This Apple Cranberry Pie is a seasonal favourite in our house. The filling, of apples and cranberries, flavoured with orange liqueur, and the crunch of nutty pecans, all spiced with cinnamon and cardamom, is warm and festive and all winter cozy.
Every baker has a favourite pie apple, and a lot of them like to use a tart one, like a Granny Smith or a Pippin. I’m a big fan of Ambrosia apples, and although they are sweet as opposed to tart, that works beautifully in this pie because of the tartness of the cranberries. The Ambrosia also has a firm crispness that stands up well to baking.
I’m not a fan of hydrogenated vegetable shortening, so I make my pastry with butter. I’m going to be honest and admit, that no matter how many times I do it, pastry intimidates me. Pastry making has never been at the top of my list of favourite things to do in the kitchen. And you can probably tell by these photos, because I don’t even attempt to do any fancy crimping. This apple cranberry pie, however, makes up for its rustic appearance by the tender, flaky crust and absolutely delicious filling.
I think I have finally nailed it, after making this pastry again, and again. The secret of course, is keeping the butter from breaking down and incorporating into the dough. So it needs to be cold, and the dough needs to be worked as little as possible. You should still be able to see little hunks of butter. Those butter chunks melt and steam during baking, forming air pockets to give a light, flaky pastry.
I like to make a couple of pies ahead of time and freeze them. It’s great to have pies in the freezer to pull out for dessert or to bring to a gathering. So this pastry recipe makes enough for two double crust pies, although the actual pie recipe is just for one pie. You’ll have pastry for another double crust, or two single crust pies.
Now that I’m confident with my pastry, now maybe I can focus on my pie crust decor skills. Who knows, maybe the next pie recipe that you see from me will a little more fancy.
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups butter, chilled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 3/4 cup ice water, plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup orange brandy or liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 4-5 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (about 5 cups)
- juice of half a lemon (1-2 tbsp)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardomom
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 tbsp course sugar
- In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
- Using a pastry cutter, blend cold butter into flour until butter is in pea sized chunks
- whisk together egg, vinegar and ice water
- Add egg mixture to flour / butter mixture
- Stir quickly until dough pulls together enough to form a ball, using your hands if necessary, and adding more ice water if needed
- Shape dough into a log and divide into four even pieces
- Shape the dough pieces into rounded discs, and wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap.
- Chill in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours. You will need only two of the discs to make this pie, so if you aren't making another pie, the remaining two can be frozen for later use.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together cranberries, sugar, and orange brandy.
- Bring to a boil, and lower heat to a simmer, allowing to cook and thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a bowl, combine apple slices, pecans, flour, cinnamon, and cardamom.
- In a small bowl whisk egg yolk and cold water together
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Remove one pie dough from fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the disc quickly, working from the inside out, to form a circle about 2 inches larger than the pie pan, flipping over every few rolls, to keep dough from sticking.
- Drape the dough over the pie pan and pres into the pan lightly
- With a sharp knife, or kitchen scissors, trim the excess dough around the pan to about a one inch overhang.
- With your thumb, or a fork, press dough onto the rim of the pan, and roll the excess under to form a neat ridge.
- Fill the pie with the apple & nut mixture, spreading evenly, then pour the cranberry mixture evenly over the apples.
- Take the other disc of dough out of the fridge, and roll out, as above. Place evenly over pie, and crimp edges together on the rim with your thumb, or use a fork.
- Trim away excess dough with a sharp knife or scissors, and roll under.
- With a sharp knife, cut slits in top pie crust for steam to escape
- Brush top of pie with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake in center of oven about 20 minutes, until you see the top beginning to brown.
- Cover pie with a sheet of foil, and reduce oven temperature to 350. Bake 15 minutes, then remove foil.
- Bake a further 15 minutes, until crust is a deep, even golden colour, and the filling is bubbling.
- Allow pie to cool for about an hour to allow it to set before slicing.
After your pastry dough is mixed, you should be able to see chunks of butter. It's important to work quickly so that those chunks of butter don't melt.
When it's time to assemble your pie, leave the dough in the fridge until everything else is ready and the oven is pre-heated.
A tip: While the dough is chilling, put your pie pan and rolling pin in the fridge too, until ready to use.