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And for dessert: Nantucket Cranberry Pie

This recipe uses only one bowl and one pan, and it requires no rolling of dough

BELLOWS FALLS—We love our cranberries in New England. Their pop of tartness and vibrant red color move from sweet to savory with ease. What would the holiday table be without cranberry sauce or relish?

I’ve recipes for cranberry muffins and breads; vegetables roasted with cranberries; cranberries in sautés, in rice, and in meat dishes; cranberry parfaits and puddings; show-off tarts; cookies, crisps, cheesecakes, and other desserts; and any number of special beverages.

One traditional favorite is Nantucket Pie, or Nantucket Cranberry Pie — which, in keeping with other New England desserts, is really more of a cake, like Boston Cream Pie!

The ingredients are simple: a layer of cranberries and sugar, and a batter of flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and often almond extract. Sometimes it is made as an upside-down cake, but since I wanted to keep this simple, I just serve it up as a pie. It uses only one bowl and one pan, and it requires no rolling of dough.

The recipe from my mother-in-law used almond extract, but I prefer vanilla extract. I think the almond extract makes it taste too much like cherry pie.

I’ve also added a couple of touches of my own: the chopped-up crystalized ginger and the lemon zest.

I can’t help it — I just can’t leave good enough alone.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep-dish pie plate or round cake tin.


¶4 cups cranberries (1 bag)

Chop them in half, roughly, and place them into the buttered baking dish.

Heat a small skillet over medium high and add:

¶{1/2} cup walnuts or pecans

Toast until fragrant and just starting to brown — keep an eye on them. Remove them from the pan and add to the cranberries, along with:

¶{1/2} cup crystalized ginger, chopped

¶Zest of one lemon

¶{1/2} cup sugar

Mix these in the pan and set side.

In a mixing bowl, beat:

¶1{1/2} sticks butter, softened

¶1 cup sugar

Beat until soft and fluffy. Then, one at a time, add:

¶2 large eggs

Once well combined, gently mix in:

¶1 cup all-purpose flour

¶{1/2} tsp. salt

With your mixing spoon, add the batter in blobs on top of the fruit and gently spread it out. You might need to moisten your fingers! Sprinkle with some coarse sugar if you want a crunchy top.

Bake for 30 minutes, turn the cake around, and continue baking until it is brown and firm on top, about 15 minutes more.

Let cool, then serve as is or with some vanilla ice cream. It is, after all, a feast day!

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Originally published in The Commons issue #589 (Wednesday, November 25, 2020). This story appeared on page B3.

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