Thanksgiving Pie

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Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we love sampling foods and enjoying food related stories from the far reaches of the world.  If you want pie, we invite you to come and visit our speck of earth, the American Midwest.  The old saying “as American as mom and apple pie” conjures up images of a simple life, picking apples on the prairies and plains of America’s heartland and baking them into fresh pastries with your apron-clad mother or grandmother.  As much as I hate clichés, I live in the Midwest, own two aprons (one of which belonged to my Great-Grandma), and take good care of my apple trees.  Do with that what you will.

This recipe for Thanksgiving Pie merges an American favorite with an American holiday – the Thanksgiving holiday.  Celebrated every year on the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving remembers harvest dinners shared by pilgrims arriving from Europe and the Native American people who kept those pilgrims alive through their first winter in the New World.  The history is tainted by the fact that this kindness was not reciprocated later, but the holiday is still observed with a modern approach of generally being thankful for our blessings now.  For many Americans, it’s a lovely day involving a lovely meal.  This pie blends three autumn harvest flavors… apples, cranberries, pecans… and reminds me of Thanksgiving all year ’round.  I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients (serves 8)

Crust:

1 1/4 cups white flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/3 cup cold, unsalted butter (please use real butter for this!)

3 tablespoons vodka

2 tablespoons cold water

1 egg

picture809Filling:

6 cups peeled, sliced apples (I used 8 small, Macintosh apples)

1/4 cup cranberries (frozen are fine)

1/4 cup pecan halves (I used raw, unsalted)

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

picture802Directions

Step 1) Combine 1 1/4 cup flour, salt, and allspice in a small mixing bowl.  Add cold butter.  Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry cutter, until mixture resembles a bowl of pea-size crumbs.

Step 2) Sprinkle water and vodka over butter mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Don’t dump the liquid all in one place!  Gently incorporate until a ball of dough forms.  If you need to use your hands, that’s fine.

picture803Step 3) Roll dough on a lightly floured countertop using a lightly floured rolling pin until the dough is approximately a 12 inch circle.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle, no matter what some cookbooks tell you (we’ll fix it later, don’t worry).

Step 4) Fold the dough over the rolling pin to transfer to a deep dish pie pan.  Simply pat the dough lightly into place.  If the dough tears, don’t freak out, just patch it back together with your fingers.  I won’t tell anyone, and seriously, nobody will notice if your crust isn’t picture perfect.  Carry on…

picture805Step 5) This is why we don’t care if the crust is a perfect circle… use a small knife to slice off all of the dough that hangs past the edges of your pan!  We’ll make it look all fancy in a moment, but for now, we just want the dough even with the edges.

Step 6) Using a tiny cookie cutter or other mold, cut tiny shapes (approximately 1 square inch) from the dough scraps.  Set shapes aside.

Step 7) Cover your pie crust with a towel, and make your filling… Combine your apple slices, cranberries, pecans, sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and cardamom in a large bowl.  Mix gently until ingredients are combined.

picture810Step 8) Sprinkle the bottom of your pie crust with shredded coconut.  This is entirely optional, and you really won’t taste the coconut.  This steps helps to absorb excess liquid from the pie filling.  If you don’t like coconut, try sprinkling the bottom of your pie crust with finely ground pecans.

Step 9) Pour your filling into your pie pan.  Isn’t it pretty?

picture813Step 10) Brush beaten egg around the top edge of your pie crust, and stick on the little dough shapes you cut a few minutes ago.  Just work with what you have, and try to space your little dough shapes evenly.  There, look at that lovely pie crust!  No perfect circle required.

Step 11) Bake your pie on a low rack in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy!

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