23 November 2007

America: Please Make More Pies.

Dear America,
I’m worried about you. I’m worried you’re loosing your culinary traditions. I went out to buy a pie pan Monday, I’ve got a couple nice ones but I wanted a deep dish pie pan to make that chock-full-of pecans-pie for Thanksgiving. First, I went to Crate and Barrel, and when I asked about pie pans I was directed to one terribly shallow, glass Pyrex pan for $6. Not only was there no deep dish pan, there were no other pie pans. One lousy pan, for the whole store. Don’t you think there would be at least one decorative ceramic pan, what with the holidays around the corner?

I moved on to Sur La Table with high hopes, and there again I was confronted with the same one lame glass pan. America, I’m getting worried. You are not making pies. You are not making enough pies. Oh, you are making pies, but I know your secret. You’re buying those pre-made crusts, aren’t you? The premade crusts with the disposable tin pans, don’t tell me it’s so. If you were making pies regularly, you’d know that homemade pie crust is so much better, and cheaper too. If you were making pies regularly, you’d want that nice solid pretty pie pan, the one you can use over and over again.

I did finally find a pie pan, and a deep dish one at that, at Williams-Sonoma. But even then, there were only two types of pie pans on offer, and I had to pay a boatload for it and it was made in France. She’s a beauty, and I love her dearly, the way her fluted edges craddle that gooey filling. But I’m worried about you America, you must embrace your pie heritage. When I lived outside the U.S. I wanted to make a pie, but the only options were a cake pan or a tart pan, and neither does a pie make. Ever since then I’ve been rather passionate about the pie pan. Appreciate the uniquely sloped sides that make pie such an American tradition. Please go buy a pie pan, a good solid one that has the promise of years of use to come, and then make yourself a pie.

Until I get around to telling you about that pecan pie, here's a delicious Apple-Cranberry Crumble Pie we love around the holidays. It's even better served with caramel ice cream.

Apple-Cranberry Crumble Pie
I always thought the idea of combining a pie and a crumble sounded excessive until I made this one Thanksgiving and discovered how delicious it is. The bursts of tart cranberries are perfect foil for the sweet-crunchy crumble.

1 pie crust, prepared, fitted into a 9" pie pan, and refrigerated
3 large (or 4 medium) Granny Smith apples
2 cups cranberries, fresh or thawed if frozen
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tbl lemon zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
for crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats (not quick-cooking)
1/3 cup flour
pinch salt
4 tbl butter, chilled and cut in small dice

1. Preheat oven to 375 F, arrange a rack in the lower part of the oven. Have your crust chilled in the refrigerator.
2. Place sugar, flour, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples and add to the sugar mixture. Add the cranberries and toss to combine. Let mixture sit 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.
3. For the crumble topping, combine the brown sugar, oats, flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture with your fingers until it forms a coarse meal.
4. Pile the filling into the chilled crust. Scatter the crumble over top. Place the pan on a baking sheet to catch the drips and bake in the lower part of the oven for 55 minutes, or until golden and juices are bubbling. Let cool a few hours before serving.


Kendra said...

Yay! I was so glad to read this! In my family I am the pie girl for Thanksgiving! I love love love to make pies. This year I made pecan, pumpkin, blueberry, and chocolate mousse. The blueberries were hand picked by my son and I and so were the pecans. The pecan pie recipe was my grandmother-in-laws. Oh I do love pies. Can't wait for the pecan pie recipe!

Carolyn said...

That looks almost like a peace pie? And far from pecan. apple cranberry maybe?

b said...

oh, pies. pies are so lovely. my mom made the most delicious apple-cherry pie this year, oh it was delightful. i'm glad she still has her pie pans from when we lived in france though, because this lack of pie material in cooking shops is saddening me. get it together america!

Shauna said...

Oh yes! I'm baking pies, even if they are with gluten-free crusts. I insist. How could anyone do without the cool contemplation of forming the crust?

Mercedes said...

Kendra- I'm so glad you love pie making. And hand-picked blueberries and pecans, what a lucky family! I'm so glad you're keeping your traditions alive!

Carolyn- Precisely, it was an apple-cranberr-crumble pie in the making, another one we make at Thanksgiving. What is peace pie?

B- Oh, apple cherry, that sounds unusual and lovely. Do you know what kind of cherries: sour cherries, sweet ones, fresh or frozen?

Shauna- Oh, of course you made pies, and I'm so glad. It's so sad to me that people don't make their own crusts anymore when that is the best part.
I think gluten-free is pretty sympathetic to pies, my boyfriend's mom has celiac and we usually also have something like a gluten free cheesecake also.

KMDuff said...

That is a beautiful pie pan and makes my little blue pyrex deep dish pan small in comparison.

Karen D said...

I am a relief worker in the Sudan; I first found your blog while living in Jordan and I LOVE it!

I too had the pie tin problem this thanksgiving. I live out in the bush,in the middle of no-where, not a pie pan around, but we were gonna have pie. The solution - a frying pan! Who knew!
We also cooked up your grandma's cornbread dressing and it was big hit. So a great big thanks from a bunch of full and happy relief workers in Sudan!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, this made me laugh. I totally agree, though. People seem like they're either intimidated by making pie crust or too impatient to bother learning how. I'm trying to do my part to keep the tradition alive ;-).

Mercedes said...

Karen- I cannot tell you how much your comment meant to me! My grandmother would have been pleased as punch to know someone all the way in Sudan made her cornbread dressing! The power of the internet. And I'm glad you found a soution to the pie pan problem, oh how that perplexed me when I lived abroad.
I wanted to send you a private mail, I used to work for WFP, so I'm pretty familiar with the relief worker lifestyle. My friend/former boss was WFP coordinator in Sudan, and I always hear his crazy stories about living in the bush.

jef said...

I'm pretty sure America just isn't cooking anymore. If it doesn't come in a box and is reheatable in the microwave, silly yanks just don't do it.

I'm guilty of not making pies, I'm just not a fan. A gateau, a tart, some petitfours, sure, but pie is rarely done.

Anonymous said...

I just made a pumpkin ice cream pie with a graham cracker crust. Yes, I made my own crust. We make and freeze apple and blackberry pies for eating thruout the year. The reason I found this blog was that I'm looking for additional 6 3/8" pie pans (not the disposable ones)to make more small pies but alas...I haven't found them yet. We have lots of fancy pie pans we've bought in Mexico, Italy etc. I think there are more pie makers out there than you think.

Janneke said...

Just baked this pie as desert for a dinner party an received compliments only, it's a great recipe. Because they don't sell cranberries in Holland in this time of year , I replaced them for raspberries which worked out fine as well.