“Thanksgiving is a pie holiday,” I said. “Cake is for birthdays.”
“So you’re not making any cake?” he asked, in a voice so pathetic that I didn’t for one more moment doubt the presence of a cake on my Thanksgiving table. It’s his holiday too, after all.
And, since The Girl will be enjoying her favorite pumpkin pie, what else could I do but forgo the lovely dessert I was planning to make–this beautiful combination of apples and cranberries, the very definition of autumn’s bounty? (Temporarily, anyway. I bought a ginormous bag of cranberries at the grocery store last week, determined to make the most of their short season.)
I make this same pie with pears and blueberries in the summer. For your Thanksgiving table, though, it’s very much in keeping with the spirit of the autumn harvest. Since it’s a single-crust pie, prepared pie crust will suffice. Keep in mind, though, that making pie crust isn’t as difficult as kitchen lore would have you believe–and a home-made crust really does taste a lot better. What better time to give it a shot than over the holidays?
Update: My friend Lisa tried this pie for Thanksgiving, but she added some orange zest to the filling and made it a double-crust pie, rather than using the crumb topping. I’m going to try that version just as soon as I can bring myself to think about pie again.
Apple-Cranberry Pie with Crumb Topping
For the Filling:
5 cups apples, thinly sliced (one medium apple = about 1 cup of slices)
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stem
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 T tapioca or flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 T. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the Topping:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 T. butter
1/3 cup chopped pecans
If you're making your own pie crust, roll out half the dough and freeze the other half for another pie. If you're using prepared crust, let it come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Fit the pie crust into a deep 9-inch pie plate. Poke holes in the crust with a fork; pre-bake for 10 minutes, just until the crust looks dry and begins to puff. Let the crust cool completely before proceeding. (You can skip this step if you're pressed for time, but pre-baking ensures a crisp bottom crust. It really does make a difference.)
In a large bowl, combine the apples and cranberries. Add sugars, tapioca or flour, and cinnamon, then stir to distribute throughout the fruit. Let this mixture sit in the mixing bowl while you prepare the topping. The apples will start to release their juices and get just a little soupy, which is what you want.
Using a pastry blender, cut together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter. When the mixture resembles course crumbs, add the chopped pecans and stir to distribute throughout. Put this mixture in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
Pour the fruit mixture into the cooled pie crust. Dot with the small pieces of butter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the apples start to lose their shape a little bit. Then remove the pie from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the fruit and return the pie to the oven. Bake 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is nicely browned.