apple | berries | cinnamon | cranberry | desserts | dough | holiday | orange | pie | recipe | seasonal | thanksgiving | traditional with a twist | unique | vanilla

Apple-cranberry pie.

November 23, 2015

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Apples for apple-cranberry pie.

Peeling apples for apple-cranberry pie.

As a food blogger and someone who just loves to eat in general, there are a few things I hear from people a lot. One is usually something like “How do you stay so skinny?” Now in my mind I am far from skinny, but also do people assume I eat every single thing I make in it’s entirety? And two, which really bothers me: “I don’t have time to do all that!”

Yes, yes you do.

Apple-cranberry pie; like apple pie with cranberry sauce!

I’m busy too. Trust me. I have a lot going on in my life. But it’s a matter of priority. Some people will always choose to drive through a fast food restaurant, others will make homemade hamburgers. That’s just the way it is. Some people won’t ever try to do it, so they won’t realize how it really doesn’t take 6 hours and it isn’t all that difficult. However, if I want something, I want to make sure its the best it can be. Sometimes, yes, I use shortcuts like frozen pie crust, and that’s okay. That is TOTALLY OKAY. But Jay can sniff out a frozen crust from a mile away- and he prefers homemade. So if I know I’m making a pie ahead of time (and not at 3 a.m. when I can’t sleep), I try to put aside extra time to make a homemade pie crust. Especially if it’s for a holiday dinner.

This pie was new for me, and I wanted to share it with you because it’s a great Thanksgiving pie. And Christmas pie, too, really. It’s like cranberry sauce and apple pie rolled into one. It’s dessert and a side dish. It’s totally unexpected. And it’s also adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, which I happen to trust immensely when it comes to recipes.

Apple-cranberry pie.

I hope you’ll try it this year for the holidays. Maybe you’ll come to love it so much, you’ll never buy a frozen crust or store-bought pie ever again. And yes… I continue my tradition of being horrible at folding pie crust.



Pie crust:
  • 15 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cold water
Pie filling:
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup sugar, divided, plus 1 tablespoon for top of pie
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • the caviar of one vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 1/2 lbs  sweet crisp apples (Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Braeburn), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (6 to 7 medium)
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly


    1. First, you’re gonna want to make the crust: This recipe will give you enough for the bottom and top to be fully covered. If you have a food processor, mix the dry ingredients and butter until just crumbly, then slowly pour in the water and mix until combined. Knead into a ball with your hands and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. You can also do this by hand, I highly recommend using a pastry cutter/blender if you do.
    2. Now it’s time for the filling:
  1. Bring cranberries, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, orange zest, 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 and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, vanilla bean caviar, 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 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.

Apple-cranberry pie.

It took me about 2 hours to make this pie in one afternoon. From start (making the crust) to finish (popping it in the oven). That’s not counting the bake time, of course. But it really was not complicated at all. And if you make the apple filling and cranberry filling Tuesday night, and make the dough in the morning on Wednesday, then the night before Thanksgiving, you can have this pie completed- and in no time. Really. I tell no lies.

Now, like I said above, I am not a pie snob. I’m not a baking snob in general. I realize that not everyone can afford certain things, like organic vanilla beans and the best quality grass-fed cow’s milk butter and that baking should be fun and accessible to everyone. But let me say this: if you want to make the BEST pie crust you’ll ever eat, use Kerrygold butter. The high butterfat content makes the flakiest, tastiest pie crust in the world. This isn’t an ad, and I’m not just biased because I’m Irish. It really makes amazing crust. And yes, it now comes in regular sticks.

Apple-cranberry pie: apple pie with a layer of cranberry sauce.

So this year, skip the cranberry sauce and make some pumpkin applesauce instead; then serve this pie afterwards. Surprise everyone and give them their cranberry sauce with dessert!

(Pssst… I don’t see why you couldn’t mix the cranberry sauce with the apples once they’re both all cooked if that’s what you prefer.)

Apple-cranberry pie.

Soundtrack: “I Can’t Give You Anything But” – Django Reinhardt
Sources & Credits: Clear 9 1/2″ Pyrex pie plate; Target, red apple bowl; vintage 1940’s Pyrex, small “knit” bowl; made by Hallmark (was a gift), red & white tea towel; Ikea.
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