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Ugly Christmas Sweater Pie
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Recipe courtesy of Helen Nugent

Ugly Christmas Sweater Pie

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 6 hr 30 min (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 2 hr
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
With this clever technique, you can "knit" pie dough into a decked-out sweater to jazz up a cranberry-apple slab pie for the holidays.


Pie Dough (you need 2 batches):


Special equipment:
10-by-15-by-1-inch pan; a ruler; 4-inch round cutter; 2-inch round cutter; assorted 1-inch or 2-inch holiday cookie cutters; a small craft paintbrush
  1. Combine the apples, cranberries, brown sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and cinnamon in a large bowl and gently toss together until combined. Set aside.
  2. Line a large work surface with parchment paper and lightly flour the paper. Roll out one batch of Pie Dough to a 14-by-19-inch rectangle. Gently roll the dough up around your rolling pin and transfer it to a 10-by-15-by-1-inch baking pan. Unroll the pastry over the pan. Alternatively, fold the pastry in half, and then again into quarters (moving quickly), transfer to the pan and then unfold. Gently fit the pastry into the pan and up the sides. Don't worry if the pastry rips or tears. You can simply patch it back together with your fingers as it will not be seen in the final product. Tuck the edges under the side of the pan and trim. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator while you create your knit pastry columns.
  3. For the purl stitches: You can knit your pie in a fine or chunky knit pattern, depending on the length and thickness of the dough stitches. The pie in this recipe was created using stitches that were about 4 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Whatever size and thickness you choose, take a few minutes to practice a few and see what style you like best.
  4. Remove the second batch of Pie Dough from the fridge. Pull off a 1- to 2-inch round piece and roll it to the desired length and thickness. Form it into a horseshoe shape (an upside-down u-shape). Roll another piece of dough the same size. Lay it across the bottom of the horseshoe, leaving about 1/4 inch of the horseshoe ends visible. Tuck the two ends of the horseshoe up and over the straight piece, keeping the ends turned in slightly. Curve the straight piece downward into a horseshoe. Continue to build your column of purl stitches until you have a 10-inch long column that will fit across your pie.
  5. Measure the width of your column and then create enough purl stitch columns to cover the pie. Once you have assembled all your purl stitch columns, place them in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  6. For the decorations: Roll out your remaining dough into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle.
  7. To create the front panel: Use a ruler and sharp knife to cut a 12-by-1-inch long strip of dough. Press the tines of a fork gently into the dough, moving down the length of the panel to create a ribbed effect. Set aside.
  8. To create the front collar: Use a 4-inch round cutter to create a circle from a piece of dough. Position a 2-inch round cutter approximately 1 inch inside the outer circle and press down to create a donut shape. Cut the donut shape in half to create a u-shaped band. The remaining half can be added back to your batch to make other decorations. Press the tines of a fork gently into the dough, moving around the edge of the collar to create a ribbed effect.
  9. To create the sweater decorations: Use 1- and 2-inch cookie cutters with a holiday theme to create a variety of holiday shapes.
  10. To color the dough, use either gel or liquid food coloring mixed with a small amount of water. Apply with a small paint brush (available in craft stores).
  11. To add sparkle to your pie, after painting, and while your dough is still slightly damp, sprinkle with colored sanding sugar.
  12. To make a candy cane, roll out two pieces of dough to approximately 6 inches in length and 1/2 inch in diameter. Paint one roll in red food coloring and sprinkle with red sanding sugar. Paint the other roll with a bit of water and sprinkle with white sanding sugar. Twist the two pieces of dough together gently and curve at the top.
  13. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  14. To assemble: Remove the pie shell from the fridge. Transfer the apple mixture to the pan and evenly distribute so you have a flat surface. Remove your purl stitch columns from the fridge and assemble across the top of your pie. Add your decorations on top of the pie.
  15. Bake for 12 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until the pie is golden and the filling bubbles thickly through the knit pattern, another 60 to 70 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Pie Dough (you need 2 batches):

  1. For the dough: Pulse the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade until combined, 2 to 3 times. Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour mixture. Pulse 4 to 5 times until the mixture resembles small pebbles with a few larger pieces.
  2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over top. Pulse until the mixture starts to clump and come together, 6 to 8 times. If the mixture does not clump, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing 1 to 2 times between additions.
  3. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cup your hands around the dough to bring it together in a ball. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Cook’s Note

This recipe requires a double batch of pie dough. If you have a large food processor, you can double the supplied recipe. Otherwise, it is best to make two separate batches.