By SARAH SEPANEK
This time of year, everyone is trying to squeeze as much autumn splendor as they can into every part of their day. Pumpkin everything. Apple everything. Carmel and coffee and warm, sweet spice. Every store, farmers market or produce stand is stocked with fresh fall treats. The possibilities for great recipes are endless.
These two pies — Nantucket Cranberry and Pear Pie and Apple Tatin — are a welcome treat for any autumn day.
Since there are so many delicious apples to choose from, I wanted to make something with apples that didn't involve crust from scratch, something I'm not too good at. When I was picking out apples, I also noticed some lovely pears, and picked up a few. I recalled being introduced to the apple tatin when I was in New York City at Anthony Bourdain's Le Halles Brasserie, though I passed over the dessert in favor of the classic creme brulee. The pears I could throw in one of my favorite desserts to make, Nantucket Cranberry Pie, which I discovered from the Pioneer Woman blog.
Both pies are very easy to make, and very tasty. Pair a slice with a pumpkin spiced coffee, or a mug of hot cider.
Nantucket Cranberry and Pear Pie
Butter, for greasing
2 heaping cups cranberries
1/2 pear, cored and diced
3/4 cups pecans, chopped (measure, then chop)
2/3 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Generously butter a cake pan or pie pan. Add cranberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on pears, chopped pecans, then sprinkle on 2/3 cup sugar.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, one cup sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract and salt. Stir gently to combine.
Pour batter slowly over the top in large ribbons in order to evenly cover the surface. Spread gently if needed.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Five minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle surface with a tablespoon sugar for a little extra crunch.
Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 1/4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 12 pieces
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the apples in an overlapping circle around the dish.
Combine one cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color. Swirl the pan but do not stir. Pour evenly over the apple slices.
Meanwhile, cream six tablespoons butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the sour cream, zest and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.
Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If an apple slice sticks, ease it out and replace it on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners' sugar.