Friday, November 18, 2011

Spiced Apple-Cranberry Pie


Thanksgiving is less than a week away...um, excuse me, what?  It's really already almost Thanksgiving?  No way.  This means that it's almost Christmas countdown season, which means that this year is practically over.  Woah.  That might be too much to handle at the moment.  This year went by way too quickly it seems...but I feel like we always say that, every single year.  It always seems to go by too fast.  But anyway.  Now that that realization has been made, let's focus on the fact that Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  Need a dessert?  Make this. Spiced Apple-Cranberry Pie...it'll knock your socks off. 

Seriously, it will.



I'm being totally serious, this pie is just really, really good. The crust is just perfect, and has a slight crunch to it from sprinkling on a little bit of granulated sugar right before baking, and the filling...it's just really good, trust me.  The apples are sweet and the cranberries add just enough of a tart flavor to balance out the sweetness.  Mmmm, sounds so delicious.   


I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to making pie, but the success of this pie has left me really wanting to make more, and learn new techniques.  I think I've found a pretty solid pie dough recipe, and every time I've made it, I've had really great results (I also used this recipe in my Peach Crumble Pie from wayyy back when!)  I always thought pie dough was really intimidating to prepare, but really, it's no more difficult than any other standard cookie dough, or anything for that matter.  It just takes a couple of attempts to get right, and once you know how to make pie dough, you're set!  As much as I loved the filling for this pie, I have to say the top crust, with its hint of crunchy sugary goodness was by far my favorite part.

Spiced Apple Cranberry Pie
recipe for filling from Williams Sonoma
recipe for crust from Food Everyday (July/August 2011)

For the Dough

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, diced and very well chilled
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons ice water (amount may vary)

For the Filling

3 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
10 oz fresh cranberries
1/4 cup water

1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

To make the dough, combine the butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor, and pulse to combine until the mixture begins to resemble a coarse meal. Begin to add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, adding just enough so that the dough begins to come together into a ball.  The amount of ice water you need to add may vary.  Once the dough has fully come together, turn it out onto a work surface, and divide in half.  Create two even disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour and a half. 


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one of the disks of dough into a 12-inch round that is about 1/8 inch thick.  Carefully transfer this round to a pie dish, and trim the edges.  On a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper, roll the remaining dough disk into a large round into another 12-inch round that is 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate the pie shell and dough round for 30 minutes. 

To create the apple-cranberry filling, in a Dutch oven or large pot, combine the apples, brown sugar, 1/4 cup of the white sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and cornstarch, and mix so that the apples are well coated.  Set the pot on the stove over medium heat, and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, remembering to stir occasionally. The apples should be slightly tender, but should not turn mushy (make sure your apples have been sliced into uniformly sized pieces, to ensure that they all cook evenly).  Remove from the heat, and add the lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Stir to combine, and let cool for 30 minutes. 


While the apples are cooking, combine the cranberries, water, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Set this over medium heat, and cook until the cranberries begin to break apart and the liquid begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.  Remember to stir occasionally. Let this mixture cool for 30 minutes.  Once cooled, add to the cooled apple mixture, and stir together to combine.

Remove the pie shell and dough round from the refrigerator, and allow to stand at room temperature for five minutes. Transfer the apple-cranberry mixture to the pie shell, and gently place the dough round on top of the filling.  Trim the edges of the dough so that they are flush with the edges of the pie dish.  Press the top and bottom crusts together to create a seal. 


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the entire surface of the crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.  Place the pie on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 1 hour, until the insides of the pie are bubbing, and the crust is crisp and golden brown in color.  


Once the pie has been baked, allow for it to cool at least 1 1/2 hours on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

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