roll it up on the rolling pin and then unroll it over the pie plate) to a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie dish. Gently adjust the pie dough so it covers the bottom and sides of the pie dish without being stretched.
Spread the cranberry mixture over the crust, then top with the apple mixture and dot with butter cubes.
Roll out the second dough disk and drape it over the apples. Press the edges of the crusts together to seal and trim off excess. Cut a 1-inch hole in the center of the top crust, then sprinkle remaining tablespoon of sugar and pinch of cinnamon over the top.
Bake pie on the oven floor for 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 375 F and move pie up to middle rack (with a rimmed baking sheet underneath to catch the dripping juices). Bake pie until crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Move to a rack to cool for at least 2 hours. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Pie crust (makes enough for this two-crust pie)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or pastry flour, or a combination of both)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
6 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Cut the butter into small cubes. Blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the butter pieces are distributed and are the size of small peas.
Add 3 tablespoons of water and pulse mixture a few times, until moist clumps form. Add more water a little at a time if dough is too dry.
Gather the dough into two balls and flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.