Cranberry pie. Is there a more perfect distillation of the Thanksgiving spirit than an entire pie packed with bright, tangy fruits who wait all year for this one Thursday in late November? It’s their time to shine - like the cranberry’s 21st birthday, New Year’s Eve, and Christmas all wrapped up in one extravaganza of eating. That’s what we have here, my friends. A pie that is aaaaalll about the cranberry, no shame in that game.
But first, let’s talk about perfection in an imperfect world. Wait a minute!? You thought this was a post about pie! Well it is in a way, because I almost didn’t post this pie. I had #piecrustissues, even after nearly 11 months of practicing, and I was dissapointed and more than a little frustrated not to be presenting a glorious specimen of pie craft worthy of a Martha Stewart dessert table. Unfortunately, somewhere during the blind-baking stage the edges puffed out and inflated all the carefully crimped and pressed edges beyond recognition. I blame an under-weighted pie and perhaps a slightly too cool oven. Either way, it’s pretty annoying to discover that several hours of preparation have yielded an underwhelming result.
I filled it with the ruby red cranberries anyway, dutifully pulsed the brown sugar-butter mixture into streusel and figured I’d just try again another time and skip a post for the week. Then as I thought about it, I realized that homemade pie, regardless of how wonky, is still something to be thankful for and appreciated! Even if it didn’t turn out as planned; my cranberry pie is still fruit and sugar and buttery crust – it’s what’s on the inside that counts and the effort it took to try in the first place.
So, here we are friends – thankful that there is pie in the world, but most importantly that there are family and friends to share it with. I hope that’s the case whereever you are too. Happy Thanksgiving!
For the similarly pie-challenged, may I offer this piece: "I Made Pie with Saveur's Food Editor and Here's What I Learned" by Marian Bull? If nothing else it’s very Zen and may help you and your dough relax.
Fresh Cranberry Pie with Pecan Crumble (yield: one 9-inch, standard pie)
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea or table salt
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup (60 ml) very cold water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed
1 egg (for egg wash)
5 cups (24 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 to 2 more tablespoons, if desired, to taste
3 teaspoons orange zest
2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cup rolled oats or 1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse or sea salt
3/4 cup pecans, preferably toasted
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Powdered sugar, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt to combine.
Add the diced butter, tossing the cubes in the flour to coat. Cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of walnut halves (for a flaky crust) or peas (for a mealy crust).
Make a well in the center, and add the water a few tablespoons at a time and mix with a rubber spatula just until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and chill well before rolling, forming, and baking.
When the dough is chilled and rested, roll out to about 10” round. Carefully ease the pie crust into a 9-inch standard (not deep dish) pie plate, making sure not to stretch the dough at all, or it will shrink as the pie bakes. Trim edge to fit and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, then place a piece of parchment paper over the pie crust. Cover the parchment with pie weight, dried beans, or uncooked rice making sure the weights extend up the sides.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until just lightly golden brown. Check the bottom through the glass.
Remove the pie weights and parchment and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
Reduce the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes until some of the cranberries have begun to break down and release some of their juices. Continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occassionally until the filling is loose and just pourable. Set aside off the heat and allow the filling to cool for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the crumble topping.
Place the whole oats in the bowl of a large food processor and grind them to a powder.
Next, add the toasted pecans and pulse until the mixture is a coarse meal. Add the remaining ingredients except the butter, pulsing a few times to loosely combine.
Pour the melted butter through the feed tube, pulsing until crumbles form.
Assemble, Bake, Serve:
Brush the par-baked pie crust with egg wash, then fill with the cranberry mixture. Sprinkle the streusel topping over cranberry filling in large crumbles.
Bake the pie for 45 to 50 minutes at 400 degrees F, until the berry juices are bubbling enough that they seep into the crumb topping.
If pie begins to brown too quickly, cover top with a piece of foil for remaining baking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.
Rewritten and slightly adapted from Deb Perelman’s Cranberry Pie with Thick Pecan Crumble via Smitten Kitchen.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, assuming you have a food processor or the patience to mince pecans. For the crust I used a large mixing bowl, pastry cutter, rubber spatula, a kitchen scale, liquid measuring cup, rolling pin, and chef’s knife. For the filling I used a medium sauce pan, microplane zester, rubber spatula, and measuring cups. To make the streusel I needed a large food processor and measuring cups.
TBD pending Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll report back!