Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Pie Baking Hack

I love pie. A lot. The year I was married, I found a recipe for an apple cranberry pie with a pecan crumble topping. I can't remember where I found it, but I've made so many changes to it that I call it my own. It is by far my favorite pie, but it is a lot of work to prepare. Since I have two toddlers running around, and another bebe rolling around in my womb, topped with my ITP, I'm pretty exhausted. But I NEED THIS PIE! I have come up with a few little hacks to save some time in making this delicious pie.

First. I bought pre-chopped pecans. I know this sounds like a waste, but this also saves me from using the food processor to chop them and blend them in with the sugars. Since they're already small, I just toss them in the mixing bowl with the sugars, flour, salt, and small pieces of cold butter, and work it all together with my hands. It doesn't take long at all.

(Delicious crumbly topping)

The next tip is to buy a pre-made pie crust. Yes, your homemade one is going to taste a million times better, but I do not have the time it takes to prepare this delicious, buttery, flaky crust. So I bought a two-pack at the store, and I'll use the other one for Christmas.

(Pie ready to bake, in the pre-made pie crust)

Thirdly, for an apple pie, invest in an apple peeler/slicer/corer. Five seconds, and your apple is ready to go. Seriously. Get one.

(Amazon link)

Last, bake ahead of time. I'm sure a lot of you who prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal do this, but I have yet to do this, and I'm busy with prenatal and hematology appointments, so making the pie ahead of time is saving me from going insane!

Now for the recipe. I'm going to disregard the pie crust part, because we are saving time!


3 medium apples (for this round, I used one Braeburn, one Honeycrisp, and one Gala)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 granulated sugar (you could use turbinado as well)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (I use ReaLemon because it's quicker!)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 T flour

1/2 c pecans (get the pre-chopped ones!)
1/3 c sugar (since I'm halving this recipe, I used approximately half each of brown sugar and granulated sugar)
1/4 c + 2 T flour (give or take, since, again, this is half the recipe)
1/2 t salt
1/4 c (half a stick) cold unsalted butter

Use your handy apple peeler/corer/slicer to take care of your three apples, cut those in half (for gorgeous, uniform slices), toss them in a large-ish mixing bowl with your cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Mix real well and set it aside for 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400° with a dark baking sheet (lined with foil!) inside. Apparently this makes the bottom of the pie more crisp.

In your set-aside bowl, add cinnamon and flour and mix lightly. Turn mixture into your frozen pie shell and place the pie in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes.

While the pie is baking, we can now prepare the mouth-watering topping! To save on dishes, I just rinsed out the bowl I used for the filling and dried it. Toss in your chopped pecans and your sugar and mix them together with your fingers. Add the flour and salt and mix again. I like to cut the cold butter into little squares for easier working. Toss the squares in with the mixture and cut in the butter with your fingers until they resemble the crumbs in the photo above. It only takes about 5 minutes to accomplish this.

When the pie is done baking, remove and place your topping on top and pat it a bit so it stays in place. REDUCE YOUR OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 375°! Put your pie back in the oven for about 20 minutes and bake. Then place a foil tent over your pie and bake another 15 minutes. This last part helps your topping to stay golden brown instead of burned!

Once it's finished baking, let it cool completely then you can cover it with foil again and get it ready for transport. Great, now I want to eat it and I have to wait 2 whole days!

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