As promised, it's PIE WEEK!
We're starting Pie Week off with this tart, fluffy Cranberry Meringue pie. This pie is not for anyone who is a wiener about tart flavors. I mean, the filling is basically an amped up cranberry curd, so it's definitely got some zing to it. The meringue makes for a lovely contrast -- it's fluffy and lightly sweet, so it helps to balance out that intense cranberry flavor. It's surprisingly easy to throw together, especially since you can bake the pie crust ahead of time.
I think this pie is particularly interesting because it's so different than anything you'd typically find on a holiday table, but still uses seasonally-appropriate flavors/ingredients. Oh, and this pie is gorgeous in person. The color on that cranberry filling is amazing, and super festive too.
Fair warning: you HAVE to let this pie cool before cutting into it. I cut into mine way too early in my haste to take pictures before it got dark, and part of it turned into an oozy cranberry mess. (On a side note, is anyone else having a hell of a time getting their baking done and photographed before it gets dark? Ugh.) Once I let it cool and set, though, it was totally fine. Oh, and I think it'd be great with a little vanilla ice cream on the side.
Cranberry Meringue Pie
recipe adapted from First Prize Pies
makes one 9" pie
1 pie crust, baked (recipe follows, or use your favorite recipe)
1 cup sugar
4 cups fresh cranberries (about 16oz or 425g)
zest of 1 orange, plus 2 TB juice
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 TB cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TB unsalted butter
6 egg whites, at room temp
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar (superfine sugar is best, regular granulated will work too)
- Make sure your pie crust is baked according to your recipe's directions, and set aside to cool. I've included the recipe I used below.
- Preheat oven according to which option you'll use for browning your meringue (see step 13.)
- In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water, and cook over high heat until the sugar is dissolved completely, and mixture comes just to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium-high, add cranberries, and cook for about 6-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. You'll know you're ready to move on when the cranberries have finished popping.
- Stir in orange juice and zest.
- In a small/medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and salt until smooth.
- Temper the yolks by SLOWLY drizzling in 3/4 cup of the hot cranberry mixture, whisking quickly and constantly.
- Add yolk mixture to pot with cranberries, whisking steadily, and cook at a simmer until juices thicken (about 5 minutes or so).
- Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla.
- Make the meringue topping: Using a hand or stand mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar in a super clean, non-reactive bowl (metal or glass) until soft peaks form.
- Slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar and continue to whip until you have stiff, glossy peaks.
- Pour the hot cranberry mixture into the pie crust, and top with meringue. You'll want to make sure the meringue spreads all the way to the edge of the filling/crust. "Connecting" the meringue to the crust will reduce the risk of meringue shrinkage.
- Here, you have options: Broil for a few minutes (this is what I did, this time), bake at 325F for a bit until meringue is browned, or use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue.
- Set pie on a wire rack to cool until filling is set. If you cut into the pie before it is cooled, you'll have a giant cranberry mess.
- Store leftovers covered, in the fridge. The meringue will start to shrink and get a little sad, but it'll stay edible for a couple of days. Don't make this one more than a couple of hours ahead of time if you're looking to impress your guests, though. :)
Foolproof Single-Crust Pie Dough
recipe from America's Test Kitchen
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB sugar
6 TB unsalted butter, cut into quarter-inch pieces and chilled
4 TB vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces and chilled
2 TB vodka, chilled (yes, you need it, and yes, it makes a difference!)
2 TB ice water
- In your food processor, process 3/4 cup of the all-purpose flour, and the sugar and salt together until combined.
- Scatter butter and shortening over the flour mixture, and process until incorporated and the mixture begins to form uneven clumps with no remaining floury bits (about 10 seconds).
- Scrape down the bowl and redistribute dough evenly around the processor blade.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup flour over the dough, and pulse until the mixture has broken up in to pieces and is evenly distributed around the bowl (4-6 pulses).
- Transfer the dough to a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the vodka and water over the dough. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula, until the dough sticks together.
- Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a 4-inch disk, and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 2 days.
- When you're ready to roll the dough, flour your surface and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.
- Fit into 9-inch pie plate, trim excess dough, and crimp edges as desired.
- Freeze pie crust for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425F with a baking sheet inside.
- Line chilled pie crust with a double layer of aluminum foil (make sure the edges are covered), and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
- Bake on preheated baking sheet for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil, and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
- Set on cooling rack to cool completely.