It’s the Holiday season, and in my opinion, the perfect baking weather. Some people think I avoid all sweets and baked goods all year long. But that REALLY isn’t the case, like at all.
I get cravings just like the rest of us. I even cave and get food I know isn’t the best for me. But for the most part, I do pretty good, not because I have insane willpower and absolutely no desire for sweet treats, but because I create a super bright line. My healthy habit I’ve established which allows me to still enjoy an occasional yummy unhealthy indulgence once in a while is that if I want something like a baked pastry, I make it myself.
Back in 2016, I won the landlord jackpot when we found our place on Whidbey Island. Our landlady was a stay-at-homer who homemade EVERYTHING. She taught me how to prepare and can salsa, green beans, and my chutney sauce I make in the summer with rhubarb. And then she did the unthinkable. She taught me to make a homemade pie.
A couple years before this, I got REALLY into cooking when I quit smoking. Not buying cigarettes was the easy part, dealing with the cravings to smoke was something I battled with. I made a deal with myself back then, which worked really well. Whenever I had a craving, I’d cook something. Didn’t matter if it was healthy or comfort food, it was better than caving into the insatiable craving for a cigarette. So, now my landlady was teaching me to make PIES.
I never got as good as Sue at making pies. But in my defense, she had been doing it for many years, and I’m still a novice. But she gave me fantastic pointers. Sauteeing the apples a little, using the egg wash, and the whole idea of using a grater to mix your hardened butter and shortening were all influences from Sue. She is quite the genius in the kitchen.
So, while I have made this recipe my own (I’ve cut a LOT of sugar out of this recipe, honestly), this week’s recipe does owe a lot of credit to Sue, my landlady who taught me the meaning of “homemaker”.
Pies are also a tricky subject. There’s nothing nutritious about pies, and so many of their ingredients are bad for the planet. In fact, if you are making a pie crust from scratch, it’s nearly impossible for you to avoid the dreaded palm oil (if you use shortening, you are consuming palm oil, no way out. If you CANNOT stand the thought of palm oil, your only other choice is using what’s called leaf lard, and while it’s AMAZING in your pie, it’s not often the easiest ingredient to get your hands on. Plus, I’ve made this recipe vegetarian, and lard of any kind will make it non-vegetarian…). This is my ONLY food which I allow myself to use palm oil. Nutiva has really high standards and is a company committed to the planet as well as quality products.
This is the perfect season for sharing this wonderful holiday indulgence. It’s so much better when you make it yourself! Have fun with the recipe. If you really want to use extra sweetener, that’s up to you, but let the flavors of the season shine through and wow your holiday guests with a homemade pie. You’ll never want to go back to store-bought pies again.
Sweet and Tart Pie
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 Tbsp butter, frozen hard
- 8 Tbsp non-hydrogenated shortening, also frozen hard
- ½ cup ice water
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 large egg, white and yolk separated
- 1 Tbsp sugar, optional
- 2-3 Tbsp butter
- 4 cups peeled Granny Smith or Braeburn apples, sliced ¼ in thick or smaller
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 cups cranberries
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 5 Tbsp cornstarch
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. Using a grater, add the margarine and shortening, cutting it into the flur with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the flour mixture appears pebbly.
- In a cup, combine 4 tablespoons of water with apple cider vinegar. Drizzle it into the flour by the tablespoon, gently mixing the flour after each addition. Gently knead dough a few times, adding more water until it holds together.
- Divide dough in half. Create a round disc with each section and wrap them separately in parchment paper or a beeswax wrap. Place in a container, one on top of the other and let set in a fridge for 2-6 hours.You can also start making the pie immediately, but I have found it’s better to let it sit in the fridge for a while.
- When you are ready to make the pie, take one pie disk out of the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board. Use a rolling pin to roll dough into a circle about ¼ inch thick. Be careful not to OVER roll it, flip the crust over a few times to help even out the circle. Also, start your rolling pin from the center of the disk and roll to one edge of the crust. Once it is rolled out, drape the crust over a pie pan. This is your base crust.
- Whisk the egg white, and brush it on the inside of the base crust.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the apples and honey to the pan. Gently stir and mix until the apples are just soft.
- Set the oven for 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine apple mixture, cranberries, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Mix gently until cornstarch is dissolved.
- Fit the bottom crust into the pie plate. Pile in the filling and gently press to spread the filling until it is level.
- Repeat rolling out the remaining dough as with the first portion. Using a sharp knife, cut the top crust into 8 strips, each about 1 in wide. Place 4 strips evenly spaced across top of pie. Weave remaining 4 strips at 90 degree angle, creating a lattice pattern.
- Pinch the edges of the strips and the bottom crust together, trimming any excess dough. Crimp the edge of the pie crust.
- Whisk the egg yolk and brush the top crust with the egg wash. This will give the crust a lovely crispy brown coloring.
- If you want, sprinkle a little brown natural cane sugar over the pie crust. Place the pie on a flat baking sheet (like a pizza pan) and place in the oven. Bake on 425 for about 20-25 minutes. Then lower the baking temperature to 350 and let pie bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the filling bubbles up through the holes of the lattice. Cover the pie with foil if crust starts getting too brown.
- Remove pie from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.