What a week. I had planned to post this recipe on Wednesday, but when I got home from catering an election party on Tuesday night, I knew I wasn’t going to get any work done until I knew who would become President-Elect. Since then, our country’s citizens have been more deeply divided than ever before (and we were already pretty divided). It’s tough to be an American this week. Regardless, we need to come together for change and for the future. I suggest we start with pie.
When I first came to New York nine years ago, I had a friend who loved pie. I mean LOVED it. At the time, I had never eaten a slice of pie that I considered revolutionary, so I asked him: why is pie so great? What he said has stuck with me since. Every time I make pie, I think of his words. He said that pie is a communal food; it brings people together. Pie is designed to be shared. While one certainly can eat a whole pie by their lonesome, it’s much more enjoyable to share it. I think the same goes for our nation.
In a couple of weeks, Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with their families and friends. Of course, just because you share DNA or a last name with someone doesn’t mean you have the same beliefs. There are some of us who dread these family holidays for fear of awkward political talk over turkey. I love my family, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some of these fears, too. And while there’s little anyone can do to change someone else’s beliefs over the course of one holiday, there is one thing we can all enjoy together: Cranberry Crumb Pie.
This pie has it all. Orange-scented cranberries layered with sweet, buttery cinnamon crumbs in my favorite Cream Cheese Pie Crust. If you love cranberries and the crumb on top of coffee cakes, this is the pie for you! Some don’t particularly care for the tartness of fresh cranberries, but here they are sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg before being tossed with the zest and juice of an orange. They are still tart, to be sure, but the combination of sugar, spices, and citrus mellows them enough to be enjoyed on their own.
The crumb is an old stand-by for American bakers. Cold butter is cut into a combination of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla until evenly combined. Some prefer to make large amounts of crumb with their mixer, but I encourage you to do this with your hands. Sure, it takes a few more minutes, but it will keep the crumbs from all being the same size, giving your pie a little textural diversity. The cranberries and crumb are layered before being baked–there will be two layers of each. As the pie bakes, the cranberries burst and bubble around the crumb, spreading the buttery cinnamon flavor a bit, but also allowing those crumbs the get crisp-crunchy and super delicious. Soft, juicy cranberries and sweet, crispy crumbs? Yes, please!
Now, go forth and start to heal your community. Make a pie and have friends over (make one of them bring the vanilla ice cream). Be good to each other.
Looking for more pie? You’ve come to the right blog! Check out this Black Bottom Pear & Almond Pie, this light & fluffy Pumpkin Pie, this Cranberry Apple Pie, this Salted Butterscotch Pie, and this Maple Pecan Pie. One more pie recipe is coming your way next week!
Cranberry Crumb Pie
makes one 9-inch pie
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough or other good crust
4 cups (about 15-16 ounces) fresh whole cranberries, rinsed and picked over
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
juice and zest of one medium orange
milk or cream, for brushing
vanilla ice cream, for serving
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in vanilla. Add butter. Use your hands (or a pastry blender) to work butter into dry ingredients until a clumpy but homogenous mixture forms. Set aside.
Roll out the pie crust to 12-inch diameter. Fit it in a pie pan, trim the excess to 1/2-inch, and crimp as desired. Chill 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place racks in the top and bottom positions.
Place cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, salt, and orange juice and zest.
Place chilled pie crust on a baking sheet. Pour half the cranberries into the pie crust and top with half the crumb, breaking it up with your fingers as you go. Top with the remaining cranberries. Brush exposed pie crust with milk. Place pie (on baking sheet) on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake 25 minutes.
Remove pie from oven and top with remaining crumb. Bake on the top rack for 25 minutes, tenting with foil (or using a pie protector) if anything gets too dark.
Let pie cool on a rack at least 4 hours, until room temperature. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Pie will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.