While my friends (well, Cindy) are more concerned about my lack of "applying" myself to cupcakes, I am determined to tackle a different baking challenge: pie. I've never made a pie, let alone a pie crust, but with the season of pie upon us, it seemed the opportune moment. The pie filling didn't concern me so much as the making of a crust. So after my appeal to you, dear readers, I received a few comments and emails suggesting a few options for pie crust recipes. I narrowed it down to three from very respectable bloggers and I appreciate the depth to which each of these bloggers explained the nuances and differences between various crust methods.
The Brown Eyed Baker had a good recipe and description, including specific instructions for using a food processor or mixing by hand. The recipe uses all butter, but there was no sugar and the rest of the ingredients seemed a little on the light side and since I know I have an issue rolling dough, I wanted something using a little more in the quantity department, just in case.
So then I turned to Smitten Kitchen and Deb who not only uses a great recipe, but also wrote a thorough explanation of why she uses a specific process. But Deb made a double crust and I was afraid to simply halve the recipe. But she also makes a good case for mixing by hand, so I decided I would definitely break out my pastry blender instead of my food processor.
Finally I was left with Baked Bree's version of Dorie Greenspan's pie crust. Bree (and Dorie) use a combination of mostly butter and part shortening, although she's opts for the food processor method. Bree also explains why having super cold ingredients is so important (as did Smitten Kitchen), to the point of even cooling the flour.
I am thrilled with how well the crust came out. It came together pretty easily, although I did use a bit more water to get it to combine. It rolled well and baked up flaky.
Now, your probably still wondering about the whole "cranberry apple walnut" part of the pie. Well I got this recipe from my friend Kelly Rose who made the pie at a cooking class. The moment she shared it, I knew I had to make it. Idea of tartness from the apples and cranberries paired with the nuts and cuddling up with a bourbon sauce just sounded like heaven. I used Granny Smith Apples because they hold their shape well when you cook them, but I cut the sugar back a little since I was getting a lot of juices from my apples and they were thoroughly coated. Admittedly we haven't tried this yet since it's for the Thanksgiving dessert table, but I promise to come back on Friday and share what I'm sure will prove an amazing verdict. Kelly Rose said it was awesome and I trust her recommendations, so I'm sure this pie won't disappoint.
Update: My crust still needs work. I probably should have blind baked it part way because the juices from the sauce left my crust a little soft. It tasted good, but wasn't flaky. And a sweeter apple (or a combination of sweet and tart apples) would probably be better because the bourbon sauce brought out the sour flavors in the cranberries and apples, rather than the tart sweetness. Or you could take outhte bourbon altogether and substitute orange juice. I ended up making a mini version of this pie for my father-in-law as he's allergic to walnuts. Because I cooked such a smaller quantity of the ingredients, the bourbon cooked out far more quickly, leaving less of a sauce. His version was far sweeter than the original. Either way, a stand up pie with a unique flavor combination. I'm still proud that I produced a pie!
Cranberry Apple Walnut Pie
Ingredients for Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 sticks cold butter
2 1/2 Tablespoons shortening
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice cold water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Place bowl in freezer to chill.
Cut butter and shortening into small pieces. Place in freezer for 15 minutes or so to ensure all ingredients are cold.
Add butter and shortening to flour mixture. Using a pastry blender cut butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the mixture has coarse crumbs, like the chunks of butter and shortening are the size of small peas.
Add the cold water (but not the ice cubes) one Tablespoon at a time, using a spatula to work the dough together. Once you get most of the flour incorporated into the dough, stop.
Use your hands to give the dough a quick knead to pull the rest of the flour mixture into the dough. Note: Remember how we were keeping all the ingredients cold? When I kneaded the dough, it was still cold, which is how I knew I was doing something right!
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour before rolling. You can also freeze the dough or keep it in the fridge for a day or two.
Roll dough to desired thickness. For a 9 inch pie plate, you'll probably want an 11-12 inch circle (ish).
Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and transfer to the pie plate. Tuck the dough in and trim away excess overhang.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to fill and bake (or freeze if it will be a while before baking).
Ingredients for Pie
6 large apples
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
5 Tablespoons butter, divided (not pictured because it was early)
6 Tablespoons flour, divided
1 cup bourbon
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 teaspoons orange zest (yes, I'm aware that's a clementine.)
Peel and slice apples, then place in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger evenly over apples and toss to coat.
In a large frying pan, melt 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and cook, turning as needed for 5 to 10 minutes until they turn golden brown.
Add the bourbon and cook over medium heat. Gradually add in 3 Tablespoons flour, stirring constantly, and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until apples are soft and liquid is reduced to a light syrup.
While this is cooking, put the walnuts on cookie sheet in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees F for about 6 minutes to toast. Chop walnuts. Then rinse and coarsely chop cranberries. Note: I used a mini chopper for these, but if you cut them by hand, spread a little sugar on the cutting board first. The cranberries will have a little something to hold onto and not roll as much.
Stir in the cranberries, walnuts and orange zest. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Remove your prepared pie crust from the refrigerator and use a fork to poke the crust several times. Add cooled apple mixture to crust.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining 3 Tablespoons flour, 3 Tablespoons butter and 2 Tablespoons sugar. This will create a crumbly topping to sprinkle over the top of the pie filling.
Makes 1 9-inch pie.
The Cookie Princess
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