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Pumpkin, shmumpkin. This holiday season, we’re all about cranberries. It’s fitting, then, that baker extraordinaire Erin McDowell has a recipe for cranberry-orange pie in her brand-new cookbook, The Book on Pie.
“I love sour flavors," McDowell writes, “so cranberries have a special place in my heart. Because they are high in pectin, they make a naturally thick filling on the stovetop. A thin layer of silky cream cheese filling, spiked with orange zest, helps temper the tartness and round the whole thing out with a little creaminess (the perfect pairing, in my book).”
According to McDowell, this beauty is best eaten the same day it’s made. An excuse for a second slice? We think so.
Excerpted from The Book on Pie © 2020 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2020 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
All-Buttah Pie Dough
1¼ cups (150g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon (1g) fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (113g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ cup (60g) ice water, plus more as needed
Egg wash, as needed
2 pounds (906g) cranberries (fresh or frozen, no need to thaw)
½ cup (113g) fresh orange juice
½ cup (99g) granulated sugar
½ cup (106g) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon (3g) ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon (2g) ground ginger
¼ teaspoon (scant 1g) ground cloves
½ teaspoon (2g) fine sea salt
½ teaspoon (2g) pure vanilla extract
Orange Cream Cheese Filling
8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, at room temperature
Grated zest of 2 medium oranges
½ cup (56g) confectioners’ sugar
1 large (56g) egg, lightly whisked
½ teaspoon (2g) pure vanilla extract or Fiori di Sicilia
¼ teaspoon (1g) fine sea salt
1. Make the Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter cubes, tossing them through the flour until each piece is coated. Cut the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your fingers and thumbs, flattening the cubes into big shards.
2. Continue to toss the butter with the flour as you work, re-coating the pieces. Mix until the butter is about the size of walnut halves.
3. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the water. (Have more at the ready.) Toss the mixture gently to moisten it. Add more water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together. When it starts to come together, you can mix by gently kneading the dough to make it more homogenous. The dough should hold together easily without feeling dry and crumbly or wet and sticky. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 3 days) before using.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1 inch wider than a 9-inch pie plate (it should be about ¼ inch thick). Transfer to the pie plate, gently pushing it into the base. Trim the overhang to about ½ inch around the edge of the plate. Tuck and crimp as desired. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before baking.
5. Par-Bake the Crust: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Using a fork, dock the bottom of the crust all over. Cut a square of parchment slightly larger than the pie plate, then place it on top of the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Transfer to the oven and bake until the edges just start to brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and use the parchment to lift the pie weights from the crust. Return to the oven and bake until just set and golden at the edges, about 3 minutes more. Cool completely and brush with egg wash before filling.
6. Make the Cranberry Filling: In a medium pot, mix the cranberries (and any juices from thawing), orange juice, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt to combine. Cook over medium heat until the cranberries begin to soften or break down, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes; some of the berries will break down and become jammy, some will be whole or in chunky pieces. Stir in the vanilla. Cool completely.
7. Prepare the Cream Cheese Filling: In a medium bowl, using a silicone spatula, stir the cream cheese until smooth. Add the orange zest and mix well, then add the powdered sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Add the egg, extract and salt and mix to combine.
8. Place the cooled pie crust on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour in the cream cheese filling and spread into an even layer. Freeze the pie for 15 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the lower third (preferably with a Baking Steel or stone on it).
10. Spoon the cooled cranberry filling on top of the chilled cream cheese filling and spread into an even layer. Transfer the pie to the oven and bake until the crust is deeply golden brown (the filling will have a slightly matte appearance), 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely before slicing and serving.
Note: For a variation, McDowell suggests a Gooseberry Vanilla Cream Pie. Replace the cranberries with an equal amount of cleaned gooseberries. Add the brown sugar to the berries in the pot in step 1 and cook as directed. Stir 3 tablespoons (21g) cornstarch into the granulated sugar and stir into the pot before adding the vanilla at the end of step 1. Stir constantly while cooking over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. For the cream cheese filling, omit the orange zest and substitute the seeds of 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthwise and seeds scraped out).