After stuffing my face for the past two months with cakes, pies, cookies, crumbles, crisps and cheesecakes, I seem to have come away with very few pictures to show for it (and all too many pounds..dammit). What follows are the only souvenirs I could find of some memorable bakes served at a ‘Thanksmas’ dinner we hosted for friends (on Dec 12th, hence the name..otherwise it was my 4th annual Thanksgiving do here in the UK) and at my family’s Christmas Day meal. First up, a beautifully moorish sour cream pumpkin pie from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, followed by a sweet & gooey pecan pie made with Lyle’s Golden Syrup. I can only offer the ‘before’ picture for that one because unfortunately I didn’t manage to snap the finished product before it was devoured. Next up is an adaptation of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Gascon Apple Pie from the Pie & Pastry Bible. This boozy treat is actually my You Want Pies With That? entry for December. I got to choose the theme this time, woohoo!!! So please have a look at what the other lovely piemakers have offered up as their ‘holiday spirit‘ pies. And the final picture is really the only snap I’ve got of two phenomenal cheesecakes: my celebration stalwart, a luscious White Chocolate (Orange-) Cranberry Swirl number, and the Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book (with an oreo cookie crust, whipped cream piping and a gorgeous blackberry compote topping).
You can find the recipe for the pumpkin pie here – this is the fourth time I’ve made it, and it won’t be the last. Rose’s Pecan Pie can be found on page 302 of the P&P Bible and I think it’s earned it’s place as my new Go2, although (as I always find with pecan pies) I had to bake it about 20 mins longer than recommended. Luckily my pie shield saved the crust from overbrowning. The Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake was a recent SMS bake and you can find the recipe here on Shandy’s lovely site. It cratered on me the first time around so I didn’t post in time (shame on me). The one pictured above also cracked and fell slightly (I covered that up with piping and blackberry compote), but I think I figured out the culprit – I love crumb crusts so much that I always do enough to coat the sides of the tin too and that’s never been a problem with my stalwart. But I’m pretty sure thatcheesecakes (without side crusts) usually pull away a bit from the tin, so I’m betting that with a crust and without the *give* offered by a fruit swirl for example, the poor cheesecake could do nothing but crack. At least, that’s my guess… I promise to post the YWPWT apple pie recipe after we get back from Dorset, as I made some changes to Rose’s original based on what my liquour cabinet (haha, I wish) had to offer and what the holiday season called for – cranberries.
Boozy Cran-Apple Pie
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Gascon Apple Pie
4 medium apples – peeled, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 cup cranberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup brandy (or cognac)
1/2 tsp orange extract
3/4 cups walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
7 tbs unsalted butter, melted
12 sheets of filo
powdered sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, gently toss the apples and cranberries with the sugars, salt and alcohol. Cover tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hrs (or overnight – in which case, refrigerate them). Drain the fruit, reserving the juice. You should have about 1 cup. Using a small saucepan, reduce the liquid until you have approximately 4 tablespoons. Add the orange extract then pour the liquid over the fruit and mix in the walnuts.
Preheat the oven to 375F. With a pastry brush, lightly coat the bottom of the pie pan with some of the melted butter. Place the filo sheets between two sheets of plastic wrap and cover with a damp towel – re-cover each time you remove a sheet to stop the rest from drying out. Remove 1 sheet and quickly brush it with unsalted butter (don’t worry about coating every inch, too much butter will just result in a greasy texture anyway). Drape the filo sheet in the pan, molding it to fit and letting the excess drape over the sides. Repeat with 7 more buttered sheets. Empty the fruit mixture into the filo-lined pan, bringing the overhanging bits up and over to enclose the filling partially. Brush another 2 sheets with butter and fold them crosswise in half. Butter them again on both sides, then place them on top of the filling, covering it completely, and tuck the ends into the sides of the pie pan. There will be a depression in the center. Butter another sheet of filo and cut it in half. Gather up each piece in loose ruffles and arrange it toward the centre of the pie to partially fill the depression. Butter the final piece of filo and fold it in the long way into thirds. Coil it loosely to form a rose and place it in the center. Bake the pie for 50 to 60 mins or until the filo is golden and a skewer inserted into the fruit filling meets with little resistance. Allow the pie to cool to room temp as the moistened pastry can be a bit tough when warm. Dust lightly with powdered sugar before serving.
This was the perfect end to my family’s Christmas Day meal. Biting into the crisp pastry to find deliciously caramelized apples & cranberries made for a lovely treat – and the boozy kick made things all the more merry. Enjoy!