Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
One of the quiet wonders of the Bakehouse
If you’re a long time Zingerman’s regular, you likely know the items that have gained us fame over the last quarter century of baking. Sour cream coffee cakes, Jewish rye bread, Pecan Raisin, Magic Brownies, pecan pie . . . Then there are the amazing new additions—breads and pastries made with flour that’s freshly milled on site like Country Miche and True North. Add in those incredible Hungarian specialties like Rigó Jancsi and Dobos Torte and the longtime traditional Jewish items like hamantaschen and macaroons. It’s quite a dream team. And yet, there is a whole series of great items that seem to only rarely get attention that are exceptionally delicious. This Cranberry Walnut pie is one of them. While I like all the pies the Bakehouse makes (pecan, apple, pumpkin, chocolate chess, key lime, rhubarb, and jumble berry), this is one of my favorites. I guess I’m not alone. Good Housekeeping Magazine once called it one of the “top mail order pies in the country.”
As you’d guess from the name, the pie is loaded up with cranberries and walnuts. The colors alone are awesome—autumnal and amazing reds, yellows, and browns. I think what puts it over the top is the old-style Muscovado brown sugar that we get from Mauritius. Its flavor is just so much better than the commercial brown sugar everyone else uses. Most commercial brown sugar has actually been refined all the way down to white, taking out all its natural molasses, and then a bit of molasses is added back to give it color. Flavor wise, commercial brown sugar really isn’t all that much different than white. You really can taste the difference. It’s very flavorful and far less sweet. Which is, I’ll say, part of what I love about this pie. The walnuts and cranberries are the stars of the show—the sugar is really more like a background singer. The all-butter crust helps hold it all together.
You can of course serve the Cranberry Walnut pie with whipped cream or a side of the Creamery’s vanilla gelato. It works well in the old Vermont tradition—with a slice of sharp cheddar laid across the top (at room temperature, not melted!). And, also in the Vermont tradition, a slice of the Cranberry Walnut pie is wonderful for breakfast. I will guarantee that your day will get going with just a bit more of a smile if you start it with a slice of this stuff.