These miniature pies are full of flavor and are sure to be a crowd pleaser this Thanksgiving. When my mom brought home a bag of fresh cranberries from Nantucket this season, I just knew I had to put them to good use. Nantucket Cranberries bring a hint of tartness to your traditional apple pie and a bright pop of color as well. Of course you could bake this pie in a traditional pie tin, but these mini tins are just so cute! Do you ever make mini pies?
I paired this tangy cranberry and apple filling with a hearty whole grain piecrust to create a pie that will make your autumn occasion very special. Cooking the cranberries with sugar and orange peel before combining them with the apples gives the pie better texture and flavor, while the chopped pecans add nice crunch. Sometimes if you don’t cook the cranberries before adding them to the pie, I find they can be very bitter. As much as I love traditional apple pie, I love to change things up every once in awhile and serve these pies with my Thanksgiving dinner.
2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold butter
6 to 9 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel (zest)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup orange or cranberry juice
6 tablespoons chopped pecans
3 large, firm, tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
For the crust: In a large bowl whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar if using. With a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal.
Dice the butter into 1/2″ cubes, toss them in the flour mixture to coat, and cut them in until the largest pieces are the size of a dime.
Sprinkle the ice water over the flour/fat mixture, tossing with a fork, using 2 tablespoons at a time. Continue until the dough is just moist enough to hold together. Gather it into a ball, cut it in half and flatten the halves into two disks. Wrap the pieces of dough and refrigerate to give them a rest for 30 minutes or more before rolling them out.
For the crumb toping: In a bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into cubes. With your hands, work in butter pieces, until large clumps form.
For the filling: In a medium saucepan, cook the cranberries with the sugar, orange peel, flour and juice over medium heat until the mixture simmers and is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and cool.
To assemble the pie: Lightly grease 4 miniature pie tins or a 9″ pie plate, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll out half the pie dough and fit it into the prepared plate. Sprinkle half the pecans over the dough. Place the apples on top of the nuts, then dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Pour the cooled cranberry mixture over the apples and sprinkle on the remaining pecans. Sprinkle on crumb mixture.
Bake the pie for 60 minutes (check after 20 and cover the edges with a pie shield or foil if necessary), until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling in the center. Remove from the oven and cool before slicing.