Everyone has their favorite pie. The one they swear by. The one they are tempted to make every Thanksgiving. And this is mine. There are pumpkin pie lovers and pecan pie lovers and sweet potato pie lovers. But for my money, nothing beats a good apple pie at the end of a great meal.
This entry has been a week in the making. A full week of me staring at the computer screen trying to say something meaningful and eloquent and a propos Thanksgiving. But here’s the rub – I’m so beyond eloquence where this pie is concerned, I’ve rewritten this oh, maybe twelve times? I’m not even joking. So let’s try something here for a change.
These should be your five reasons (like you need more) to make this pie this Thanksgiving**. I know what you’re about to say, “But Olga, I’ve never made this pie before, can I subject my guests to a first time experiment?” My answer is an unequivocal YES. And YES. And YES, AGAIN. You can. You should. You must. And here’s another thing for you to consider. I have SO much faith in you, that I’m absolutely positive you will be victorious and create a pie that your family and friends will talk about for years to come. You might even set a new bar in pie-making.
This pie is oh-ever-so-slightly more fussy than your regular apple pie in that you make the honey bourbon caramel before coating the apple slices. You will want, and I warn you here, to sit on your couch and lick the remaining caramel in the pot. For that, you make take five minutes because one must never let a good thing to go waste. In the time that you’re licking the caramel out of the pot, you also let the apples absorb the caramel a little more, so it works out fine. But then, you must waste no time, and put your pie together and bake it.
I suggest, while your pie is baking in the oven, that you sit down and have a filling snack. Perhaps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or maybe some warmed up beans with toast and a runny egg. But eat something because the smell of this pie will render you incredibly hungry. And you don’t want to torture yourself because a hungry cook is an angry cook and we all know what happens when one cooks angry.
One other thing I forgot to tell you is the matter of decorating your pie. Because this is a holiday, a simple pie crust top with some vents won’t do. You should make dough leaves. Or use a cookie cutter with an autumnal theme. Or, if you have some other cookie shape, use that. The more random – the better! I remember when I made this pie last year, we spent a good portion of dinner laughing at my choice of decorative accent. And this time around, I’m tempted to do it again, eventhough I have leaf shapes, but where’s the fun in that?
**If anyone has any last minute Thanksgiving questions, I’ll be answering until Turkey Day itself, but on the very day I’ll be cooking all day, so I won’t be around. Shoot me an email or leave a comment below if you have any questions.
Apple Cranberry Pie with Honey-Bourbon Caramel
Pie Filling Ingredients:
5-6 lb firm tart apples, like Granny Smith
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
Honey Bourbon Caramel Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup mild honey
2 tbsp bourbon
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
All-butter pastry dough (recipe along with tips on how to work with pie dough here)
1 tablespoon whole milk
1. Core and slice your apples and in a medium bowl, toss them with flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in cranberries. Set aside.
2. Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
3. Bring 1/2 cup sugar, honey, bourbon and water to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-qt heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber, about 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and add butter, swirling pan until butter is melted. Be careful here as the caramel will hiss and spatter. Pour over fruit and toss (caramel may harden slightly but will melt in oven). Take a few minutes to lick the spoon and the inside of the pot because this is pure heaven.
5. Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out remaining dough.
6. Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin.
7. Transfer filling to pie shell, mounding it. Cover pie with pastry round. Trim with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together, then crimp decoratively. Brush top all over with some of milk, then sprinkle with remaining Tbsp sugar. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife.
8. Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes more. Cool pie to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours.