Friday, November 25, 2011

Year of the Pie #11 & 12: The Simplest Cranberry-Apple Crumb Pie & Maple Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our family is fairly consistent year-to-year in what we have at Thanksgiving dinner - there's something about tradition, I suppose. We had turkey, stuffing, green beans, apple-herb rolls, kidney bean salad, homemade cranberry sauce, roasted carrots and parsnips, and sweet potato casserole. Dessert consisted of two pies and cranberry mousse.

My sister and I were assigned desserts, and everyone knows that it's not Thanksgiving without pie! Hopefully these two pies (plus a bonus dessert!) will partly make up for the baking pie-atus (get it?) I've been on as of late. We were charged with making an apple pie, a pumpkin pie, and cranberry mousse (my favorite holiday dessert - and SUPER easy to make).
cranberry-apple pie
maple pumpkin pie

The pie fillings came from our two households - I had a bag of apples in the fridge that weren't quite fall-crisp enough for eating, G had already bought a can of pumpkin filling (in a future year I really want to cook down a pumpkin or squash to use as the base); a quick trip to the store on the way to G's house yielded remaining ingredients for the pies and the mousse.

One recipe called for a store-bought pastry, the other for a basic flaky pie crust; doubling the flaky crust recipe was just as easy (and conveniently already written out in the crust section of the book) and I try to avoid store-bought crusts when at all possible. The crusts were mixed, divided, and put in the freezer to firm up while the fillings were prepared. 

When baking time came, the crust for the pumpkin pie was pre-baked, the cranberry-apple crust was rolled out and formed to the pie plate. The pre-baking was almost successful; my baking beans (weight for holding down foil that helps the crust keep its shape while pre-baking) didn't survive the move, and the best we could do at G's was to place a small casserole dish on the foil. The crust did sag a little bit, but I coaxed it up as it cooled.

The Simplest Cranberry-Apple Pie.

When flipping through the apple section of the pie book I had a sense I wanted to add 
cranberries to the pie - cranberries are very Thanksgiving-y, after all - and ended up finding the recipe in the section, "Cranberry, Pear, Pumpkin, and Other Classic Fall Pies," along with the pumpkin pie recipe.

This recipe called for fresh cranberries, a couple of large (or, in our case, six small) apples, some sugar, lemon juice, and flour; the pie was topped with a crumb crust - flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Definitely simple. While at the store I even happened to find Vermont cranberries. Score! I had no idea that cranberries were harvested in Vermont.

local apples & cranberries!
I tackled the filling for this pie. The apples were peeled and chopped and mixed with the cranberries, sugar (I used less - I like a more tart pie), lemon juice, and flour, and set aside for ten minutes. 
cranberries, chopped apples, sugar   
The flour, sugar and cinnamon were combined for the crumb topping, then cold butter was cut in to create a crumbly miture. When it came time for baking, the cranberry-apple filling was dumped into the crust and set to bake for about 30 minutes. After this, the crumb topping was added and the pie went back in for another 30 minutes or so. The house was starting to smell really good.

Maple Pumpkin Pie.

Maple and pumpkin - yum. This is a pretty standard pumpkin pie, and called for eggs, light cream OR half-and-half, maple syrup, vanilla, brown sugar, flour, spices, salt and canned pumpkin puree (squash would work as well - and sometimes gives an even better taste). 
maple pumpkin pie ingredients
G tackled the filling for this pie. The eggs were beaten then the half-and-half and syrup were whisked in. The brown sugar, flour and spices were combined then added to the syrup mixture. Finally the pumpkin was added and the entire mixture (minus about 1 and 1/2 cups) was poured into the now-cooled pre-baked crust. The pie went into the oven for about 25 minutes, was turned 180 degrees to bake more evenly, then baked for another 25-30 minutes or so. 
mixin' the fillin'
There was a bit more mixture than the crust could hold (may-day, may-day - we've got overflow), but we couldn't let the filling go to waste. We baked the extra in a small casserole dish for the first 25 minutes - it made an excellent post-baking treat. The house smelled REALLY good by the time the pumpkin pie was nearly done.

But wait, there's more! A bonus dessert: Cranberry Mousse. This dessert has been a staple at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for as long as I can remember, and a number of years ago I took over making this dessert. Mom still has the original recipe, courtesy of Ocean Spray, taped to an index card. The ingredients are simple - cranberry juice, raspberry jello, a can of cranberry sauce (jellied, not chunky), and heavy cream. The cranberry juice is simmered, the jello dissolved, and the cranberry sauce mixed in. This goes into the fridge to set until cool and thickened. The heavy cream is whipped and folded into the thickened cranberry-raspberry mixture, and the mousse is chilled until completely set. Sooooo good.
cranberry goodness. . .
As we were baking, I did an inventory and realized that several of the ingredients were local: apples(Happy Valley Orchard, Middlebury), butter (Cabot Creamery, Cabot), cranberries (Vermont Cranberry Company, Fairfield), eggs (our parents, Weybridge), flour (King Arthur Flour, Norwich), half-and-half and heavy cream (Monument Farms, Weybridge). Yay for local foods!

All in all it was a lovely Thanksgiving spent with family and good food, and the pies went over well. Plenty to be thankful for this year!

Happy winter!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Meg! I also made a cranberry apple pie, with St. Lawrence County cranberries and apples from our own tree - sweetened with maple syrup made 1/2 mile up the road. Ten minutes after taking it out of the oven we had to hit the road for the 2-hour drive to my sister-in-laws. Man, did our car smell great!