M. Andrew Gordon

Cranberry Pie…with no sidekicks

In Baked Goods, Desserts, Pies on December 26, 2009 at 9:52 am

It is probably not surprising to anyone who has followed this fledgling food-blog or to anyone who knows me that I have an unabashed love for cranberries (they do, after all, pay my bills).  I will stop my soliloquy on the merits of the cranberry here before I can get on a roll.

One of the long-standing problems of cranberries as a fruit is that they seem to need a sidekick.  There is cranberry-apple pie and cranberry-orange relish; cranberry-blueberry muffins and cranberry-pomegranate compote; cranberry-pineapple salad and cranberry-pumpkin bread; cranberry-pear galette and cranberry-avocado salsa; cranberry-banana bread and cranberry-quince chutney!  Enough, I say!  Today, the cranberry will stand alone!

I have actually been interested in making a cranberry pie for some time and finally got around to it for Christmas Eve.  I had visions of a double-crust pie stacked with nothing but cranberries that would be just sweet enough to cut the inherent tartness of the cranberries.  For the sweetener, I decided I would try using nothing but honey because it seemed a good fit for the otherwise pure filling I was planning on.  My one concession to the cranberry’s tart character was adding some measure of sweetened-dried cranberries, but as this is still essentially cranberries, I decided it would not violate my goal of creating a Cranberry Pie sans any loony sidekicks.

The end result was a beautiful looking pie that held its shape remarkably well.  I filled the pie with a 5:1:1 ratio of fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, and honey.  Some comments at the table suggested that the pie was a little too tart (I, however, like most pies less sweet and really enjoyed this).  If you’re thinking this might be a touch too tart for you, I think a 4:2:1 ratio would work very well and be sweeter.  I used my usual all butter pie crust recipe for this, but of course, feel free to substitute whatever pie crust you like.  And finally, because I can never let a whipped cream be made without somehow tinkering with it, I wound up tossing in a couple of teaspoons of orange zest which lent the cream a nice citrus kick.  I guess maybe sometimes there is a need for a sidekick…

Cranberry Pie

For the dough:

  • 2- ½ cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 to 7 tablespoons ice water or more, if needed

For the filling:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sweetened-dried cranberries

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 pint whipping or heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectionary sugar
  1. Make the dough.  Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add butter and pulse again until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add the water a few tablespoons at a time and pulse to combine.  When the dough is together, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.  Separate into two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Combine honey and spices in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until honey becomes thin and spices are incorporated.  In a large bowl, combine both types of cranberries.
  3. Roll out one disk of dough until thin and large enough to fit into a pie dish.  Fit and trim to leave about one inch around the edge of the dish.  Roll out the other disk and reserve.  Pour honey over cranberries and stir to mix well.  Pour cranberries into dish and place second piece of dough on top.  Trim and pinch and fold the edges to seal.  Make several cuts across the top to allow steam to escape.  Brush dough with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake pie for 75 minutes.  Let cool on rack.  Combine whipped cream, orange zest, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and beat at medium speed.  While machine is running, add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Serve with pie.
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  1. […] year I made an all cranberry pie that I thought was spectacular.  The reviews, however, were mixed.  Mostly they were split into […]

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