Not So Boring Apple Pie

I wouldn’t quite use the word “loathe”, but I have a very strong dislike for apple pie. I know it’s all-American and traditional, but I think it’s the most God-awful-boring dessert ever created. I can only imagine that it has survived as long as it has because of how traditional it is. Of course, that’s only my opinion. My favorite chef in my old culinary program once said that “just because you don’t like it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t good”. Point taken. If you like apple pie, I’m not sure what you see in it, but let’s just agree to disagree.

With the onset of the holidays this year, I was excited to demonstrate my skills for my family and my boyfriend’s family. This was going to be my first major holiday with my boyfriend and his family, and I wanted to show them that their son was well-fed at home in CT. I had far too many ideas for what was ultimately going to serve a handful of people. So I narrowed it down between a caramel pecan cheesecake or a pumpkin (you always need something pumpkin at Thanksgiving) cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. I was pumped…until my boyfriend’s mom called and asked that I make just one dessert…

…an apple pie. Ugh. It’s really hard to be selective with a recipe for something you don’t really like in the first place but you still want to impress people with. What could I do? I headed over to my new favorite recipe resource, King Arthur Flour, and found the recipe below. It’s still apple, but it’s less boring and less traditional. I can’t say that I’m overly excited about it the way I am about pumpkin or chocolate recipes, but I did receive several compliments on it. Then again, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it isn’t good…

Cranberry Apple Pie

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes one 9-inch pie

For the Crust (Assuming you don’t cheat)

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening and more to grease the pan
  • 1/2 cup or one stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 6 to 9 Tbsp ice water
  • One 9-inch pie plate
  • Rolling pin

For the Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 orange juice
  • 6 Tbsp chopped pecans
  • 3 large, firm, tart apples (Granny Smith is always great for pies) peeled, cored, and sliced evenly
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

How to Do It

  1. Begin by preparing the crust. Whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. If you have access to a pastry blender, use it to cut the shortening into the mixture until it resembles cornmeal. If you do not have access to a pastry blender, you can use your fingertips.
  2. Toss the cubes of butter into the mixture to coat. Continue to cut them in until the largest pieces are the size of a dime, but be careful not to overwork the dough.
  3. Gradually incorporate small amounts of the ice water over the mixture until the dough is just moist enough to hold together. Round the dough into a ball and split in half. Wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for 30 minutes or more before rolling out. This will give the dough an opportunity to rest so the gluten in the flours isn’t overworked.
  4. Prepare the filling by cooking the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, flour, and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer and thicken slightly. Remove the mixture from heat, and allow it to cool before filling the pie.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and lightly grease the pie plate. Remove the wrapped dough from the refrigerator, and prepare a lightly floured flat surface to roll it out. Roll out half the dough to fit into the base of the pie plate. Trim off any excess dishes, and spread half the pecans over the bottom of the dough. Neatly layer the apple slices over the pecans, and top the apples with butter pieces and cinnamon.
  6. Cover the apples with the cooled cranberry mixture, and top it with the remainder of the chopped pecans. Roll out the other half of the dough, and prepare a lattice crust. You can do this by slicing equally sized strips of dough with a pastry knife (or other small sharp knife) and placing them in a checkerboard pattern across the top of your pie. Use a few drops of water or eggwash (see below) to seal the the strips to the bottom crust.  
  7. Bake the pie for 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Check the pie after 20 minutes and cover with foil or pie shield if necessary to keep the filling from spilling over the edges. Cool before slicing and serving, and for a little added treat, top with whipped cream. Cheat with the can if necessary-you worked hard enough on the pie!

Recipe from King Arthur Flour.

Tip: Whenever you roll out pie dough, always roll from the middle outwards. Rotate your body rather than rotating the dough to get to all the edges, and move in a clockwise fashion. This will keep your shape even and your dough flat without thinning it out too much. It will also keep your dough from getting overworked.

Extra Tip: When you’re ready to transfer your dough to a pie plate, lightly flour your rolling-pin, and roll the dough in half with the rolling-pin acting as the divider. Carefully pick up the dough with the pin (this should look like a towel hanging flat over a shower rod), and lay it out over the pie plate from the bottom edge to the top. It will be easier to tuck the dough and line the plate evenly.

Extra, Extra Tip: Want that glistening top for your pie? Create an eggwash by whisking a whole egg and a small amount of milk or water in a small dish. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin coat on the top and the edges of your pie, and sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar over the top. The egg wash will give the pie a golden sheen, and it will help your edges stay sealed. The sugar just looks pretty and tastes lovely.


  1. Oooh, this sounds great — and I love the combination of apple and cranberry! My mom actually made something similar for Thanksgiving this year, though we “cheated” and used pre-made pie crust. 🙂 Glad to hear you received some compliments!

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