We were in a taxi, on our way to see the open studios at the Gowanus canal last Sunday. The temperature had suddenly plunged, barely making it to the mid 50s. As the car zoomed along the elevated section of the BQE, I caught a glimpse of the tops of trees (ash trees?) swaying in the wind. Their leaves had already turned canary yellow and they seemed impossibly bright, against the brownstones and dark asphalt in the background. And I thought It’s ok. Fall is here and I’m ok with that.
When I was little (kindergarten? first grade?), I remember teachers having us color pre-drawn and mimeographed sheets with things that represented each season. The summer had the sun and stalks of wheat. The spring had flowers and swallows: we glued cotton balls to their bellies and filled the rest of their bodies with black crayons. The winter had snowmen and Christmas trees. But fall? I don’t remember what represented fall. Maybe yellow leaves, though it’s unlikely. There were few trees that turned colors the way they do in the Northeast U.S. It wasn’t cranberries or pecan pie or Thanksgiving turkey. I didn’t know about these things until I came to the U.S. later as an adult. It was probably rain. Grey clouds and children holding umbrellas, which we colored with as many colors as we could get our hands on.
This recipe is pure fall. Cranberries and pecans are cooked together with a decent amount of sugar, turning sweet and tangy and crisp, underneath a topping that is rich but not overly so. The original recipe called for three quarters of a packet of butter. I replaced two thirds of that with refined coconut oil (the kind that has no coconut taste) and the result was perfect. It’s still not quite health food, but it’s a great way to ease into the season.
Nantucket Cranberry Pie – Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup refined coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10″ pie plate or 9″ square cake pan. Melt 1 tablespoon butter, and drizzle it into the bottom of the pan. Spread the chopped cranberries and nuts in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the 1/2 cup sugar.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, melted coconut oil and butter, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and almond extract. Spread the batter over the cranberries and nuts in the pan, using a spatula to cover everything. Evenly sprinkle turbinado sugar over the batter.
Bake the pie for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool on wire rack. Serve warm, or at room temperature.