Whether or not you’re ready for it, the holiday season is coming (and fast!). It’s early November at the moment, and can you believe that they are already playing Christmas music on the radio? I’m not a hater when it comes to Christmas music, but at least wait until after Thanksgiving before forcing me to get into the Christmas spirit!
That’s enough of me being a scrooge. In reality, I do love the holiday season, and the best way to get into that lighthearted, holiday spirit is through smells and flavors. What flavors come to mind when you think of end-of-the-year holidays? You probably think of pumpkin or pumpkin spice, roasted chestnuts, cranberries, apples… there are a few other classic holiday flavors, but we’re going to be focusing on the last two: cranberries and apples (two of my favorite fruits).
When the weather starts turning into sweater or coat weather, being able to come home after a long day and sit down on the couch with a warm plate of pie is just like heaven. I am not an amazing baker, but baking a beautiful looking pie has always been on my wish-list.
If you have ever tried making a pie before, you know that making the crust is the hardest, trickiest part. After many tries and fails of pie crust making, I have finally found the perfect pie crust recipe. If you are a beginner baker, don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty with pie crusts. With this recipe, baking a pie will be as easy as pie…. sorry.
The pie that we’re going to be talking about is a Cranberry Apple Holiday Pie. First off, we have to get our fruits together. For the cranberries, any will work (frozen or fresh) as long as you have 3 cups of cranberries. If you use frozen cranberries, let them thaw before you start baking with them.
The apples require a little more thought. Since you want the pie to come out firm and sweet, you’ll need SOUR apples. Yes, sour apples in pies will work much better than sweet apples. You will be adding sugar and heat to your apples, which both add sweetness to the fruit, so using sweet apples can make the sweetness a little too overwhelming. Another plus about sour apples is that they are firmer than sweet apples and will hold up in the oven heat without becoming mushy.
What are the Best Apples for Baking?
Like we already mentioned, sour apples are the best for baking. Even though the cranberries are already giving the pie a sour kick, the sour apples will absorb the sugar very well and become a perfect amount of sour and sweet. Here’s a list of the best sour apples that we recommend for pie making:
- Granny Smith
- Pink Lady
These are just a few top suggestions, but any sour apples should work just fine. Don’t know what kind of apples you have at home but don’t want to go out and buy new ones? Just take a little bite or slice out of the apples you have and see how they land on the sweet-sour scale.
Other Needed Materials and Ingredients
For the 2 crusts you’ll need:
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour x2
- 1 tablespoon sugar x2
- ½ teaspoon salt x2
- 1 stick of butter (½ cup) x2
- ⅓ cup of cold water x2
- Whites from 1 egg for egg wash
For the filling you’ll need:
- 5 peeled and sliced apples.
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of allspice
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Lemon zest from ½ large lemon, or 1 small lemon
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Cranberry Apple Holiday Pie Recipe
Now that we have all the ingredients gathered, let’s get baking! Have fun with this recipe, and feel free to edit and change any part as you see fit. Make this recipe your own and enjoy.
Step 1: Start by making the crust. Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl and combine.
Step 2: Melt butter in a microwave-safe container for 30 seconds, then pour into the dry ingredients. With a mixer, combine the ingredients until the dough looks like crumbly peas.
Step 3: Pour in ice water and mix until fully combined. With your hands, gather up the dough into a ball. If it is too sticky, put a few pinches of flour on it and roll it in your hands until the dough is sticky, but not so sticky that it won’t stay in a ball shape.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 to make the top crust.
Step 5: Place dough ball onto plastic wrap and flatten into a disk shape, then wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1+ hours. You can leave it in there overnight.
Step 6: While the dough is setting in the fridge, you can start on the filling. First, you’ll need a large mixing bowl and a cutting board. Peel and cut each apple into thin slices. Keep the slices about ¼-½ a centimeter wide. If you want to cut the apples into chunks, that’s okay too, but slices usually look nicer.
Step 7: Add apples and cranberries to the bowl and stir until they are combined. Add in the rest of the ingredients: brown sugar, cornstarch, ground cinnamon, lemon zest, nutmeg, allspice, and vanilla extract. Mix until all the fruit is evenly coated.
Step 8: Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and take out the pie dough.
Step 9: Roll out the pie dough. Unwrap your dough disk so that one side is uncovered and the other side is still connected to the plastic wrap. On a floured surface, put the dough down with the covered side facing up. This way, you can use a rolling pin to flatten the dough without having to worry about the dough sticking to the rolling pin.
Step 10: Flatten your dough so that it is a circular shape large enough to be placed into your pie dish and still hang over the sides. To roll it out with the plastic wrap still on one side, you will need to lift the plastic wrap often so that the dough can spread out and not stick to the wrap. This may take a while, but it is better than having to continuously flour the rolling pin.
Step 11: Put your dough into the pie dish. Don’t take the plastic wrap off until the dough is in the pie dish. The plastic wrap helps hold the dough together, making it easier to move. Then remove the plastic wrap and fill the dough with the fruit mixture. Put in a few small cubes of butter for flavor and moisture.
Step 12: Create your top crust. You can make whatever top crust design that you want. I went with a lattice crust with a leaf design around the edge. I just looked at some pies on google images and got my design ideas that way. You can do the same. Make sure to take your time with this step! This is what everyone will see when they look at your pie, so make sure you put effort into it.
Step 13: Take the whites from your egg and lightly paint the crust with it. This will allow the crust to turn a beautiful golden brown when baking.
Step 14: Place the pie into the middle rack of the oven and cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and cook for another 30 minutes.
Step 15: When the pie filling is bubbling and the crust is browned, take the pie out and let cool. You can enjoy this pie hot, but it has to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Don’t be alarmed when the filling, after cooling, has lowered a few centimeters further down beneath the top crust. That is normal.
And there you have it: an easy holiday pie recipe for any level of baker. If you’re like me and have always wanted to be able to make a beautiful pie to impress friends and family, and to get everyone into the holiday spirit, this pie recipe will surely do the trick. Eat it with ice cream, whipped cream, or both for extra sweetness.