I love a good pie. A good pie doesn’t have to be complicated. A good pie doesn’t have to be pretentious. A good pie can be simple and wonderful. A good pie, like so much in cooking, is about good ingredients and combining them in ways that make each element shine. Oh, and a kick-ass crust. Pie has to have a kick-ass crust.
And, let me tell you, if you can pull off pie crust in the tropical climate of Hawaii, you’ve got it down. I remember making pie on the mainland one holiday season and being absolutely amazed by how easy the crust was to make! It didn’t tear, it didn’t crumble, it didn’t stick, it was a piece of cake! Or rather, pie! However, all these complications can, and usually do, happen in Hawaii. I’ve been making pie for years – and crusts for about six of them. And I’ve come up with a formula and method that work even in the warm and humid climate of Hawaii. If it works here, it’ll work for you!
As for the filling, the possibilities are nearly endless. Fruit, berries, spices, citrus, dairy . . . or if you go a savory route (aka quiche) you’ve got eggs, dairy, herbs, vegetables, pork products (hey, everything is better with bacon) . . . But, since you came here to hear about sweet pie, we’ll stick to that. Apple is my stand-by fruit and the McCalls’ apple pie is my go-to recipe. It gets rave reviews every time I make it and I don’t order apple pie at restaurants because I know I’ll be disappointed. But sometimes I play around with what goes into my apple pies, and lately I’ve been using a lot of ginger in my cooking. And, with cranberries coming into season again I felt I could use some of my stash of frozen cranberries from last year. And, well, you’ve read the title of the post. I came up with an Apple, Ginger, Cranberry Pie. And with just a touch of sugar and lemon that is the whole flavor profile of the filling. That’s it! No spices. I was a little surprised, but it seemed like it would work.
I was pleased to discover that the lusciousness of the apples, the bite and tang of the cranberries, and the warmth and spiciness of the ginger meld together into a delicious whole. Topped with a flakey crust, this pie is a keeper.
For the Crust
makes enough pastry for one double crust pie (or two single crust pies)
adapted from the McCall’s Cookbook
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup shortening, cold and cut into chunks
- 4 to 5 tbsp. ice water
Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. With a pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening into the mixture until it is crumbly and “resembles coarse cornmeal.”
Sprinkle the ice water, 2 tablespoon first, then only a little bit at a time, all over the pastry mixture. With a fork, quickly toss the pastry around to wet it evenly after each addition. Add enough water so that when you grab a handful of the pastry, it clumps together and doesn’t crumble apart.
Divide the dough into two even portions and flatten into disks about 4″ to 5″ around. Wrap the pastry disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. (Use that time to get the filling together.)
When ready to roll out the pastry, take it out of the fridge and place on a generously floured work surface. With a rolling pin, gently work the pastry outwards. Keep turning whole disk on the work surface, and add more flour underneath it at the slightest hint of it sticking. Roll out the pastry equally in all directions and work quickly so that the fat stays cool. If it starts to stick, use a large knife to free it from the work surface, add more flour, and keep going.
When the pastry is about 2″ wider than the bottom of your pie pan, stop. Gently make sure the bottom is free, then fold the pastry in half. Bring your pie pan close to the folded pastry, and lift the pastry up and into the pan. Place the fold at the center on the pan, and unfold it. Push it into the corners and let the edges hang over. Use some of the extra pastry to patch any holes or spots that didn’t quite reach to the edge of the pie pan.
Put the filling into the pie shell, and roll out the top pastry in the same manner as the bottom. Gently fold, lift, unfold, and cover the filling with the top pastry. Crimp the edges together, combining the top and bottom pastry (use whatever decorative crimping method you like and/or are comfortable doing). With a sharp knife cut a few slits to let the steam out of the pie. (If you have little cookie cutters you want to use for air holes, use them while the pastry is still on the work surface. The larger holes will make the pastry more difficult to lift, so be extra careful if you choose this step.)
For the Filling
adapted from William-Sonoma, makes enough filling for a VERY full 9″ pie (or a regular 9″ pie and a smaller “personal” pie)
- 3 lbs. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- nearly 2 cubs cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger (I didn’t measure, but it was about 1/3 cup)
- scant 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 1 egg white (for brushing the top crust)
- raw sugar (for sprinkling the top crust)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
When cutting the apples, place them in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the apples and toss lightly to combine.
Transfer to pie shell(s), and cover with the top crust. Brush the crust with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about an hour. Cool on a wire rake for about an hour before serving. Vanilla ice cream would be quite nice.