I love, love, love apple pie. There’s never a Thanksgiving when I don’t make an apple pie. It’s a Thanksgiving dessert staple. I’m always experimenting and creating new variations on the classic apple pie and this chai spiced apple cranberry pie does not disappoint. It is just SO GOOD.
If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I love my coffee. But, in the fall and winter, I love a good chai tea or chai tea latte. So comforting on a chilly day. This chai spiced apple cranberry pie is perfect chilly weather comfort food, with the perfectly spiced flavors of chai and orange, with sweet and tart apples, and a tart pop of cranberry. I used a variety of warm spices that can be found in chai tea blends – cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Cardamom, to me, is so quintessentially chai and a must-have in this recipe, so definitely don’t skip out on it.
My favorite apple to bake with is granny smith apples, so in this recipe, I used a mixture of granny smith and honey crisp apples. Honey crisps taste amazing – they’re a bit sweeter than granny smith apples and they are great to bake with as they retain their texture well. I used fresh cranberries since they are popping up in stores this time of year, but you can use frozen if you can’t find fresh. The cranberries add a juiciness and tartness to the pie, and they just go so well with apples and the chai spices.
My chai spiced apple cranberry pie starts with a foundation of an amazing tender, flaky and flavorful crust. I used my all butter pie dough for this pie, so for all things pie dough, check out my recipe here. Not up to making your own, or trying to save some time? Store bought works just fine here too.
To optimize the flavor for this pie, I mix the apples with the orange juice, zest, spices, sugars and salt and leave them in a colander over a large bowl to macerate, or drain off the juices for about 40 minutes. This drains the apples of excess liquid, which helps keep the apples from getting too soft and mushy when baking. The reserved liquid gets boiled down to thicken slightly and become more concentrated in flavor. The apples are then mixed together with the concentrated liquid, cornstarch and cranberries before being layered into the pie crust.
Apples tend to shrink a bit when baking, which can leave a gap between the crust and the apples when the pie is cooling. Macerating the apples helps shrink them and reduce their water content which helps with reducing the gap. Layering in the apples with the cranberries also help reduce any excess space. Mounding the apples and overfilling keeps the pie more full once baked.
Brushing the pie with a mixture of egg and water helps the crust bake up to be perfectly golden brown. I sprinkle demerara sugar over the crust for extra crunch and sweetness. The best way to tell when a fruit pie is done baking, is to bake until the juices are bubbling. This ensures that the pie is fully cooked and also has activated and cooked the thickening agent.
I like to start baking my fruit pies at a higher temperature first to help “set” the crust. This allows for the pie dough to bake a bit faster, and not become soggy from just stewing in the fruit juices. It also allows for the crust to start to brown as well, so when the pie is finished baking, it’s a deep golden brown. The temperature is then reduced to allow the pie bake the pie fully, without the potential for the crust to burn.
When the pie comes out of the oven, the filling will be bubbling and your kitchen will smell incredible. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to let the pie cool for a few hours in order to thicken up and set the filling. The chai spiced apple cranberry pie is best served slightly warm, and as Matt prefers it, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Chai Spiced Apple Cranberry Pie
- 1 recipe, All Butter Pie Dough
- 8 apples (about 3 lbs), peeled and sliced to 1/4" I used half granny smith and half honeycrisp apples.
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of a orange
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Prepare the pie crust:
- On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough, keeping the other disk refrigerated. Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter.
- Place the dough onto the pie dish. Ease the dough, without stretching, into the pie dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the lattice:
- On a floured work surface, roll out the second disk of dough, also to a 12" diameter.
- Cut 10-12 evenly sized strips using a pizza cutter or a knife. Lay the strips on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Prepare the filling:
- Position the baking rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 425F and place a large baking sheet on the center of the rack.
- In a large bowl, combine the apples, orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and salt and mix to combine.
- Transfer the apples to a large colander and place over a bowl. Let the apples macerate and release their juices for at least 40 minutes or for as long as two hours.
- Pour the drained liquid into a small saucepan along with the butter over medium low heat. Place the apples back into the bowl.
- Cook the liquid until slightly thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Add the cranberries, cornstarch and liquid to the apples and mix to combine.
Compile the pie:
- Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Layer the apples and cranberries into the pie crust, creating a mound in the center.
- Remove the lattice strips from the refrigerator. Lay 5 to 6 strips, evenly spaced over the pie.
- Weave the remaining strips over and under, perpendicular to the first set of strips to create a lattice. Adjust the strips to ensure they are evenly spaced.
- Trim any excess dough over 2". Fold and tuck the dough on the edges to create an outer ridge and to ensure the lattice and bottom crusts are adhered.
- Flute the edge, or crimp with a fork.
- Whisk together the egg and the water. With a pastry brush, brush the lattice top and the edges with a thin layer of the egg wash.
- Lightly sprinkle demerara sugar over the lattice crust.
- Place the pie on the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.
- Let the pie cool for 3 hours to allow the filling to set, or until just warm.