I don't know about your family, but in mine pie is a staple at our holiday table. And I'm a little embarrassed to say I have been known to scrape the filling out of my piece, leaving behind a pastry skeleton on my dessert plate. Don't get me wrong, I'm a baker at heart and I love to make (and enjoy) sweet treats but there's just something about pastry that's not done quite right when it's soggy on the bottom, dry on the top, and it leaves that greasy film on the roof of your mouth...And it's for this reason that the thought of baking a pie from scratch can be downright intimidating, even for experienced bakers, because pastry is pretty easy to get wrong and because commercially made pie crusts are widely available at low prices and they just look so darn professional! Now, I'm not going to tell you that this is the best pie recipe in the world (because until I try every pie in the world I can't safely say that), but I will tell you that this is a fantastic recipe and I'm about to share some simple tricks to help you achieve a great homemade pie every single time.
And because it's fall, I thought I'd share a nice little twist on the traditional apple pie with this unbelievably delicious Cranberry Apple Pie. You won't even believe how amazing this tastes!! It's like mulled cranberry apple cider in pie-form. So good! You are going to love it!
I can't take credit for this recipe all on my own. Chef Anna Olson's pastry recipe is awesome and it's the one I've adapted here. It's never failed me! You can check it out here.
For the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold from the fridge and cut into chunks
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp lemon juice
For the filling:
8 apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
Flour for dusting and rolling
1 egg yolk
2 tsp water
2 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp turbinado sugar (coarse sugar)
The day before you plan to bake the pie is a great time to make your dough. Pie baking can seem overwhelming at first, but broken down into a 2-day process it becomes pretty simple. The dough needs time to refrigerate before rolling it out so this step is crucial if you're looking for rich, flaky pastry.
Add the flour, sugar and salt to a large bowl and whisk it together with a wire whisk to make sure the salt and sugar are distributed evenly throughout the flour.
Add the canola oil and mix it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it disappears. It will cause the flour mixture to become slightly crumbly.
Canola oil (or any vegetable oil) is a great addition to homemade pastry for 2 reasons: it creates a soft and lighter-textured crust and it makes the dough much easier to roll out and less susceptible to breakage or drying out.
Continuing to use your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture using quick motions where you flatten the pieces of butter between your hands as you slide your hands apart (one toward you, one away from you). The goal here is to handle the butter as little as possible because the heat from your hands will cause it to soften and even melt. It's ideal for the butter to remain cold and hard but be distributed throughout the flour mixture in small pieces. It's best to use your hands for this because thin sheets of butter cause flaky pastry. Pastry cutter tools don't create sheets of butter in the same way your hands do.
Continue to use your hands as you add the cold water and lemon juice to the bowl and mix these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using your hands at this stage is the best way to know exactly when the dough begins to form as the wet and dry ingredients combine so you can stop mixing. Remember: use your hands, but handle the dough as little as possible. Over-mixing leads to tough, dry, cake-y pie crust (yuck!).
Just as soon as the dough begins to form and the flour has almost disappeared, dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into two round disks. Wrap each disk of dough in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge to chill overnight. As you wrap them up, you should still be able to see chunks of butter in the dough. This is a GREAT thing! As the dough chills these chunks of butter will firm up and when you roll out the dough the next day they'll create deliciously flaky pastry.
The next day when you're ready to begin baking your pie, begin by preparing the filling first. Peel and slice your apples, chop the cranberries and add all the fruit to a large bowl. Add the sugars, the cornstarch, spices and the chunks of butter to the fruit and toss everything together with a wooden spoon until it's mixed thoroughly.
Adding cornstarch and butter chunks to your pie filling will create a deliciously thick and silky sauce around the fruit and it will help the filling stay together a little better when you cut into the pie. You'll still have that gorgeous juiciness oozing out of each slice, but it won't look like soup on your dessert plate.
Set the filling aside and preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grab the two disks of pie dough you put in the fridge yesterday. Flour your work surface lightly and unwrap the disks of dough, setting one of them aside for now. Holding your rolling pin in one hand, bang the disk of dough a few times, just until it appears to soften slightly. Add a touch more flour if you need to, and flour your rolling pin as well. Roll out the dough until it forms a circle that's about 13-inches in diameter. The key here is to roll a few times and then turn the dough a quarter turn, roll a little more and then turn it another quarter turn in the same direction. Continue this motion until the dough rolls out to the desired size.
Gently fold the dough in half and unfold it over the pie dish you'll be using. My dish is about 11.5 inches in diameter from edge to edge. Lightly press the dough into the bottom of the pie dish, helping the dough lay flat against the bottom and sides of the dish.
Sprinkle the rolled oats onto the bottom of the raw crust. This will prevent the dreaded soggy pie crust as the oats will absorb much of the liquid in the filling and form a barrier that stops the liquid from seeping into the bottom crust. And the best part is, the oats will completely disappear into your filling and no one will be the wiser!
Pour the apple and cranberry filling mixture into the pie dish, making sure you scrape out the bowl to get all those fruit juices into the pie. Don't press the filling down into the bottom of the dish - just let it sit gently, but try to make sure the fruit is evenly distributed and there aren't any giant pieces sticking up that would interfere with the upper crust.
In the same way you rolled out the first disk of dough, roll out the second to the same size and shape.
Fold it in half and drape it over the top of the filling. Go around the edges and trim any pieces that are very large and uneven, but leave a raw overhanging edge.
Once the raw edges are even, fold both the top and bottom piece of dough under just until the new clean edge reaches the edge of the pie dish. Continue folding all the way around the pie until your edge looks clean and even all the way around. This is a great way to take your pies to the next level, aesthetically speaking.
And to take it up even further, lightly lift the edge of the dough, pinching the bottom edge between your thumb and index finger while lightly pushing the index finger on your opposite hand toward those fingers. This will give you a slightly fluted edge, even if your pie dish isn't fluted.
Cut a medium-sized hole in the very centre of the upper crust. This is where the filling can vent while it bakes and it will prevent your crust from becoming misshapen as the heat from the oven causes the filling to release juices and steam. It's a good idea to cut little slits all around the pie as well for the same reasons. And it makes it look pretty, so there's that!
Combine an egg yolk and 2 tsp of water in a small dish and whisk them together. Using a pastry brush, brush on a SMALL amount of egg wash onto the top crust of the pie and around the edges. Don't overdo it! Cooked egg yolk on the top of a pie is never tasty. The idea is to brush a very light coating of the egg wash over every surface of the crust before it bakes. This will create a shiny finish and it will help the upper crust to brown perfectly and evenly in the oven.
Sprinkle a little bit of turbinado sugar (very coarse sugar) onto the top of the pie after you've brushed on the egg wash. This will create a beautiful finish on the upper crust, but it will also add a nice crunch and a beautiful texture to the pastry.
Bake your pie at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 Fahrenheit and bake for 45-50 minutes longer. Baking at a higher heat at first allows the crust to brown beautifully and baking at a lower heat afterwards allows the filling to cook evenly without the crust over-browning in the process.
It's also a great idea to bake your pie with a baking sheet on the rack below, just to catch any stray drips before they burn onto the bottom of your oven (been there, done that...more times than I'd care to admit!)
Remove the pie from the oven, and it should look just like this!!
Let it cool for at least an hour before you cut into it as this will help the juices thicken up and the filling stick together a little better.
Feel free to serve this pie with ice cream, but I think it's great all on its own.
Because of the addition of cranberries to this pie along with all the spices, when you take your first bite you will be overwhelmed with the sweetness of the apples and the sharpness of the cranberries. If you love mulled cranberry apple cider, you will LOVE this pie! The taste is so similar.
This pie cuts nicely into 12 large pieces, and each piece is only 11 Weight Watchers PointsPlus, making it a safe choice for a holiday treat. And if you divide the pie into 16 slices, each slice is only 8 PointsPlus.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Be sure to check out all the cranberry recipes from the other bloggers in this challenge that are linked below!!