Friday, January 7, 2011

Recipe: Cranberry Cream Pie

Assuming there are any faithful readers out there, I'm letting you down.  I haven't posted the recipe for the Christmas pie, nor have I given the instructions for the really good horseradish sauce I made for the roast beef, etc., etc.  I promise to try to catch up.  So herewith is the cranberry pie.  This is adapted from one given to me by Jacob Herbert, who in turn got it from his great aunt Mina.

Photo courtesy of Miriam Schildkret

6 c. cranberries, pulsed a few times in the food processor to chop VERY roughly 
2 c. sugar
3 T. each flour and cornstarch
1 t. cinnamon
pinch of salt
zest of one large navel orange
1-2/3 c. whipping cream
1 unbaked deep dish pie crust (see below)

Preheat the oven to 450* F.

Combine the cranberries with the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Scoop this into a deep-dish pie pan (preferably glass) that has been lined with pie dough.  Add cream to come just below the surface of the berries.

VERY QUICKLY (or the bottom crust will get too soggy), make a lattice top for the pie.  Brush it with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Put the pie in the oven and reduce the heat to 425*.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350* and bake another 45 minutes more, until the filling is bubbly and the crust is browned.

Photo courtesy of Miriam Schildkret
Cool and serve.  (Serving notes:  I do not recommend reheating the pie:  the filling will turn runny, as I learned from bitter experience at Christmas!  --It was great the next day.  You could serve this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you want, though this is one fruit pie that I can enjoy without ice cream.)


Here is the formula I generally use for a 2-crust pie like this one.

2-1/2 c. flour
2 sticks cold unsalted butter (or one stick butter and 1/2 c. cold Crisco--this makes a crust that is easier to roll, but a tiny bit less flaky.  If you want the flakiest possible crust, use lard for half of the fat.)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 - 1/2 c. ice water

Combine salt and flour, then cut the fat into the flour.  You could pulse it several times in the food processor (the most reliable method) or cut it in using two knives or a pastry blender.  Either way, there should be pea-sized bits of butter in the dough.  (It is the large bits of melting butter that make the pastry flaky in the end.)  Add water carefully just until the dough forms a ball.  (Again, you could pour the water into the food processor with the motor running until the dough gathers, or you could do it in a bowl, stirring with a fork.)  Beware of adding too much water; it's better if the dough is a tiny bit crumbly, even though it will be harder to roll out.  Do not overmix or knead.  Gather the dough into two flat disks (one slightly larger than the other), wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the larger of the two disks into a flat crust and line the bottom of a pie plate with it.  Chill for at least 30 minutes before filling.

Once the bottom crust is filled, roll out the top crust, either into a circle, or if making a lattice, into an oblong.  Place the circle on top of the pie and seal.  To make a lattice, cut the dough into 9 strips using a crimped pastry cutter.  Lay five strips vertically across the top of the pie.  Seal the edges nearest you.  Fold back the first, third, and fifth strips towards you and lay a new strip of dough across the others--left to right.  Now bring the folded strips back to a flat position and fold down strips two and four.  Lay another strip of dough across this, left to right.  Repeat this process until you have used all of the dough strips, which will now form a woven pattern on the top of the pie.  Seal all the edges by turning the ends of the strips under the edge of the bottom crust.

Bake according to the recipe instructions.

Further note:

The bottom crust here does tend to be soft, almost no matter how fast you work.  Next time, I'll try one of two tricks:  brush the inside of the bottom crust with a beaten egg white before filling it OR combine a tablespoon each of flour and sugar, and sprinkle this mixture on the bottom of the crust before filling.  (The egg white method seems more likely to me.)  If you try one of these, let me know how it works for you!

I love cranberry pie, because it's so unexpected.  We think of cranberry as a jelly (with or without hunks of stuff in it) that goes with turkey.  But it's a fruit, so why not make it into a pie?  The color of the filling, an outrageous red, is utterly fantastic, and the flavor is a great combination of sweet and slightly tart.  Best of all?  You get to make something really wonderful out of something hard and sour.


  1. I tried this and it was wonderful! I plan on making it again and possibly adding some apples to it. I think it would be a good combo. Yum!

  2. So glad you liked it! If you try it with the apples, let us know how it turns out (and keep notes about what you do so that we can try it too!).