I've been baking this unique version of apple pie ever since I saw it on the cover of Bon Appetit in 1993. In many ways, this pie represents our Thanksgiving holiday. The magazine article explains the recipe, and its symbolism, quite well:
"Thanks to the native Wampanoags, the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 were quickly introduced to such important New Work foods as cranberries and corn. The newcomers returned the favor by planting apples, which flourished and were soon available in many American varieties. This wonderful holiday pie, with its cornmeal crust and mixed-fruit filling, celebrates that early culinary sharing. It's a delicious combination of some of our most traditional American flavors."
This pie takes a little more time than your traditional apple pie to prepare. Cutting out the leaves for the top crust is worth the time and effort because the end result is so pretty. The crust is not a flaky crust like most of us are used to. It's a heavier crust that has a definite texture of cornmeal, but I really liked the change. The rustic flavors of this pie blend very well together.
COLONIAL TIMES APPLE-CRANBERRY PIE WITH CORNMEAL CRUST
Crust 2 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal 5 tablespoons sugar 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, room temperature 6 tablespoons (about) buttermilk
Filling 1 cup fresh cranberries 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 3 pounds Pippin apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices 1/2 cup dried currants 5 tablespoons all purpose flour Buttermilk
For crust: Mix first 5 ingredients in processor. Add shortening and cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Blend in enough buttermilk by tablespoons to form dough that begins to clump together. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill 45 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)
For filling: Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Coarsely chop cranberries with sugar and pumpkin pie spice in processor. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add apples, currants and flour and toss well.
Roll out 1 dough disk between sheets of waxed paper to 13-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper; invert dough into 9 1/2-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish. Peel off paper. Fold under overhanging dough to form double-thick edge. Crimp edge. Roll out remaining dough disk on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch-thick round. Using 3-inch-long leaf cookie cutter, cut out leaves. Using knife, mark veins in leaves. Slightly mound filling in pie dish. Arrange leaves around edge of pie and all over top, overlapping decoratively. Brush pastry all over with buttermilk.
Place pie on baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes. Cover pie with foil and continue baking until juices bubble thickly and crust browns, about 35 minutes more. Transfer pie to rack and cool 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.