If ever you thought that pie season was over as soon as that last bough of mistletoe made it’s way into the garbage disposal. (Taking with it any chance that I am going to be kissed this holiday season. Santa, didn’t you get my list?)
Well, you may be right.
But my parents have yet to take down their Christmas tree. Their halls are still decked. They’ve still got Frank Sinatra’s Christmas Album playing. On repeat. Loudly.
And, this past weekend. They insisted that we attend yet another family Christmas party.
Yes, I know it’s January 21st. Yes, I know we are now closer to Valentine’s Day (oh the horror) than Christmas.
But they can be irrational. And belligerent. Especially after drinking five too many glasses of cognac. It’s often best just to nod and smile.
So I humored them.
In case you haven’t noticed. Not much pie making goes on around here.
Pies are notoriously difficult to make. Especially fruit pies.
What if they don’t set up? What if the fruit isn’t quite sweet enough? Or ripe enough? What if it tastes bland?
It’s enough to fling you into a full-blown anxiety attack. Or at least give you a few gray hairs.
And then there’s pie crust. Which is a whole other beast.
And which I’ve never successfully made until this past weekend, when my mother called me 24 hours before we were supposed to leave for my aunt’s house and said, “You know what would be nice? If you made dessert.” And so then I didn’t even have enough time to worry about whether it would be flaky and buttery or encompass everything that is right in this world.
I just forged ahead. And honestly, I think it was the better for it.
Now I know you’re thinking, but Joanne. Wherever can we still find cranberries at this time of year?
My fridge. Seriously. There are so many bags, I could bathe in them. And still have more left over to make another pie with.
Or Whole Foods. They sell frozen cranberries year round which are just perfect for those days in the middle of summer when you fool yourself into thinking you miss winter. You know, those 90 degree humid days when you are deluded enough to think that 20 degrees would actually feel really good right now. I’m writing this so that you remember that it never feels good.
What I mean to say is, do whatever you have to do. But make this pie. The cranberries give it a hint of tartness which really offsets the sweet blueberry mixture beautifully. And did I mention that it is rife with antioxidants? So you won’t even be breaking your New Year’s resolution by eating it. And you’ll be staving off cancer with each and every bite.
Basic Pie Dough
Makes enough for 2 9-inch pie crusts, adapted from Annie’s Eats
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks, cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 tbsp very cold water
1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix to blend. Add in the butter pieces and mix on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour. Continue until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Mix in the cold water on low speed just until the dough comes together.
2. Shape into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 48 hours. (Dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.) Remove from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Use as directed in your recipe.
Cranberry Blueberry Pie
Serves 8-12, adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2010
16 oz frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1 recipe pie dough (above)
half and half (for brushing)
demarara sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Combine all the ingredients, from the blueberries through the lemon peel in a medium-large saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring to blend, until the mixture starts to boil, about 12-14 minutes. Once the mixture reaches a boil, continue boiling for 2 minutes. stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl or other container and let cool completely. Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
2. Preheat the oven to 400. Roll out one disk of pie dough on a well-floured surface into a 12-inch round. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the crust. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the filling. Spread the filling into the bottom pie crust. Roll out the remaining disk of pie dough and cut into thin strips. Use the strips to form a lattice over the top of the filling. Cut off the excess crust and pinch the edges together to create a fluted pattern. Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with half and half. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
3. Place the pie on the top rack of the oven. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower rack, beneath the pie. Bake, rotating midway through, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling – 60-70 minutes. If the crust seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil to prevent over-browning. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.