Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday – I love cooking and I love eating, so it really is the perfect day. For most items served on this wonderful November Thursday, I am all about the traditional dishes. I now make the stuffing for our family’s Thanksgiving because my mom kept trying to make weird ones with wild rice or apricots. While still good, those wacky varieties were just not the same as the classic cornbread stuffing that I love so much.
However when it comes to the desserts, I like experimenting and serving unique creations as well. I mean, there are so many fun choices of pie, why stick with the same ones every year? Sometimes that works out well – like the incredibly decadent Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. And sometimes it just doesn’t work out so well – like last year’s Ginger Pumpkin Pie which no one was a fan of, and I was told this year I have to stick with Classic Pumpkin Pie, no alterations.
Our friends throw a “Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving” every year and this time, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try a new pie before the big day. Found in the SoNo Baking Company Cookbook, which was written by John Barricelli, the host of PBS’s “Everyday Baking from Everyday Food,” this pie is fantastic! It is like a pie and cobbler mixed together. While maybe not a “traditional” Thanksgiving pie, the flavors are all autumn – the cranberries are cooked into a sauce and give a delicious tartness; the pears offer great flavor, and who complains about a sweet and sugary streusel topping?
So if you need an extra pie for Thanksgiving and are willing to do something other than (boring) pumpkin pie, try this one out. It’s really a winner!
It is best when prepared several hours ahead or the day before, so it has time to let the juices be absorbed. The cranberry sauce should also be made ahead of time. My suggested timeframe is as follows:
- Tuesday – Prepare cranberry sauce and store in the refrigerator
- Wednesday morning – Make the pie crust and let freeze overnight
- Wednesday evening – Prep filling/topping of pie and bake. Once fully cooled, cover in a sealed cake stand.
- Thursday – Enjoy!
Cranberry Pear Pie with Streusel Topping
Recipe from the SoNo Baking Company Cookbook
Hands-on time: 50-55 minutes; Total time: 3 hours and 30 minutes (assuming the shortest length of time for cranberry sauce and pie to rest)
- 1/2C granulated sugar
- 1/2 C water
- 6oz fresh cranberries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Grated zest of 1/2 orange
- Pinch of coarse salt
- 1C all-purpose flour
- 1C light brown sugar
- 1/2t course salt
- 1/4t ground cinnamon
- 1/2C (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 6-7 Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled and cored, cut into 1″ pieces
- 1/4C granulated sugar
- 1/2t ground cinnamon
- 1/4t grated nutmeg
- 2T all-purpose flour
Pate Brisee Pie Crust (makes two single-crust 9″ pies):
- 2 1/4C all-purpose flour
- 2t sugar
- 1t coarse salt
- 1C (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 C ice water
1. To make the cranberry sauce: In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add the cranberries, salt, zest and cinnamon stick. Simmer over medium to low heat until the cranberries begin to break down and become juicy, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, remove the cinnamon stick and cover with plastic warp, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 2 hours but preferably overnight to let thicken.
2. To prepare the crust: Using a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream, a small portion at a time until the dough just comes together. The dough should not be wet or sticky. If the dough is too dry and does not hold together, add a bit more water. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide in two and wrap each half in plastic wrap, shaping them into flattened discs.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12″ round and fit into a 9″ pie plate, pressing into the edges. Trim to a 1/2″ overhang all around and crimp the edges. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
3. Set the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
4. To make the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add the butter and use your fingertips to quickly work it into the dry ingredients until pea-size crumbs form. Set aside in the refrigerator.
5. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, toss together the pears, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and 1 cup of the cranberry sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepare pie shell. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top, covering it completely.
6. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet (in case the filling bubbles over) and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and continue baking until the streusel turns golden brown and the juices begin to bubble, about 30-40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 1 hour (but preferably overnight) to let the juices be absorbed.
Serve at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!