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Our five favorite Thanksgiving pies

Watch Boston Globe Food editor Sheryl Julian make apple pie with foolproof pastry.
Watch Boston Globe Food editor Sheryl Julian make apple pie with foolproof pastry.

1. Apple lattice pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

My friend and co-author Julie Riven makes this pie for all fall holidays. The recipe comes from her Montreal grandmother, who made it for decades. In Julie’s family, this high pie with a very crisp crust is known as “Granny Fanny’s Apple Pie.” We adapted the pastry recipe for a food processor. Adding an egg to the dough makes rolling and patching easier. The vinegar in the egg helps keep the pastry flaky. The instructions here call for a lattice top. Cut the strips with a long sharp knife, a pizza cutter, or a ravioli cutter. Place the second set of strips diagonally on the first, then brush them with milk and sprinkle with sugar before baking.



2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons sugar

12 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons ice water

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar Extra flour (for sprinkling)

Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar to blend them. Add the butter and work in on-off motions until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Stir the ice water into the egg. Add the liquids to the processor and pulse just until the mixture forms large clumps (not a ball).

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and cut through it with a pastry blender or blunt knife to distribute the moisture. Shape the dough into 2 pieces. Wrap each in foil and refrigerate for 20 minutes.


8 medium cooking apples (such as Cortland, Mutsu, or Golden Delicious)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons whole milk (for brushing)

Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.


2. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Slice them thinly. In a bowl, toss the apples, sugar, lemon juice, flour, and salt.

3. On a lightly floured counter, roll out 1 round of dough, lift it onto the rolling pin, and ease it into the pie pan. Trim the edges, folding under a hem of pastry all around. Pile the apples into the pastry, mounding them.

4. Roll out the other round of dough on a lightly floured counter. Cut 11 or 12 strips of dough. Lay 5 strips on the pie, setting the longest ones in the center, the shorter ones at the edges. Set the remaining strips on a diagonal to the first set. Trim the edges of the strips so they are even with the rim of the pastry. Crimp the edges or use a fork to press a pattern all around the rim. Brush the pastry all over with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

5. Set the pie on the baking sheet. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 50 minutes or until the juices are bubbling at the edges and the apples are tender when pierced with a skewer. (Total baking time is 65 minutes.) Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sheryl Julian. Adapted from “The Way We Cook”

2. Farmhouse apple cream pie

Makes one 9-inch open-faced pie

We were intrigued by this tart sent in by Melinda Kessler Spratlan of Amherst. “My mother, Nelle McFarland Kessler, was raised on a farm in east central Indiana,’’ she writes. “She and her mother, Bessie, often baked pies for the farm hands when they came in from the early morning chores. This is her recipe for apple pie. My mother always baked it for Thanksgiving dinner, and I have continued the tradition in my family.’’ We tried the pie with chunks, and then with thin slices arranged in concentric circles, and far preferred the homier, chunkier look.


1  9-inch unbaked pie shell, chilled  

3  or 4 large tart cooking apples (such as Cortland or Mutsu), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks 

3/4  cup sugar 

 Pinch of salt 

1/4 cup flour  

1  cup light cream 

1  teaspoon vanilla extract 

2  tablespoons butter 

 Ground cinnamon (for sprinkling) 

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.

2. Pile the apples into the pie shell.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, and flour. Add the cream and vanilla and mix until smooth. Pour the mixture over the apples. Dot the top with butter and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.


4. Bake the pie on the lowest rack of the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes or until the pie sets. Total baking time is 1 hour.

Adapted from Melinda Kessler Spratlan


3. Crustless cranberry pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

This popular crustless pie is essentially a cake-y batter poured over fresh cranberries in a pie pan, baked until the cranberries make a saucy bottom for the buttery top. Cambridge resident Sandra Shapiro clipped this many years ago from The New York Times and writes, “I bake this in an attractive earthenware pie plate.” Her recipe was called “Mrs. Arthur Morawski’s Cape Cod Cranberry Pie,” and the clip said it was baked by Hester Griffin for the West Dennis Library. Similar recipes have appeared in The Boston Globe’s Confidential Chat, in Laurie Colwin’s “More Home Cooking,” where it was called “Nantucket Cranberry Pie,” and in Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?,” in which she adds an apple to the berries.

Butter for the pan

2 cups fresh cranberries mixed with ½ cups sugar

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup walnuts, chopped


2 eggs

1 cup flour

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Crustless cranberry pie
Crustless cranberry pieKaroline Boehm Goodnick for the boston globe

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Butter the pan.

2. In a bowl, mix the cranberries and ½ cup sugar. Spread them in the pan. Sprinkle with walnuts.

3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, 1 cup sugar, flour, and butter. Pour the mixture over the cranberries and smooth the top. Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes or until it is set and golden.

Adapted from Sandra Shapiro

4. Pumpkin pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Laura Koller of Lincoln sent us her mother’s pumpkin pie recipe, which is the best one we’ve ever eaten. Her mother, Shirley, adds the yolks to the pumpkin base, then beats the egg whites separately to make a very fluffy filling. We used extra pie pastry to make little cutouts to set on the top of the baked pie.

1   can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree  

2  tablespoons molasses  

1/2 cup granulated sugar  

1  teaspoon ground ginger  

1  teaspoon ground cinnamon  

2  tablespoons butter, at room temperature  

2  eggs, separated  

1 1/4 cups milk, heated until scalding  

1/2  teaspoon salt  

1  9-inch unbaked pie shell  

1  cup heavy cream, beaten to soft peaks with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar (for serving) 

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees.

2. In large bowl, combine pumpkin, molasses, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and butter.

3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks. Stir them into pumpkin mixture, then stir in the hot milk.

4. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until very fluffy. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the pumpkin mixture. Pour the filling into pie shell.

5. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes. (Total baking time is 1 hour.)

6. Set the pie on a rack to cool completely. Serve with whipped cream. Adapted from Shirley Koller

Food Styling/Janine Sciarappa; Sheryl Julian/Globe Staff

5.. Pear frangipane tart

This tart looks like it was crafted in one of Paris’s top patisseries. Select pears that are firm but ripe; overripe fruit will fall apart during baking. Let the dough rest sufficiently while mixing the frangipane (an almond cream) and preparing the fruit. Line a French tart pan with the pastry and almond cream (store overnight in the refrigerator at this point, if you like), then arrange pears in a circle and bake the next day.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 1/2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. Have on hand a 9-inch tart pan with removable base.

2. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until soft and light. Add the yolk, and when the mixture is smooth, beat in the cream. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and salt. Mix until the dough forms large moist clumps (it should not form a ball). Turn them out onto a lightly floured counter. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in foil. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a 10-inch round. Lift the pastry onto the rolling pin and lay on the tart pan. Ease the dough into the pan, pressing it firmly into the edges. Roll the pin over the top to cut off excess dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.


4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup ground almonds

1 tablespoon flour

Pinch of salt

1. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until soft and light. Add the egg and mix well. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. Beat in the almonds, flour, and salt.


4 ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons apricot jam

1 teaspoon water

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the frangipane evenly in the pastry.

2. Arrange the pear slices overlapping, pointing the narrow ends toward the center and pressing the slices lightly into the frangipane.

3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating from front to back halfway through baking. The filling will be firm and golden; if the crust is browning too quickly during baking, cover the edges with foil.

4. Remove the tart from the oven, and place it on a wire rack.

5. In a small saucepan, combine apricot jam and water. Stir over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until the jam loosens. With a pastry brush, brush the top of the tart with the glaze.

6. Cool the tart completely. Set it on a bowl so the rim falls off. Cut into wedges.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe