Apple-Cranberry Pie

Dear World,

 

Today I will tell you about pie, specifically, fruit pie. Even more specifically, I will tell you how to make apple-cranberry pie. This is a really, really good pie. Especially for Thanksgiving, which, incidentally, just happened…conveniently before I got around to posting this. I was going to say you could make this pie for Thanksgiving, and I guess you still can, you just have to wait a year. Anyways, here are some reasons to make this pie.

 

  1. The crust is flaky and buttery and guaranteed to take, like, 3 years off your life.
  2. The cranberries in the filling help cut the sweetness of the apples, providing a whole new level of flavorful complexity to what would otherwise just be a very, very good apple pie.
  3. The apples themselves are cooked in the microwave, and they are still delicious, and this will blow your mind when you eat the pie.
  4. The filling isn’t runny.

 

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OK, with that out of the way, here are some tips for making the recipe, adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook.

 

Crust:

So here’s the deal. This recipe is all about making the flakiest crust possible. While the original recipe insists that you need to use a food processor to make the crust, I think it’s good to do it by hand because you can get a more uneven distribution of butter in the dough which makes for a really flaky crust. Also, the original recipe uses both butter and shortening, but I just replace the shortening with more butter. This makes for better flavor, but does make the dough sort of unwieldy. As such, it is supremely important that you chill everything that goes into the crust. Seriously, even the flour (I would skip chilling the salt and sugar, just because there isn’t very much of either in the recipe.) Also, this recipe calls for vodka which evaporates out of the crust while it bakes and makes the crust, you guessed it, even flakier. The vodka is completely flavorless, and I think it really helps, but you can definitely just replace it with more ice water.

 

Filling:

This filling is basically a layer of cranberry filling at the bottom of the pie, topped with apple filling. I’ve had really good luck with this recipe. It tasted good and wasn’t runny or goopy. Overall, it’s just super solid (as a recipe, of course, not as a filling consistency. That would be icky.)

 

So that’s basically it. Hopefully the instructions are clear. Please comment if you have any questions, suggestions, thoughts, opinions, pictures of you eating the pie, etc. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Apple Cranberry Pie

From: Theresa Kaplan, adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

    For Crust:

    • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, chilled
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 20 tablespoons butter (5 sticks), frozen and cut into .25 inch pieces (alternatively, 12 tablespoons butter and 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, also frozen)
    • ¼ cup vodka, chilled
    • ¼ cup ice water

    For Filling:

    • 8 ounces (2 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup water
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 3 ½ pounds Golden Delicious Apples
    • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

    Directions:

      For Crust:

      1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter.
      2. Incorporate the butter by picking up handfuls of the dough and rubbing it between your fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl. Do this until the butter is evenly distributed in small clumps and there is no more loose flour mixture.
      3. Sprinkle in vodka and ice water. Continue the above mixing process until the dough starts to come together. (You might not need all the liquid; you don’t want your dough to be any wetter than it needs to be to just stick together.)
      4. Gather the dough up and divide it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten the dough into disks, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for an hour or more.

      For Filling:

      1. In a medium saucepan, boil the cranberries, orange juice, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, mashing up berries a bit as you go, until the mixture forms a jam-like consistency, and a spoon dragged along the bottom of the pot leaves a line that doesn’t fill in immediately. This should be around 10-12 minutes.
      2. Remove from heat and stir in water. Let the mixture cool until room temperature, about 30 minutes (the filling can now be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
      3. While the cranberries are cooking and chilling, mix ½ cup sugar, the remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in a large bowl.
      4. Peel, core, and cut the apples into ¼ inch slices. Add the apples to the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch mixture, and toss to coat.
      5. Cover and microwave the apples for 10-14 minutes until the apples begin to turn translucent and the liquid is thick and glossy. Be sure to stir the mixture every 3 or 4 minutes as it cooks. Cool the apple mixture to room temperature, about 30 minutes. At this point the apples can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

      Assembly:

      1. While the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 425˚. Be sure to place a baking sheet on a rack below the one you intend to cook the pie on to catch any dripping.
      2. Roll out the larger piece of dough into a 12 inch circle on a well floured surface. Loosely roll the dough over the rolling pin and then ease it into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover the crust loosely and chill for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      3. Roll out the smaller piece of dough into a 12 inch circle. Wrap it and chill it for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      4. Unwrap the dough and spread the cranberry mixture in the bottom of the pie. Cover it with the apples, mounding them in the middle. Roll the second disk of pie dough loosely over the rolling pin and ease it over the pie. Pinch together the edges of the crust and trim any excess from around the edge of the pie plate.
      5. Cut 4 2-inch slits in the top crust and brush it with the egg white. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the crust.
      6. Place pie in oven over the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until the crust is light brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚, and rotate the pie. Continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Let the pie cool for around 2 hours on a wire rack.
      7. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving

      Few will admit this, but preparing Thanksgiving dinner stresses people out. We are living with non-stop information overload and everywhere online, on television, and on billboards we see pictures of that annoying perfect turkey with all the flawless trimming and a relaxed happy host just waiting for their guests to arrive. Nope! We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, but it’s hard not to feel a little judged because, well, you probably are being judged kind of a little, or maybe even a lot depending who is coming.  It’s like going to the hairdresser. Why we care what people think of our hair I’ll never know, but we often do!

       

      EditedFigTart2

       

      So when WTIC Fox News Connecticut asked me to do a Thanksgiving cooking extravaganza for the next eight weekdays in a row starting today, I jumped at the chance to show viewers and our blog friends just how satisfying and easy it can be to host Thanksgiving (Ironically, I’m not hosting this year, but that’s okay because after this series my family will have had about a dozen trial turkey day dinners!). Each day, I will share the recipes and the videos with you, and give you clever ideas meant take the stress out of the day (don’t carve the turkey where people can see you).
      Editedkithenset

       

      We’ll start with appetizers, starters, side dishes and dessert, and work our way up to taking the fear out of carving and what to do with all that turkey meat come day three of leftovers when major boredom sets in.

       

       

      EditedSoup1

       

      Yesterday, we made Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots and Fig Goat Cheese Caramelized Shallot Squares made with puff pastry. These recipes are both huge crowd pleasers and don’t require a ton of time or skill. Watch today’s video to learn how to make these winner recipes as well  (http://foxct.com/2013/11/18/try-a-new-thanksgiving-side-dish/)

       

       

      Also, we’d also love to hear about your Thanksgiving success and disasters (especially if they’re funny.  What are your favorite and worst Thanksgiving memories?

       

       

       

      Fig Goat, Cheese, and Caramelized Shallot Squares

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1 ready-made defrosted puff pastry sheet
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
      • 2 ½ cups of thinly sliced shallots (4 large shallots, or 6 small ones)
      • ½ teaspoon salt
      • 12-14 whole dried figs (3 ounces)
      • 3 teaspoons honey
      • 5-6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
      • ¼ cup coarsely ground walnuts (optional)

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
      2. Roll out the puff pastry to a 10 X 13 rectangle. Poke a few holes in pastry with a fork (so it doesn’t puff up while baking.)
      3. Pre-bake the puff pastry until it is just slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
      4. In the meantime, melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the shallots.
      5. Cook the shallots on medium heat until they are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently, especially if you are not using a non-stick pan.
      6. Add the salt, and season to taste with pepper. Set aside.
      7. Place dried figs in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry figs.
      8. Slice figs 1/8 inch thick, and then coarsely chop them (you should have ½ cup of sliced figs). Mix with honey and set aside
      9. Spread the shallot mixture evenly over the pre-baked pastry.
      10. Sprinkle the goat cheese, followed by the figs and the walnuts.
      11. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese starts to bubble, about 15-20 minutes.
      12. Let cool and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

      Crispy Shallots

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 2 ½ cups sliced shallots (6-12 shallots, depending on size)

      Directions:

      1. Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble.
      2. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots.
      3. Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes (add more oil if the shallots start to burn) stirring frequently.
      4. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Pat down to remove excess oil. Once the excess oil is absorbed, place the shallots in an airtight container and use to garnish soups, vegetables, potatoes, and sandwiches.

      Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 tablespoons canola oil
      • 2 cups leeks, chopped
      • 1/3 cup shallots, chopped
      • 2 1/2 cups fresh butternut squash cut in 1-inch cubes
      • 1 can pure organic pumpkin puree (no sugar added)
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
      • 1 tablespoon cane sugar
      • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger finely minced
      • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
      • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
      • 1 Bartlett pear, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
      • 5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
      • 1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
      • 4-5 tablespoons crispy shallots (see recipe below)
      • 1/3 pound pancetta, sliced thin (optional)

      Directions:

      1. Heat canola oil in a 6-8 quart pot. Sautee shallots and leeks over medium heat until they are soft and glassy, but not yet brown, about 5 minutes.
      2. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes.
      3. Add the pumpkin puree and stir well.
      4. Add salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for one minute.
      5. Add the pear and broth and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is hot, turn down the heat to a steady simmer on a low-medium flame. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pears and squash are soft.
      6. Puree in a food processor, or with an immersion blender (you may also use a blender, but be sure to let the soup cool to lukewarm first).
      7. Add sour cream and mix well.
      8. Fry pancetta (optional) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, until crisp, and pat between two towels to absorb grease.
      9. Serve with crispy shallots and/or crumbled pancetta on top.

      Baking with Oma: Apfelkuchen

      I probably shouldn’t, but I’m just going to say it. I am not a baker. I can fake it, but it isn’t my thing. Okay, I said it. I feel better.

       

      My mom, known as Oma to the girls, came over this week to start teaching us her time honored yeast cakes, tarts, and strudels. We’ve been meaning to pick her brain for a few years and I kid her all the time when I say we need to get these recipes on paper before she gets too old. I can say this because my mom at 78 is totally youthful and awesome, and has all her marbles. Lucky girl.

       

      Cake1

       

      Gabrielle has been dying to learn Oma’s chocolate yeast cake, an absolute must every Easter and Christmas morning at our house. She labored for several hours and of course it was perfect. Gabrielle, you might guess, loves to bake. She was smiling from ear to ear with when her creation came out of the oven. [Edit from Gabrielle – it was, in fact, perfect. Read post here!] I decided to make another venerable favorite – a German cake made with tart dough, but baked in a rectangular form. The dough recipe was in German so that meant translating the directions and measurements, which Oma faithfully did. We were doubling a basic recipe and adding new ingredients that have been added over the years. I unfortunately did the conversions from grams. Big mistake. It seemed like it was going well until I took the dough out of the fridge after the compulsory “resting” phase, and tried to roll it out. It seemed very moist, which it was because I forget to double the flour! You can’t do that baking. If a savory recipe calls for 4 cloves of garlic and you only add two, oh well. If you don’t double the flour in a cake, it’s a disaster. Lesson learned, new bakers, you can’t really add 2 more cups of flour after the “resting” phase.

       

      cake3

       

      And that is why I like to cook so much more. I can make mistakes and no one will know. In fact, mistakes often make dishes better, but more on that another day. My mother refused to give up on the dough. We DO NOT waste ingredients, she said. So she worked her magic and somehow added the missing flour to the finished dough. I don’t know how she did it, but the cake was very good and it didn’t get all weird and gluten-y, which is supposed to happen when you overwork dough. So here is the Correct recipe and the final product, a delicious cake, with almost perfect texture (firm but a bit crumbly) and the just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar. Mutti, you’re a genius.

       
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      Below you’ll find my mothers perfect recipe, free from my silly mistakes! Let us know if you decide to make it! And do you have any time honored family traditions? Tell us about them below!

       

       

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      Oma’s German Apple Cake

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 cups (250 grams) flour
      • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250) grams unsalted butter
      • 6 tablespoons sugar
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2 eggs lightly whisked
      • Pinch salt
      • 4 Granny Smith apples cored and peeled
      • Scant ¼ cup plain bread crumbs
      • 3-4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

      Directions:

      1. Place the butter in the freezer for a least one hour before.
      2. Cut the butter in one-inch slices.
      3. Place flour in a large bowl. Add butter and sugar.
      4. Using a pastry blender or food processor, blend until mixture is crumbly and much of the dough is in pea size pieces.
      5. Add the vanilla, eggs and a pinch of salt. Mix until just well blended.
      6. Divide the dough in half and roll each into a ball. Flatten the ball to create a disc and wrap them each in wax paper or plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
      7. Slice the apples 1/8 inch thick, preferably using a mandolin so all the pieces are the same size. Set aside.
      8. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out both halves to fit a 13 X 9 pan, preferably with a one-inch rim.
      9. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly on the bottom of the pan.
      10. Add the apples, being sure to evenly distribute them on the bottom of the pan.
      11. Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples.
      12. Take the second rolled out dough and carefully place it on top of the apples. Tuck in the dough on all the sides so an even crust will form.
      13. Bake for 30 minutes, or until brown. Let cool in pan and cut into squares.
      14. Serve with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

      Pie Squared

      Ever since the macarons, which sort of represent an excess of streamline and precision, I’ve felt a need to kind of make up for it with something you might actually want to make. I mean, let’s be honest: it’s summer time, the living is easy, why should our sweets be so hard? Besides, last week, my sisters and I ate a half gallon of blueberries that were so good that Francesca has sworn off sweets for the rest of the summer. And they weren’t even from the farmers market.

      In wax paper, served with Yumberry Punch in an old milk jar. Seriously, why even bother otherwise? (Just kidding).

       

      When even Costco’s blueberries take on a sort of magical flavor, you know the time has come to leave delicate pastries and (dare I say) even chocolate behind us, and let summer’s bounty speak (mostly) for itself. And so, when I was flipping through this month’s Bon Appétit and saw a recipe for portable, hand-held “pies,” I was inspired. The only thing in the whole world I like better than pie, is food I can eat with my hands. For as long as I can remember, my vacations have been filled with forkless indulgences – pizza from Pepe’s, burgers with crispy cheese from the Shady Glen Diner, and black cherry vanilla ice cream cones from Pralines. Summer is a time to relax and have fun, not a time to wrestle with those super pesky knives and forks (I mean seriously, you have to wash them and everything…). So not only is a hand pie the ultimate food, it’s about as seasonal as you can possibly get.

       

       

       

      These days, pie is my favorite dessert, but for a long time there was only one pie in the world I would eat, and that was my mother’s blueberry-lime pie, known affectionately in our house as The Best Blueberry Pie Ever. She found the recipe years ago in an old newspaper clipping, which itself cited another newspaper clipping. It’s simplicity perfected – graham cracker crust, mounds of homemade whipped cream, and blueberry-lime filling on top. She’d make it after our  trips to Lyman Orchards, and back in the days when I shunned apple, peach, pecan, key lime and strawberry rhubarb, there was always a place in my heart (and my stomach) for an extra piece of this pie.  I still do shun all other blueberry pies, because nothing compares to this.

       


       

       

      And so I took the hand pie, and filled it with my best childhood memories. These are ridiculously simple to make. You simply prepare the filling, and roll out store-bought puff pastry while it cools. Cut the puff pastry into nine pieces, place filling on each, and fold them over. Cut designs on each of them (extra points for creativity)…

       

       

       

      Sprinkle them with raw sugar…

       

      Yes I swiped this from starbucks. I fully expect you to do the same ;)

       

      Chill, and bake. That’s it! And unlike some recipes we know, these need no explanation other than the recipe below. Also, with all these Independence Day picnics coming up, I hope you do realize that these are blue on the inside, and that they are positively heavenly with whipped cream and strawberries. Just saying.

       

      Happy 4th of July! And as always, Happy Baking.

       

       

      Blueberry Lime Hand Pies

      From: Adapted from Bon Appétit, July, 2011 and an old, long lost newspaper clipping

      Ingredients:

        Filling

        • 1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons sugar
        • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
        • 1/8 teaspoon salt
        • grated peel of one lime
        • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
        • 1/4-1/2 cup water
        • 2 pints (1 quart) fresh blueberries, rinsed

        Pies

        • 1 14-17 oz package of puff pastry (preferably Pepperidge Farms), thawed in refrigerator
        • 1 egg white
        • 1 tablespoon water
        • 1.5 teaspoons (or about 2-3 packets) raw sugar

        Directions:

        1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, lime peel, lime juice, and 1/4 cup water.
        2. Add 2 cups of blueberries and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, and blueberries are softened, about four minutes. If mixture is thick before it turns dark purple, add the other 1/4 cup of water. Your kitchen should be smelling like my childhood right about now.
        3. Remove from heat and stir in remaining blueberries. Let chill for 15 minutes.
        4. Flour a baking surface, and roll out puff pastry into a 15 x 18 in rectangle. Pepperidge Farm comes in two sheets, so be sure to lay them down next to each other and roll them into one sheet. You’ll create a small seem, but that doesn’t matter because you’re going to fold it over there anyway.
        5. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut rectangle into 3 columns and 3 rows, creating 9 5×6 in rectangles.
        6. Combine egg white with 1 tablespoon water together, and, working with one at a time, brush the edges (approx. .75-1 inch wide) of  a rectangle with the egg wash. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of blueberry filling on one end, and fold over the other side, so edges meet. Seal edges by crimping with a fork, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat for the rest of the rectangles. If you have leftover blueberries after this, just eat them with whipped cream or ice cream, or waffles, or whatever you want.
        7. Make a few cuts on the top of the pies, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375°F (or 350°F on convection).
        8. Brush with remaining egg wash, and sprinkle with raw sugar.
        9. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.
        10. Cool on sheet for 10 minutes, and then on baking rack.
        11. Serve with whipped cream, strawberries, or nothing at all. Enjoy!