Boiled Cider Pie – a New England Classic to Bring Back This Thanksgiving
I realize that the day before Thanksgiving is a brazen time to post a cake recipe, but really, what other cake? Plus, it’s really something special – and I bet you already have the ingredients on hand.
Last Thanksgiving I baked three nine-inch cakes for two, and on Black Friday I had to call for reinforcements. As they approached the table, my friends looked suspiciously at the strange beige pie next to the pecan. I explained that it was a boiled cider pie, “a New England favorite.” Amazingly, it didn’t help at all, but I promised that if they tried a bite, they would love it. It turns out I was right; boiled cider pie disappeared first, long before cranberry streusel and even pecans.
If you’ve never eaten a cider pie before, this is a quiche tart flavored with apple cider brewed into a thick sweet and sour syrup. Traditional recipes are super sweet and double crusts, but my recipes produce a balanced, surprisingly light, single crust pie. Grated apples and a generous dose of lemon lend the desired astringency and prevent the filling from tipping over into the toothache area. It’s the perfect foil for the common pie suspects – sweet potatoes, pecans, apples – and contrasts nicely with the heavy richness of a Thanksgiving dinner. Best of all, boiled cider is the coldest quiche; It is not necessary to blindly bake the crust, and the custard is collected in one bowl in 5 minutes.
Boiled Cider Pie ( Adapted from the James Beard Foundation )
Note: This recipe is for a nine inch pie. To make the cute little six-inch pie you see above, I split the custard ingredients in half (because ” Thanksgiving” ) and baked for 35-40 minutes. If you are making a small pie, do not skip the blind baking step .
- 4 cups fresh or sparkling apple cider
- Tart pie with one crust (or defrosted, pre-cooked pie crust)
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted), ghee
- The juice of half a lemon (about 3 tbsp. L.)
- 2 tart apples (Granny Smith or equivalent), peeled, cored and coarsely grated
- A pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Transfer the cider to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until syrupy for at least an hour; you should have about one cup. Let cool. (If necessary, this can be done a day in advance.)
- Roll out a pie crust and place it on a nine-inch pie plate; trim the ledge to one inch, bend and squeeze. If baking blindly, prick with a fork.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and place the wire rack on the bottom third. Transfer the pie crust to the freezer to cool while the oven heats up for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the filling: Beat eggs thoroughly in a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup boiled cider, 2 tablespoons sugar, ghee, and lemon juice; add apples. Try and add more seasonings if necessary – salt, sugar, lemon juice. Set aside.
- (Optional) If the crust is blind-baked, line the parchment and dried beans or pie weights and transfer to a hot oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove weight and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until browned. Let the custard cool for 30 minutes or until warm to the touch before adding the custard.
- Pour the custard into the crust, sprinkle with nutmeg and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and bake for 45-50 minutes until set. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and leave the cake for another 45-1 hour. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely; refrigerate overnight if you have time. Serve cold or at room temperature.
If you can carve out a spot in your lineup this year, I really hope you try the boiled cider pie. It’s simple, tasty, and quirky enough to impress; chances are that you won’t be able to show your face in future Thanksgiving without it.