Amelia Freidline, Copy Editor With Thanksgiving behind us and December rushing madly toward Christmas and New Year, home bakers across the country are finding themselves knee-deep in butter and flour as they crank out the holiday goodies.
Or I am, at least, given the way I bake.
Though winter is still a couple of weeks away — and here at the Lenexa, Kan., offices of The Packer it feels more like early April than December — we are in the midst of one of the most wonderful times of the year: pie season.
After sampling a slew of pumpkin, pecan, apple and blueberry pies at Thanksgiving I found myself tasked with making a pie of my own for a fundraising contest. The recipe hunt was on.
I wanted to make something unique. There’s a reason for the phrase “American as apple pie” — everyone makes it, according to the 34,100,000 results I got for Google searching for apple pie recipes.
However, I also wanted to use fresh fruit and make my own filling. So I considered my options.
Peach or cherry? The domestic stone fruit seasons were long over.
Grape? We seldom get fresh concord grapes, which my recipe called for, here in Kansas.
Strawberry rhubarb? I didn’t have time to tackle rhubarb ribs.
Wondering if I should just go the easy route and make an apple pie after all, I poked around the refrigerator, hoping to find something inspiring (or at least something for lunch). There I saw two bottles of pomegranate juice left over from a batch of pomegranate red velvet cupcakes I’d made at a coworker’s request.
“Aha!” I thought. “I’ll use this juice in my pie!”
After all, pomegranate season was also in full swing and I could find the fresh arils the grocery store hadn’t carried when I made the cupcakes.
I decided to add fresh cranberries, another tart, red, seasonal fruit, to the equation. I always make the fresh cranberry sauce for our holiday dinners, so I figured some variation of that would work nicely as a pie filling.
I mentioned my bright idea to my mom, who is the acknowledged pie master in our family. She raised her eyebrows a bit at the sketchy details of how I planned to craft this concoction and said “Maybe you’d better find a recipe first.”
It seems most people who bake with pomegranates or cranberries add them to other fruits instead of making them the featured filling. I found dozens of recipes for apple-cranberry or cranberry-pear pie, and several more for cherry-, pear- or apple-pomegranate pie, but next to no recipes for either fruit used exclusively.