I’ve set out on the very serious task of brainstorming ALL of the Thanksgiving pies. Good reason. I’m preparing the welcome most ALL of my family to New Orleans for Thanksgiving. There will be no turkey in my oven. There will be no stuffing. Green beans and cranberry sauce are a major maybe.
There will be a tremendous amount of gumbo and an equally tremendous amount of pie, Apple Cranberry among them.
In addition to a bounty of gumbo and pie, I’m also prepared for a week full of (ohhh gosh) family fun with a detailed week-long itinerary, a bull horn, a few bottles of bourbon, and a whistle. I mean… right?
Grab your apples. Grab your cranberries. We’re here to smash bang.
I used to varieties of apples for this pie. Variety is nice for flavor and texture. Honey Crisp (aka the best apple in the world) for it’s sweet side. Granny Smith for it’s sour kick and firm texture.
Peel and slice like a boss.
Apples are combined with lemon juice, granulated sugar, brown sugar, spices, and salt.
Toss all the way. All the spices and all the sweet onto the apples coating them both evenly and generously.
Now for the extra step that separates the men from the boys… the great apple pies from the good apple pies.
Place the lemony, sugary spiced apples slices in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. The lemon and sugar will help the apples release some of their juices into the bottom of the bowl. After about 30 minutes you’ll have a mixture of apple juice with sugar and spice. We have grand plans for this juice. Bigtime.
Collect the juice from the apple slices and bring it to a simmer in a small pot with a pat of butter. The mixture will thicken and concentrate as it cooked down.
Essentially, we’re creating a spiced apple caramel, concentrating the flavors and adding it all back to the sliced apples.
While the apple caramel cooks down, toss together cranberries, cornstarch, and the apples!
Cornstarch is our thickener that will come to a simmer in the oven with the fruit and thicken the juices inside the pie shell.
Fruit with cornstarch tossed in the buttery caramel from the apples.
This pie bakes up bubbling and golden. It comes out of the oven boiling, sweet and juicy.
The cranberries soften and burst in the oven and the apples cook through. The cranberries offer a tart bite to this pie while the apples and brown sugar crumble lend the sweetness. It’s bright, and sweet and wonderfully satisfying.
Consider an extra sprinkling of salt for the crumble AND consider serving this pie topped with vanilla ice cream. It’s the right thing to do. Happy Holiday!
Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie
For the Crust:
- 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk plus 2 to 3 tablespoons more if your dough is dry
For the Filling:
- about 2 lbs apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick. I used a combination of Granny Smith and Honey Crisp (about 5 apples)
- 1 heaping cup fresh cranberries
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 – 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably fresh grated
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the Crumble:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped salted pistachios
- * This pie crust recipe makes a top and bottom crust, but we'll only need one bottom crust. Just wrap and freeze the other disk of dough for future use!
- To Make the Crust: To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas.
- Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. We'll only need one disk of dough for this recipe. The other can be wrapped well and frozen.
- To assemble the pie, remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round. Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface. The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok.
- Try not to get any tears in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough. When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore. Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in a deep 9-inch round pie dish. Place in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filing.
- To Make the Filling: In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss to mix. Place the apples in a fine mesh strainer set over the large bowl. Allow the apples to macerate at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.
- The mixture will release at least 1/2 cup of liquid.
- In a small saucepan over medium high heat, boil down this liquid, with the butter, to about 1/3 cup (a little more if you started with more than 1/2 cup of liquid), or until syrupy and lightly caramelized. Meanwhile, transfer the apples and cranberries to a bowl and toss them with the cornstarch until all traces of it have disappeared.
- Pour the syrup over the apples, tossing gently (Do not be concerned if the liquid hardens on contact with the apples and cranberries; it will dissolve during baking.)
- Transfer the apple and cranberry mixture to the pie shell.
- To make the Crumble: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, oats, spices, and salt. Add the butter and toss the mixture together with your hands. Break the butter up into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small pebbles and oat flakes. This took me about 4 minutes. Toss in the pistachios.
- Sprinkle the crumble over the apple and cranberry mixture. Try to cover the apples completely or they can burn in the oven. Place in the refrigerator to chill while the oven preheats.
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pie of a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, until the edges bubble and the apples are cooked through.
- Allow to cool for at least an hour before serving. Serve with ice cream and coffee! Enjoy!