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Cranberry-pear pie extends festive fruits' season

Who says cranberries are only for Thanksgiving?

With their festive hue and staying power during the cold season, the little fruits are perfect for holiday menus through the new year. And their tartness refreshes the palate in a season of rich dishes.

The classic cranberry sauce accents cheese and charcuterie platters. I like it better with Christmas ham then with the traditional bird. Revisit my 2019 column on cranberries for an easy recipe and more serving suggestions.

Cranberries still should be in good supply at local grocers. I snap them up as long as they last and stash them in the freezer to use all winter. If you can’t find them fresh, they’ll still be available frozen at your supermarket.

Whether fresh or frozen, cranberries are a delight in this pie also pairing the dried fruit with a duo of apples and pears. My latest podcast acknowledged this isn’t the best year on record for locally grown pears. But they’re still worth purchasing and enjoying in cooked preparations if their condition doesn’t suggest eating raw. Try them in pasta and risotto as a first course to a celebratory meal or as the main event for a pared-down feast.

Then finish with this eye-catching pie, courtesy of Tribune News Service. The lattice top isn’t just elegant but allows more liquid to evaporate during baking, firming up the filling. Precooking the filling also promotes thickening.

And if you don’t want to fuss over the lattice top, simply add a top crust and pierce the top with a fork in several spots to allow steam to escape. If making the crust from scratch is too time-consuming, a commercially made, ready-to-roll crust works just fine.

Pear, Double Cranberry and Apple Lattice Pie

1 recipe double crust pie dough (see recipe)

2 1/2 pounds ripe, but still a bit firm, Bartlett pears, about 6

1 1/2 pounds Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious apples, about 4

2 cups fresh cranberries, about 8 ounces

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup (4 ounces) dried cranberries

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh orange zest

1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream or milk,

Coarse sugar (or turbinado sugar)

Make the pie dough and refrigerate it as directed below. Working between 2 sheets of floured wax paper, roll out 1 disc into a 12-inch circle. Remove top sheet of wax paper and use bottom sheet to flip crust into a 10-inch pie pan. Gently smooth crust into pan, without stretching it. Roll edge of dough under so it sits neatly on edge of pie dish. Refrigerate.

Roll second disc of pie dough between sheets of floured wax paper into an 11-inch circle. Slide onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate while you make filling.

Peel and core the pears. Slice into 1/4-inch-wide wedges; put into a bowl. You should have 6 generous cups. Peel and core the apples. Cut into 3/4-inch chunks; you should have about 3 1/2 cups. Add to pears. Stir in the fresh cranberries.

In large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter; add pears, apples and fresh cranberries. Cook, stirring, until nicely coated with butter, for about 2 minutes. Cover and cook to soften fruit, for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cornstarch; cook and stir until glazed and tender, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the dried cranberries, orange zest and salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet; cool to room temperature. While fruit mixture cools, heat oven to 425 F.

Pile cooled fruit into prepared bottom crust. Use a very sharp knife to cut rolled top crust into 18 strips, each about 1/2 inch wide. Place 9 of those strips over fruit filling positioning them about 1/2 inch apart. Arrange other 9 strips over strips on pie in a diagonal pattern. (If you want to make a woven lattice, put 1 strip of dough over 9 strips on pie and weave them by lifting up and folding to weave them together.)

Crimp edge of bottom crust and lattice strips together with your fingers. Use a fork to make a decorative edge all around pie. Use a pastry brush to brush each of strips and edge of pie with the cream. Sprinkle strips and edge with the coarse sugar.

Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 F, for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Use strips of foil to lightly cover outer edge of pie. Continue baking until filling is bubbling hot and crust richly golden, for about 40 minutes more.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature topped with whipped cream or ice cream. To rewarm pie, simply set it in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Double Crust Pie Dough

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold

1/2 cup trans-fat free vegetable shortening, frozen

Put the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor. Pulse to mix well. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces; sprinkle them over flour mixture. Pulse to blend fats into flour. Mixture will look like coarse crumbs.

Put ice cubes into about 1/2 cup water and let water chill. Remove ice cubes and drizzle about 6 tablespoons ice water over flour mixture. Briefly pulse machine just until mixture gathers into a dough.

Dump mixture onto a sheet of wax paper. Gather into 2 balls, one slightly larger than other. (Use larger for bottom crust.) Flatten balls into thick discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, for about 1 hour. (Dough will keep in refrigerator for several days.)

Tribune News Service photo