It’s the holidays and I’m in a very festive mood this year. I’m loving all the Christmas songs (Twisted Sisters’ rendition of ‘Come All Ye Faithful” excluded), the decorations, the food, the chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Okay, I don’t have an open fire but, if I did, you can be sure I’d be roasting chestnuts because it’s the holidays baby!
The idea for this pie came to me upon a midnight clear. No it didn’t, I just like the carol tie-in there. I wanted to create something woodsy but, really, I was looking for an excuse to make pastry pine cones so there you go.
This pie combines two of my favourite flavours — cranberries and apples. It’s an easy filling to make which is a good thing because you’re going to have to set aside a wee bit of time to get this pie decorated. But, believe me, it’s going to be worth it when choirs of heavenly angels herald its arrival at the holiday dinner table.
Wishing you all a very happy holiday with much love. xo
Holiday Wreath Apple Cranberry Pie
A showstopping pie just in time for the holiday season!
Makes 1-9″ pie.
- 2 Batches All-Butter Pie Pastry You will need 3 discs. Save the other disc for another purpose.
- 2 lbs Gala or Courtland apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4″ pieces
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 3 tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- 1 dash salt
- 1 cup Cranberries, fresh
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp Cornstarch
Make the Apple Filling:
Place apple slices in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, cornstarch, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and salt. Toss, using a spatula, to combine, being careful not to break the apple pieces. Set aside.
Make the Cranberry Filling:
In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, granulated sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.
Roll out the dough:
Prepare two batches (4 discs) of all-butter pastry dough as directed in the recipe. Place three discs in the fridge to chill. The remaining disc can be frozen for another use.
On a piece of parchment paper, roll out one disc of dough to a 11-inch circle. Transfer and fit the dough into a 9-inch pie pan and trim to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Tuck the excess neatly under the lip of the pie plate. Transfer the pastry-lined plate to the refrigerator. Add any pie dough scraps to the bottom of one of the other pie dough discs.
Roll out the second disc of dough to a 10″ circle. Turn your pie plate upside down and gently mark a 9″ circle, being sure not to cut through the pastry. This will be your reference point as you decorate your wreath. Your decorations should not extend beyond this mark.
To make the centre of the wreath, position an upside-down bowl with a 4″ rim or a 4″ round cutter in the centre of the 9″ circle. Cut out the circle of dough. Add the circle of dough and any other pie scraps to the bottom of the third disc of dough. Slide the piece of parchment paper with your cut out wreath on it onto a rimless baking sheet and place in the refrigerator while you create your decorations.
Making the Decorations: Pine cones
Remove the third disc from the refrigerator. Divide the disc into four pieces. From one quarter, take a small piece of dough from the pastry disc and roll in with your hands into a log shape. Note: Ffor interest, your pine cone sizes should vary so aim for anywhere between 10-15 gms each. Make the log lightly wider at the top than the bottom so that it resembles a pinecone. Repeat this process 10 times. Place the logs on a parchment lined cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for 3 minutes to firm up.
Working with one log at a time (keeping the others in the freezer), use a pointed knife to press down into the dough and carefully make impressions around the pine cone. Return each pine cone to the cookie tray as you finish it. When done, you should have 10 pine cones. Place the tray to the side while you work on the other decorations. Add any remaining dough to one of the other quarters.
Make the Decorations: Holly Leaves
Roll another quarter disc of the dough to a 1/8″ thickness. Using various sized holly leaf cutters, cut approximately 20 holly leaves. Add these to the tray of pine cones. Add any remaining scraps back into one of the remaining dough quarters.
Make the Decorations: Fir Branches
Using another quarter of the dough disk, and on a well floured surface, take a small piece of dough and roll it into a long, narrow tube. Lying it flat on the surface, use a sharp knife to make diagonal incisions down the side of the tube to make the fir leaves. Do the same thing down the other side of the tube. Repeat this process until you have 12-14 fir branches. Add the branches to the cookie sheet.
Make the Decorations: Bow and Ribbon
Roll out the last quarter of the dough (along with any scraps) to an 8″ X 4″ rectangle. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut one 1-inch by 8-inch strip of pastry. Cut the strip in half so you have two 1-inch by 4-inch pieces of pastry.
Working on a parchment-lined baking sheet, wet the end of one strip with a little water and fold the other end over to meet it and form a loop. Repeat the process for the other 1-inch X 4-inch piece of pastry. Bring the two hoops together so the ends are facing each other, overlap them slightly and pinch them together (Note: this will be covered so it doesn’t have to be done neatly. It is more important to ensure that it is securely attached).
Cut one 1-inch by 4-inch piece of pastry from the remaining dough. Wrap it carefully around the pinched ends to cover them neatly. With your fingers, reach into the hoops and make small folds and bends in the ribbon to create a realistic effect.
Cut one 1-inch by 8-inch strip of pastry. Cut the strip in half so you have two 1-inch by 4-inch pieces of pastry. On the same piece or parchment-lined baking sheet that holds the bow, cut a ‘v’ shape in the end of each piece. Place the two pieces together in an upside-down v-shape. Dab a little water to secure the two pieces together at the top. Dab a little water on the top end of the ‘v’ and gentle moved the assembled bow so that it sits on top of the inverted v-shaped ribbon. Press gently to adhere. Place the baking sheet with the assembled bow on it in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up.
Make the Decorations: Holly Berries
From scraps, roll up little dough balls of various sizes. You will need approx 30-40 holly berries.
Assemble the decorations:
Working around the wreath, place the fir branches decoratively, bending and turning them to give them dimension. Note: Leave some space at the top of the wreath undecorated. This is where the bow will go. Next, place the holly leaves in and around the fir leaves, tucking them in here and there, and bending them to give them shape and dimension. Scatter the holly berries decoratively around the wreath. Finally, place the pine cones in groups of two or three around the diameter of the wreath, tucking it between the holly leaves and fir leaves in some spots. Finally, carefully move the frozen bow from the baking sheet and place at the top of the wreath. Use any leftover fir and holly leaves to fill in any bald spots. Place the wreath into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
Assemble the Pie:
Remove the chilled pie shell from the refrigerator. Add the apple filling to the shell, ensuring that the apple slices are lying flat to prevent gaps in the pie. Using your 4″ bowl or cutter as guidance, add only a single layer of apples to this area of the pie.
Add the cranberry filling mixture to the centre of the pie in a 4″ circle, over the single layer of apple pie filling.
Wet the edges of the pie bottom with egg wash. Then, using a pizza peel or a wide spatula, carefully transfer the frozen wreath from the parchment-lined cookie sheet to the top of the pie. Position it so that the centre lines up with the centre of the pie. If necessary, add some additional cranberries to cover any apple pie filling that may be showing through. Use a sharp knife to cut away excess around the edges of the pie. Gently press on the edges of the pie to adhere the top to the bottom.
Place a cookie sheet in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Return the pie to the fridge while the oven preheats.
Use egg wash and a soft pastry brush (or paint brush) to cover the pie in egg wash. Note: This is an optional step. Because the pastry is all-butter. it will brown nicely without an egg wash so you may skip this steps if you wish.
Place the chilled pie on the hot cookie sheet. Bake at 425 F for 12 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 F and continue baking for another 50-60 minutes. If the wreath begins to brown too quickly, cover it with a sheet of foil. To prevent the cranberries from burning, turn them gently halfway during baking or cover them with a round disc of foil. The pie is done when it is nicely browned and the filling is bubbling.