As far as I’m concerned, cranberries are the quintessential holiday fruit. From sauce and stuffing to cheesecake and scones, the tart flavour and beautiful ruby colour of cranberries just make me feel all warm, cozy and hungry inside! Specifically, there’s something about the combination of fresh orange and cranberries that gets my tastebuds tingling. Tuck them into some flaky, sweet pastry and you’ve got a serious flavour magic happening right there.
Like all cranberry dishes, it’s fair to say that this pie is on the tart side .. not lip puckering but definitely not your sweet fruit pie. To offset that tartness, you’ll need to add more sugar than your typical fruit pie. But, when it’s coupled up with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, this pie is heaven on a plate. If I still haven’t convinced you, feel free to use whatever filling you like for this pie design (keeping in mind that fruit with a bit of colour, like blueberry or cherry, will give more of a ‘wow’ factor to the finished pie).
If the idea of making two types of pastry for this pie makes you want to take a nap, you can use butter pastry alone but I do encourage you to give the chocolate dough a go. Your food processor is your BFF here. This video shows you how easy it is to make chocolate pastry.
While cranberries are high in pectin (a natural thickener), they are also 90% water so I pre-cook the filling to control the juiciness, keep my cut-outs looking good post-bake and avoid the dreaded soggy bottomed pie.
Okay, let’s talk decorating. If you follow my Instagram feed, you may have noticed that I have a thing for leaves this Fall. I’ve been breaking out every leaf cutter I own lately, in all varieties, shapes and sizes. Apparently, I still haven’t exhausted my supply because, when I was thinking about a turkey-themed cranberry pie, I immediately thought of … more leaves!
This design is surprisingly easy to pull together. Most of the work can be done off the pie so you can fuss with the placement of the leaves to your heart’s content while your filling cools and your pie shell stays in the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife or X-acto to cut the turkey body and border using this stencil. Then, build your feathers with cutters like these or whatever ones you have. I made the short feathers using the top of a decorating tip. If you want to get a variegated effect to those feathers, just roll a little chocolate and butter pastry together and cut out your circles. The feet, beck and wattle (insert giggle here) can be cut freehand.
Once you’ve finished decorating, pop your pie top into the freezer for about 10 minutes to get it really cold before moving it to your pie. I use this to move the lid from the cookie tray to the pie but any large bbq lifter will do the trick (just make sure your pastry is really cold). The border can be created on the pie with any leaf cutters that you have available.
Once your pie is in the oven, feel free to take a few minutes to nibble on some leftover chocolate pastry (kidding-not-kidding) or do a happy pie dance because …. you’ve got a turkey in the oven. Woohoo!
What’s the hardest part about making this pie? Waiting for it to cool down before gobbling it all up! Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and happy whatever-excuse-you-need-to-make-this-pie to everyone else. Enjoy!
Orange-scented Cranberry Pie
- 1 Batch Chocolate Pastry Dough
- 1 Batch All-butter Pastry Dough
- 4 cups fresh (washed) or frozen cranberries (not thawed).
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp grated orange peel
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
To prepare the all-butter pastry:
Prepare the dough as directed. 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 while you make the filling
To make the filling:
Place the cranberries, sugar, grated orange peel, orange juice, salt and cornstarch in a medium sized pot. Toss lightly with a spatula to mix the ingredients together.
Over a medium heat, warm the ingredients, stirring gently occasionally, until the cranberries start to pop and crack (about 5 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook, stirring the mixture lightly to keep the cranberries as intact as possible,until the mixture thickens and becomes a bit jammy (another 4-5 minutes). Taste the cranberry mixture. If it is still a bit tart for your likening, add a bit more sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until you find the sweetness level you like.
Remove the cranberry mixture from the heat and spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool for at least 15 minutes while you make the chocolate dough and your decorations. The filling will continue to thicken as it cools.
To make the chocolate dough and decorations:
Prepare the chocolate pie pastry as directed. On a piece of parchment, roll out one disc of dough to a 11-inch circle (Use the other disc of another purpose or freeze, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months). Place the dough on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge for 5 minutes to firm up.
On a piece of parchment, roll out the 2nd disc of all-butter pastry to a 11-inch circle. Using your pie plate as a guideline, cut out a 10-inch circle (1″ beyond the diameter of your pie plate to allow for shrinkage). Place the circle of dough and the remaining scraps on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge for 5 minutes to firm up again.
Remove the cookie sheet with the rolled out circle all-butter pastry from the refrigerator. Position your stencil over the dough circle so that it is centered, and use a sharp knife or x-acto knife to cut out the body and the feather border for your turkey. Return the pastry circle on the cookie sheet to the fridge, leaving the scraps out on the counter so you can make your leaves.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut 12 x 1-inch leaves from the all-butter pastry scraps and place them on the cookie sheet. Cut another 20 x 1/2-inch leaves for the border and place them on the cookie sheet. Set aside.
Remove the rolled out circle of chocolate pastry from the refrigerator. Using 2-inch leaf cutters of your choice, cut out 12 chocolate leaves and place them on the cookie sheet with the all-butter cut outs. Cut out 20 X 1-inch border leaves (the same size you used for your feather border) and place these on the sheet as well.
Roll your leftover scraps of all-butter pastry together with some chocolate pastry. Using a decorating tip or cutter with a 1/2-inch opening, make the short feathers but cutting approximately 24 circles. Place these on the cookie sheet with the other leaves and return the tray to the refrigerator to cool for 5 minutes.
To assemble the Pie:
Adjust a oven rack to the middle lower position in your oven and place a cookie sheet on the rack. Preheat your oven to 425° F.
Make an egg wash by whisking one egg and 1 tbsp milk in a small bowl. Set aside. Remove the 10″ circle of all-butter dough and your tray of leaves from the fridge. Dip a pastry brush in the egg yolk mixture and dab the area between the torso and feather border cut-outs on your pastry circle. Apply the circles by overlapping them in rows. Next, dab some egg wash on the area to the left side of your feather border cut-out. Place your chocolate 2-inch feathers, slightly overlapping in a fan shape, leaving a 1/2-inch space between them and the feather border cut-out. Lastly, place your all-butter 1-inch leaves in a fan shape against the edge of the border-cut out, overlapping your chocolate leaf feathers slightly. Return the decorated pie top, on the cookie tray, to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up.
In the meantime, remove your pie shell from the refrigerator and scrape the cooled filling into the pie shell. Using a pastry brush, apply some egg wash around the edge of the pie.
Remove the pie top from the freezer. Using a cake lifter, pizza peel or large BBQ lifter, transfer the pie top to the top of your filled pie. Press lightly to adhere the edges.
Brush more egg wash along the border of the pie. Add the 1/2″ chocolate leafs and the 1-inch all-butter pastry leaves decoratively around the border of the pie.
Brush the pie gently and evenly with some of the remaining egg wash. Transfer the pie to the pre-heated oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375°F. Bake for another 4-50 minutes until the pie is golden brown and the filling is beginning to bubble within the cutouts. Let the pie cool for at least 2 hours before serving to ensure it is completely set.