Apple-Cranberry Pie

There are cake people and there are pie people.  Although I treat myself to a cupcake now and then, I am, when forced to choose, a pie person.  After all, how can you deny a plateful of just-from-the-oven apple pie topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream?

A good friend came over to bake yesterday, and I was thrilled when he revealed his intentions to make an apple-cranberry pie.  There’s something about the way those bouncy and bright little cranberries make the filling pop.  And the crust, OH THE CRUST, it’s perfectly buttery, with a hint of lemon and a little crunch.  Serve up a slice warm from the oven with a big scoop of ice cream, and you’ll never find it difficult to choose between pie and cake again.


Apple-Cranberry Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
Pie Crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, diced
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup ice water
Pie Filling:
3 pink lady apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water (optional)
turbinado sugar (optional)
For the pie crust:  Put the butter on a small plate and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Cut in the semi-frozen butter until the butter chunks are about the size of peas (I flatten any big chunks of butter with my fingers).  Pour 1/4 cup of ice water over the mixture and mix, adding additional water if necessary.*  Form the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
For the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator.  Sprinkle flour on the countertop and the rolling pin.  Roll dough into an 11 inch circle, picking the dough up and rotating it 45 degrees after each stroke to prevent sticking.  Place the circle of dough into a pie pan and trim the overhang within 1 inch of the pan.  Pile the filling into the lined pie pan.  Roll out the remaining disk of dough and place over filling.  Trim edges to match bottom layer of dough.  Fold the edges under and crimp.  If desired, brush the egg wash on the top crust and sprinkle with sugar.  Cut slits in the top of the pie and place in the oven.  Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the filling is bubbling.
*Hint: The pie dough has enough water when, after squeezing some dough in your hand, the ball of dough stays together.    If it does not, add more water by the tablespoon until it holds together.


Chocolate Cranberry Scones

It seems that scones are always hit-or-miss.  The good ones crumble when you try to tear off a piece, are moist without being gummy, and have a touch of sweetness, without being a cookie.  Although I have a favorite, go-to scone recipe (which I will post about in the upcoming month), I decided to try something new.

This chocolate scone recipe has been bookmarked for a while; I simply did not find the right occasion to make them…until last week that is.

The recipe is a breeze to make, and you probably have most (if not all) of the ingredients in your kitchen.  The utterly rich, chocolate-studded scone dough is balanced by the tart bite of the fresh cranberries.  These scones would make a great breakfast treat for holiday guests.

Chocolate Cranberry Scones
(Adapted from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook)
These scones are quite rich, but make a wonderful treat in the morning with a nice big mug of coffee.  Makes 12
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons high-quality cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup chopped cranberries
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (you can substitute milk, preferably whole)
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining.  Fold in the chocolate and the cranberries.
Whisk together the whole egg and 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream.  Add egg mixture to the flour mixture; using a rubber spatula, fold in, working in all directions and incorporating crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, until dough just comes together.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and gently pat into a 12×9 inch rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Using a sharp knife or a pastry wheel, cut the rectangle into 12  3-inch squares.  Place squares about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the dough is very firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. (At this point, you can freeze the unbaked scones in a resealable plastic bag until ready to bake, up to 3 weeks.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk with the remaining tablespoon heavy cream; brush over the tops of the scones and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar, if using.  Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the sugar on top of the scones turns golden all over, or a cake tester inserted int th center of a scone comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  They are best eaten the day they are baked.