When my sister and I were kids about 7 and 8, we earnestly decided that the very best pie in the world would be one made with 20 ingredients.
The number 20 was magical but not random. Though I don’t remember exactly how we got there, but I think it was inspired by a book about a witches’ brew, because eye of newt was one of our ingredients (my mother convinced us that raisins made a fine substitute).
Making such a pie required ransacking the cupboards, fridge, and fruit bowl to extract every variety of fruit, spice, and nut we could find until we had amassed enough volume to fill a (usually purchased) piecrust. Although 20 ingredients was the goal, it was seldom reached. We tended to give up around 15. But even so, the pies were amazing to our sugar-obsessed little girl taste buds.
This is my grown-up version. With my well-stocked pantry, hitting 20 was pretty easy. And I have to admit, this pie is a lot better than those thrown-together assemblages of my childhood (a homemade crust helps). Although the number 20 is nostalgic, it also makes sense here because the combination of apples, pears, cranberries, and rum-raisins nestled beneath a nut and oat crumb topping is both harmonious and profound. The rich, autumnal flavors work really well together to make an urban-style harvest pie – perfect for Thanksgiving, no eye of newt needed.
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/3 cup dark rum
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 apples (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 large pears (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1. On a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll the pie dough into a 3/8-inch-thick round. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the dough, use your thumb and forefinger to flute the edges, and chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling (or for up to 1 day; lightly cover the dough with plastic if leaving for more than 2 hours).
2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the raisins and rum with 1/3 cup water. Stir in the brown sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat, cover, and let cool to room temperature.
3. In a large bowl, combine the apples, pears, cranberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. When the raisin mixture has cooled, scrape it into the fruit mixture, tossing well to combine. Allow the fruit mixture to rest at room temperature while you bake the crust.
4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the crust with foil, fill with pie weights, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake the crust until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and remove the foil and weights.
5. Scrape the filling into the crust, piling the fruit into a mound in the center so it does not spill out. Return the pie to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the crumb topping. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until large crumbs form. Carefully remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle the crumb topping all over the filling. Return the pie to the oven and bake until the fruit is very tender and the juices are bubbling, another 30 to 35 minutes. Check after 20 minutes; if the crumb topping looks too brown, tent the pie with a sheet of foil. Allow the pie to cool for 25 to 30 minutes on a wire rack before serving.
From In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark. Copyright © 2010 Melissa Clark, Inc. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved.
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