Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie: A Holiday Dessert

Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie

Throw another log on the fire and grab yourself a slice of pie. ‘Tis the season to satisfy your sweet tooth. From sugar plums to figgy pudding, Christmastime is a dessert-filled winter wonderland. This Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie is something I think you’ll enjoy sinking your teeth into.

When it comes to Christmas desserts I like them to be fairly traditional. From the fanciful bûche de noël, to gingerbread cookies or spicy plum pudding I like desserts that seem to be reserved for this special time of year and this special time of year only. In fact this Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie is so evocative of the season that I put the word Christmas in the title. Which pretty much guarantees that I won’t be making this pie until “the weather outside is frightful.”

Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but the aromas of sugar and spice baking in the oven bring out the holiday spirit in me. This pie of sweet pears and tart cranberries, is made aromatic with cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice. If the smell of this pie baking in the oven doesn’t inspire you “to deck the halls” then “you’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.”

Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie

There are many things to love about this holiday pie. It bakes a good long time so as I said the house fills up with a seasonal scent. The long cooking time also allows the brown sugar sweetened pears and cranberries to create a juicy crimson filling that gently bubbles while baking. As I’ve chosen the rather cute (too cute??) topping of pastry cut outs in the form of snowflakes you’ll have to be careful about this Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie bubbling over. So give yourself plenty of pastry and build nice tall lip (read dam) on this pie. GREG

Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice PiePear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie

Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 10–12Published
Pear and Cranberry Christmas Spice Pie


  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour scooped & leveled (390 grams, plus more for rolling)
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 9 ounce very cold high-fat, European-style unsalted butter, cut into ½‑inch dice
  • 2 ice cubes
  • ⅓ cup very cold water (or as needed)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 5 ripe pears (cored, peeled, and cut into 1‑inch chunks)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with a teaspoon water (as egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoon turbinado sugar


In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment pulse flour and 1 teaspoon salt 5 or 6 times until well combined. Add butter, and continue pulsing 10 or 12 more times until the mixture is crumbly and coarse, with various-sized but obvious chunks of butter scattered throughout.

Place two ice cubes, broken up if necessary into the feed tube of the food processor. With machine running, pour up to ⅓ cup cold water through the ice filled feed tube a tablespoon at a time until dough just comes together and begins to pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl in jagged clumps. Don’t let the machine run too long and don’t worry if you don’t use all the water. Overworked dough and/or too much water are the main culprits in pastry that is tough or dense. However, in warm weather or dry climates you may need up to an additional 2 tablespoons more cold water. 

Divide dough in half, shape into 2 discs, one about 6‑inches in diameter and 3/4‑inch thick, the other about 4‑inches in diameter and 3/4‑inch thick. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate least 1 hour (or up to 2 days), or freeze up to 1 month. 

Place oven rack in center position. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Place the dried cranberries into a small heatproof bowl, pour hot water over the berries; set aside at least 20 minutes to plump.

Use a lightly floured surface and a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the larger disc of chilled dough to about a 13-inch round, a generous 1/8‑inch thick. Carefully fold dough in half, and slide it onto rolling pin. Transfer to a 9‑inch deep dish, or a 10-inch standard pie pan. Unfold the dough, easing it gently into pan; do not stretch dough. Fold excess dough back forming a raised lip, crimp the edge decoratively as you like. Place the pan into the refrigerator to chill at least 10 minutes.

Roll the second disc of dough out into as large a 1/8‑inch thick round as possible. Use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut out as many shapes as possible. Re-roll the scraps if you like to get a few more. Place the cutouts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the sheet in the refrigerator to chill at least 10 minutes.

Toss together pears, fresh cranberries, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, orange zest, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Drain the dried cranberries well, then stir them into the bowl too.

Remove the lined pie pan and the pastry cutouts from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the nuts evenly across the bottom of the lined pie pan. Scrape the pear and cranberry mixture, including any accumulated liquid, into the lined pie pan. Spread the mixture evenly, compacting it slightly with the back of a spoon to assure a well packed pie. Place the pastry cutouts decoratively on top of the pie, using the egg wash as glue. Then brush all the exposed pastry with the remaining egg wash. Sprinkle the top of pie with turbinado sugar.

Place the pie on a rimmed parchment lined baking sheet and place it into the heated oven. Bake 90 to 100 minutes, or until the pie is well browned and bubbling aggressively.

Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 90 minutes before slicing.