The first time I heard of Nantucket Cranberry Pie, I was on the hut for recipes that used a lot of cranberries, but were a little bit different than what I usually made. The pie is actually a cake – though it could be considered to be a crustless pie – that is loaded with fresh cranberries and baked in a pie plate. I’ve seen a number of different variations, but all of them are easy to make and very delicious. In fact, this just might be one of the easiest desserts you can make with fresh cranberries.
To put my own twist on this favorite, I baked up a Nantucket Cranberry Orange Pie. It not only contains plenty of cranberries, but it is studded with buttery walnuts and has a touch of orange zest in the batter for a bright citrus flavor. Cranberry and orange is a classic combination that I use a lot during the holidays. The pie is put together in two parts: a filling and a topping. The filling is nothing more than cranberries, sugar and chopped walnuts (you can also use pecans, if you prefer) and it is layered into a pie plate just as the filling for a fruit cobbler might be.
The topping is a cake-like batter that is made with sugar, flour, eggs and butter – along with orange zest and vanilla extract, for extra flavor. The cake doesn’t include any leavening agents, but bakes into a tender topping with a pound cake-like texture that almost melts in your mouth. It is buttery and sweet enough to contrast well with the sweet-tart cranberries beneath it. Speaking of the cranberries, they tend to migrate up into the cake, as the batter sinks into the gaps between the berries while the dessert bakes.
The pie is easy to slice and serve once it has been cooled to room temperature, but it can be served while it is still warm from the oven if you don’t mind less-than-perfect slices. The warm dessert is almost like a fruit cobbler, albeit one with a very cakey topping. In both cases, it is excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream.
Nantucket Cranberry Orange Pie
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.
Place cranberries in the bottom of the pie plate. Top with 1/2 cup sugar and toasted walnuts.
Place remaining 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl. Add in flour and salt, then whisk to combine. Whisk in eggs, butter, orange zest and vanilla extract until batter is smooth. Pour on top of cranberry mixture.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top of the pie is golden and the cranberries are bubbling. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature.