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.
Which apple variety is best for pie?
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. And they are perfect. 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.
Butter vs Shortening Pastry for Pie
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.
Pastry 101, Passed
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.
Make Double the Dough, & Freeze for Pie Anytime
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 can easily be doubled to make enough for two double crust pies, and the dough can be frozen.
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. Maybe.
How to Make Apple Cranberry Pie
Fresh apples and cranberries, with pecans, cinnamon and cardamom in a buttery, flaky crust make this pie a delicious dessert.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, unsalted chilled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 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
Add ice water
- 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 two even pieces
- Shape the dough pieces into rounded discs, and wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap.
Chill in the fridge for an hour.
- 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.