Tag Archives: pie baking

Simple Apple, Pear & Cranberry Pie

Hello, Fall. I’ve missed you terribly. You didn’t write. You didn’t call.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Inside NanaBread's Head

I love fall fruits, especially apples and pears. Earlier this week, a blogger tweeted that she’d just tried her first SweeTango apple and it blew her mind. She mentioned her favorite apple had always been the honeycrisp, and that’s what caught my attention. Honeycrisps are my favorite apple, too. So my next visit to the grocery store, guess what I looked for? You got it. And was she right? You betcha. Crisp, super sweet and beautifully colored, I’m afraid these are going to become my new apple obsession. They are spectacular. Pie worthy, in fact.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - The Fruit

For this pie, I sliced my apples thin and my pears even thinner. I usually like a big chunky apple pie, but for this one, I wanted thin slices piled high and dotted with dried cranberries. The heart wants what the heart wants.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Sliced Fruit

Here’s food for thought… I watched an episode of Cook’s Illustrated on PBS and they used fruit pectin powder to thicken a peach pie. Say what? Now I’ve used pectin for years when canning fruit, but it never occurred to me to bake with it. Makes sense, if you think about it, so I decided to try it with this one. And since I used instant tapioca granules to thicken my peach pie this summer, I wondered what would happen if I did both. For science. Why not, right?

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie Thickeners

Combining apple juice, sugar, instant tapioca, pectin & vanilla extract, I made a slightly thick, gently sweetened, vanilla-kissed filling that paired perfectly with the apples and pears and created a nice balance for the tart cranberries. Once the mixture was thickened, I just poured it over the fruit and tossed it to coat. So quick and simple. The tapioca still looks a little cloudy here, but don’t worry – it’s clear and unrecognizable once it’s baked.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Fruit & Thickeners

After that, it’s just dough, butter, blah blah PIE! Man, how I love pie. But seriously, there’s only one pie dough recipe for me, and it’s Kirsten’s ‘No Excuses Pie Dough’ from ComfortablyDomestic.com. Once you make this one, nothing less will do. I make it in batches, wrap it in plastic, seal it into heavy bags and pop it in the freezer so I can produce pies on a whim. And that’s another reason I love this recipe – Kirsten’s dough freezes beautifully.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Kirsten's Pie Dough

Just thaw, roll on a floured surface, and pop it in a pie tin. And then concentrate on stuffing every last bit of that filling into that shell. Top with a fat, rustic lattice, crimp the edges, brush with melted butter and sprinkle generously with raw sugar crystals. Easy, right?

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Ready for Baking

It really is easy. The only hard part is the waiting – for it to come out of the oven when it smells so amazing, for it to thicken and cool, for dinner to end so you can cut it. It’s always the waiting part that gets me.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Warm from the Oven

NanaBread’s Apple, Pear & Cranberry Pie:
1 recipe for Kirsten’s ‘No Excuses’ pie dough
1 1/2 pounds (3 large) SweeTango apples
1 1/2 pounds (3 large) Star Krimson red pears
1/2 to 2/3 cup Craisins dried cranberries (to taste)
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
3 tablespoons quick-cook tapioca granules
1 tablespoon powdered fruit pectin
1/2 to 2/3 cup granulated sugar (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons raw sugar granules

Start by making the pie dough and chilling it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or the freezer for 30 minutes. While your dough is chilling, prep your fruit and filling.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and pears. I sliced my pears a little thinner than the apples since they take a little longer to bake. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the dried cranberries.

In a small saucepan, combine the apple juice or cider, tapioca granules, pectin and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking often, until the sugar is melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Remove the pie dough from the fridge and roll out a bottom crust, placing it gently into the pie tin. Roll a top crust and cut into wide strips (1 1/2″) so you can form a rustic lattice top.

Pour the filling over the fruit and toss to thoroughly coat all the fruit. Spoon it into the pie shell, pressing it gently into the crust to compact the fruit. Lattice the pie dough strips onto the top of the pie, then roll the lower crust edges around the edge of the pie tin and crimp all around.

In a small bowl, melt the butter and brush the entire crust. If there is melted butter left, simply pour it over the top of the pie. Sprinkle the entire pie with the raw sugar granules.

Bake in a pre-heated oven (375F) for 45-60 minutes, turning every 20 minutes, until light golden brown. Watch it once it starts to brown. Everyone’s oven is different, and yours may take more or less time depending on how hot it runs. Once golden brown, remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool completely before serving (4-6 hours).

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Cut Pie - Inside NanaBread's Head

This pie was so good! It’s going on my ‘must make’ list for the holidays now. I might even rank it above all former apple pie recipes as my new favorite. Maybe even above most other pies in general. It’s definitely invited for Christmas.

Sorry, Pumpkin Pie. I’m breaking up with you.

It’s not you. It’s me.

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Pie Week: If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Bananas Foster Fried Pies

Bananas Foster Fried Pies. No fooling. It's Bananas Foster. In a Fried Pie.


What do you get when you combine six gregarious bloggers with one fabulous pie dough recipe? Pie Week, of course! Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic inspired us when she posted a recipe for fabulous “no excuses” pie dough made in a food processor in mere minutes. Needless to say, I had to give it a shot. My last few attempts at pie dough failed miserably. Too dry. Too wet. Too flavorless. Too pathetic. Father, forgive me for I had sinned; Pillsbury pie dough from the dairy aisle had become my ‘go to’ for all things pie. But not anymore. Using Kirsten’s pie dough as our common denominator, the following bloggers decided to unite and shout our love of pie from the rooftops.

Want to know who’s participating?
MondayKirsten from Comfortably Domestic
Tuesday – Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head (hey, that’s me!)
WednesdayKat from Tenaciously Yours
ThursdayMads from La Petite Pancake
FridayMegan from Wanna Be A Country Clever
SaturdayAllison from Decadent Philistines Save the World

Each of us will be posting our own pie selection using Kirsten’s amazing pie dough recipe as the common thread. My contribution came to me when I was contemplating what to do with a bowl of rapidly ripening bananas. A few minutes later, I was rummaging through my pantry and accidentally ran into a bottle of Bacardi. What? Like you’ve never done that before. But hey… this isn’t about me and my burgeoning booze stash. It’s about PIE, so let’s get to it!

The cast of characters - all laid out and ready to roll. Ha! I kill me.

NanaBread’s Bananas Foster Fried Pies:
Kirsten’s pie dough (link above; I doubled it)
3 tablespoons of your favorite rum (or more, to your taste)
24 individually wrapped Kraft caramels
1/2 cup of evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 ripe banana (ripe but still firm works best)
1 egg plus 2 tablespoons of water (for egg wash)
Oil for frying, approximately 24 ounces
powdered sugar for dusting

Start by placing a small skillet on the stove; add the rum, then turn heat on to medium. Once it starts to bubble lightly, use a long kitchen match or long-neck butane lighter to flame the rum and burn off the alcohol. Please be careful here. I don’t want anyone to get burned. Allow the rum to flame until it goes out on its own; reduce to 1 tablespoon. Pour the rum into a heatproof bowl and set it aside.

Unwrap your caramels and place them in a microwaveable bowl; add the evaporated milk. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring or whisking each time, until the caramels are melted and incorporated into the milk. Add the rum and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Set it aside and let it cool until it’s the consistency of creamy peanut butter. If you need to speed up the process, put it in the refrigerator. Just check it every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get too firm.

While your caramel is cooling, flour your work surface and roll your pie crust thin (approximately 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch). You don’t want it too thick or it won’t fry properly and nothing is worse than a gummy fried pie. While we’re talking about rolling pie dough, I have to say that Kirsten’s version rolls beautifully. No jagged edges. No tearing. I could roll it thin and still pick it up to move it around without it tearing. So far, it’s a solid A+.

Look how smooth and perfect Kirsten's pie dough turns out.

Using a bench scraper (or a knife), cut the pie dough into 5″ squares. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water for your egg wash. Working with four squares at a time, use a pasty brush or your fingers if you’re not fussy like me and brush each square with egg wash to help seal your edges.

Which came first - the caramel or the banana?

Place one tablespoon of caramel into the center of each square. Slice your banana on a bias to make longer, uniform pieces approximately 1/2″ thick. Place one slice of banana on top of the caramel on each square. Fold into a triangle and gently press the edges to seal. I like to let mine sit for a few minutes to give the egg wash time to do its thing. Using a fork, dip the ends of the tines in flour and gently crimp your fried pies. Set the crimped pies onto parchment or waxed paper and allow them to rest while you assemble the rest of the pies.

Make sure your oil is at 300F before you start frying.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat 1″ of oil to 300F. I use canola oil, but you can use whatever you prefer. Once your oil is hot, fry the pies one at a time until they are golden brown on each side. I like to use a flat frying ladle and spoon hot oil over the top as they’re frying. This helps create those gorgeous bubbles in the dough. Check it out. (PS – I love the morning light at my kitchen window.)

Now that, my friends, is a perfectly fried Fried Pie.

Drain the fried pies on paper towels to absorb the oil and allow them to cool. To serve, dust lightly with powdered sugar and drizzle lightly with the remaining caramel sauce. If it’s too thick to drizzle, microwave it for 15-30 seconds, or until it softens enough to drizzle easily. Or you could skip the powdered sugar, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and drizzle caramel over that. Or you could skip the powdered sugar and the extra caramel and just eat these plain or with whipped cream. Trust me; these are plenty sweet on their own. Must be all those buttery sweet caramels. Mmmmm… caramel.

Crispy, chewy, sugary, gooey. It doesn't get any better than this.

If there are any pies left over {go ahead…I’ll wait until you stop laughing} wrap them in parchment or waxed paper and slip them into freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, unwrap the pies and place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until they are warmed through. Could you microwave them instead? Sure, but baking will help restore that crispy crust to the outside. And I’m all about crispy, flaky pie crust.

Thank you, Kirsten, for sharing your recipe with the world and for inspiring our pie shenanigans this week. See what you started? And speaking of – be sure to check in with Kat, Mads, Megan and Allison as Pie Week continues. There’s no telling what those ladies are up to, but it’s sure to be delicious!

Pie Week, Day 1 – click here to see Kirsten’s Monday entry – Apple Tart with a Cheddar Streusel Topping It’s sure to be an All-American family favorite.

Up Next: Kat at Tenaciously Yours tackles her first pie…EVER! Can’t wait for Wednesday to see it. Let’s just say they don’t call her ‘tenacious’ for nothing.

*UPDATE* November 16th is “Love the Pie” Party Day at www.TidyMom.net. Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Cherokee USA, Le Creuset, Wilton, Bags by Bloom and Harvard Common Press and browse the pie links bloggers are sharing. If you love pie like I love pie, you will not want to miss it!

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