This fruit pie is made with apples and cranberries for a slightly sweet and sour dessert. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

The apples are keeping well in the cellar, and there were some sound cranberries waiting in the fridge for their chance to shine.

This year was the first of a decent harvest of apples off a Black Oxford tree I’ve raised up from its youth. A dark purple-skinned heirloom, these keepers last until late winter, early spring and get better tasting as they go along. Early on in his apple career, Maine’s own John Bunker propagated Black Oxfords from a few old trees he found. Thousands now grow descended from those early trees and we can now acquire them from Fedco in Waterville. (Visit the Fedco website to see the array of trees, seeds and supplies of this Maine company.) I determined I’d honor my tree by making pie using only its fruit.

The crumble topping takes the place of a pastry lid and contributes to overall sweetness to off-set the cranberries’ sourness. If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to add more brown sugar to the filling, up to three-quarters of a cup.

I halved a favorite crumb recipe that adorns all the fruit crisps I make starting with rhubarb in spring to blueberry in mid-summer and then to apple in autumn. It made just enough to cover the filling. This one has rolled oats in it; you might have an all flour-sugar-butter crumb topping that you prefer. Or you might rather top it with a pastry crust.

I saw one recipe on the internet that called for using half fresh cranberries and half dried ones. If you lack fresh cranberries, dried would be a worthy substitute; add a splash of hot water to the berries before you put them in the pie and the water will plump them slightly.

Apple Cranberry Crumb Pie

Pastry sufficient to line a 9-inch pan.


4 cups peeled, sliced apples, about 2 lb

2 cups cranberries, about 8 oz

½ cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Crumb Topping

½ cup flour

½ cup rolled oats

⅓ cup brown sugar

¼ cup, or half a stick, butter, melted

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry and crimp the edges.

Toss together all the filling ingredients — apples, cranberries, sugar, flour and spices — and put them in the pie shell.

Put the flour, oats and brown sugar into a separate bowl and mix together. Add the melted butter and stir to blend.

Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the filling, spreading to cover evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the oven to 375 degrees and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes until the pastry and crumb topping are golden and you can see bubbling around the edges.

Cool and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...