There are few foods more closely associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas than cranberries. Cooked down as a sauce, cranberries are the traditional accompaniment to the big turkey dinner, but the tart juicy fruit also show up in pies, scones, and other recipes throughout the season.
Cranberries grow in the cooler regions of the Northern hemisphere as the fruit on low vines in bogs. They're harvested by flooding the bog which allows the fruit to rise to the surface for collection. If you've driven across the New England region of the United States in the fall, you may have passed by a bright red cranberry bog.
Although they're edible when picked, cranberries aren't very tasty on their own. The overwhelmingly acidic flavor and bitterness masks any sweetness and most of the berries will end up being processed into juice and jams. Some will also be dried and sweetened to be sold year round as snacks and salad toppers. And others will be sold fresh or flash frozen for home cooks to make their own sauces and pies.
Plenty of holiday pies include apples or pears in with the cranberries, but it's truly a treat to just use the berries in one by themselves. When mixed with sugar, the naturally tart fruit lend a great sweet and sour flavor to the pie and just begs for a big dollop of fresh sweetened whipped cream or, better still, a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Use a homemade pie crust or save the time and buy your favorite ready-made shell from the store.
- 2 pie crusts (storebought or homemade)
- For the Filling:
- 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- For the Topping:
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, combine the cranberries with the granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, salt and lemon zest. Toss together and allow to sit for a few minutes. Drain any liquid that might form.
On a floured surface, roll out one pie crust to approximately a 9-inch circle and drape into an 8-inch pie plate.
Pour the cranberry filling into the pie crust and top with the other crust.
Crimp the edges to seal and cut a slit across the top to vent steam. Alternatively, you can use small leaf and other autumn-themed cookie cutters to create a top crust with shapes. Brush the top crust or cut-outs with the heavy cream and dust with the additional tablespoon of sugar.
Place on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.