I don't make pie very often (unless you count Chicken Pot Pie) because I have no natural stopping point for consuming what I eat. Still, once a year I allow myself to tackle the Apple-Cranberry recipe from Cook's Illustrated. (My hands-down FAVORITE cooking tool!!) This recipe is not particularly complex, but there are a ton of steps and the time to pull this recipe together is considerable. The pie process is best completed when you plan to hang around the house for several hours.
But don't let this scare you, the result is SO worth it!
Here's what you need:
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon for top of pie (I use granulated sugar for the pie and raw sugar for the topping)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 1/2 pounds apples (6 to 7 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see below)
- pie dough (I use store-bought, but feel free to make your own!)
- 1 egg white, beaten lightly
Bring cranberries, juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 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 jam-like consistency (wooden spoon scraped across bottom should leave clear trail that doesn’t fill in- just like in cranberry sauce recipe a few posts ago!). This usually takes 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in water, and cool to room temperature, about 30-40 minutes.Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in large microwave-safe bowl.
Core and peel the apples. If you like an EXTRA tart pie, use green apples (my first choice, but I LOVE tart!). Billy prefers the pie when I use sweet apples so on this occasion I made one of each (we were having a small group, so don't judge our gluttony!!). I always core the apples first to make peeling easier and safer for my fingers!
I also always use the food processor for slicing to make the process faster. Add apples to the sugar mixture 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. See below for an example. Cool to room temperature, about 30-40 minutes. You will be tempted to skip the cooling process. Since I was making two pies, I let one cool properly, but I short-changed the second pie. While the taste in the final result wasn't different, the uncooled apple pie overflowed in the cooking process and I got this mess!! Fair warning!!While fillings cool, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Put the pie dough in the pan; I use the deepest pie pan I have because I like to pile on the apples. Put the entire pan back in the fridge to chill while you wait for everything to cool. This is especially important if you make your own dough from scratch!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.Place second disk of dough on the pie. 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 white and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Using sharp paring knife, cut four 1 1/2-inch slits in top of dough in cross pattern.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. I always serve this pie a la mode because -- well -- just BECAUSE!Enjoy!!!