Birthday Pie

How a girl like me — a girl whose idea of the perfect food is a chocolate buttercream layered sponge cake, a girl whose childhood dinners were considered incomplete without a slice of fudge-frosted Entenman’s tacked on to the end of them, a girl who could eat this morning, noon, and night — ended up being the mother of a cake-hater like my 9-year-old? I’ll never know. What I do know is that on the big day, birthday pie works fine, too.

Cranberry-Apple Birthday Pie

2 9-inch frozen pie crusts, such as Pillsbury or Trader Joe’s (or if you have Martha Stewart’s pâte brisée in the freezer, lucky you!)
5 to 6 apples, peeled and sliced (about 5 cups)
1/4 cup fresh cranberries (or to taste)
1⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Juice from 1⁄2 lemon
6 to 8 dots of butter
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Lay the first piece of dough inside a pie dish. Toss the apples and cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Toss, then dump into prepared pie dish. Dot the fruit with butter, cover with second pie dough, using your fingers to seal it around the edges. Using a knife, cut a few ventilation slits in the top. Brush the crust with egg wash.

Bake for 40 minutes. If the crust is looking too brown before the fruit is bubbling out the side, cover with foil. Once the pie is cool, add candles. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Maybe it’s an October thing. My husband’s birthday is coming right up and he always wants apple pie. Because of the close proximity of the dates, we frequently celebrate on Halloween, so we have a long series of annual photos with the top crust “carved” like a Jack-O’Lantern. I’m totally with you on cake – I love it! I’m not so much into eating pie, but they are fun to make. Yours look just beautiful.


That pie looks amazing! It’s funny you should mention Martha Stewart’s pate brisee because I do have some in my freezer. Would you suggest pre-baking the bottom pie crust before adding the filling like I would for a pumpkin pie? Or just bake everything at the same time?


i’m not a huge pie fan (i’m a cake monster too) but your recipe looks too good and too easy to pass up at least an attempt. and you had me at ice cream.


Served pie from Briermere Farm Stand on Long Island’s North Fork at my wedding in lieu of cake. A big hit with our guests

The Lazy Fair

I find baking cakes too fussy, but I love pie! Especially with the store bought crusts. (Honestly, I use the Pillsbury and I can’t tell the difference.)


I would much rather a gooey chocolate cake than pie. But, oddly, my daughter (who just turned 18 last week) is also a big pie fan. So we had to pies on her birthday. I agree with Tara, maybe it is an October thing?

Melissa@Julia's Bookbag

My husband is very anti-cake as well! So we often have pie, brownies or cheesecake or carrot cake for his birthdays (apparently cheesecake and carrot cake don’t really fall into the ‘cake’ category for him…)


I’m a pie person, myself, and apparently spawned one as well. When my son turned nine, he asked for birthday pie–chocolate, though!

Splendid Spatula

I have a pie lover too, but it is because his favorite number is pi. Where we live, there is a pie shop that on Pi Day (March 14, 3/14, get it?), gives pie prizes for reciting digits of pi. Last year, my son recited 100 digits, and got a gift certificate for four pies – he’s in heaven.

Anyway, as for apple pie, try leaving out the crans, adding some ground cloves and a slug of bourbon to the apples. We got this from Ken Haedrich’s PIE book, and it is our delicious go-to now.

erinn johnson

I make Martha Stewart’s Mile High Apple pie for my sons birthday every year. I will have to show him this one, he loves apples and cranberries, he begs for dried cranberries in his lunchbox.

I am a cake disliker as well.


My son always wants pumpkin pie for his October birthday. In college, he used to tell his friends that his mom had never baked him a birthday cake. And only later tell them about the pie.


Beautiful pie! I may have to make this this weekend! I would love to win the Barilla pasta give-away! I think I would make one of our favorites: linguine with lightly fried zucchini, olive oil, garlic, basil and parmesean.


Would love to win the Barilla pasta too. We eat pasta at least once a week and we would celebrate with our favorite linguine with white clam sauce pasta !


We have lots of apples from a recent apple-picking outing, and this apple pie recipe sounds awesome! My pasta-loving kids have been counting down the days to World Pasta Day (they don’t need much of an excuse to celebrate!), and we would love to win the Barilla pasta giveaway. We plan on making spaghetti tacos tonight, which we copied from the iCarly show and are always a lot of fun. Thanks!!


I would sooooooo love to win the Alessi pasta pot and celebrate with Barilla lasagna noodles in my favorite lasagna & old school bolognese recipe from the WONDERFUL Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. OMG – it is such a great recipe and I always use Barilla no-cook noodles to make it. :)

Beth S

The Barilla pasta giveaway is great! My kids favorite meals all involve pasta. If I win, I’d make chicken and pasta in garlic sauce with some homemade bread to celebrate.


My kids have been asking for pasta all week and would celebrate with our favorite pasta from the Silver Palate.


I hope I win. We would celebrate with penne a la vodka – my daughters favorite food! But she calls it penne very vodka!


I love the look of these fancy pies. They would make a healthy dessert after a great Barilla spaghetti dinner!


A pasta giveaway?! I’ve been on a pasta casserole kick lately. My current fave has a pumpkin ricotta sauce!


For the winning pasta idea – I’m thinking it’s about time to break out the family pasta fagioli recipe. Still haven’t been able to make it like my sister in law, but a little barilla pasta might help do the trick! My kids can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We like pies in our house too. My husband is the master of apple pie and I love the fact that it is one less thing for me to have to do around the holidays!!


World Pasta Day is almost every day at our house. Tonight is Cincinnati Chili over Barilla Spaghetti noodles. Yum!!!


For the Barilla Contest–Our favorite pasta recipe is a yummy, fall vegetarian staple. Whole wheat linguine tossed with brown butter, swiss chard, tons of parmesan, and toasted pine nuts. A handful of fresh oregano if I’ve got it on hand rounds out the earthiness of the dish nicely.

Ioana Buibas

We totally stole your donut idea for our oldest’s birthday and it was a great hit! We had a friend who’s an engineer actually make a tower our of it. Meanwhile, re: pasta day: we love raviolis from Trader Joe’s, especially their spinach and ricotta and their lobster ravioli.


I’ll do almost any pasta and pasta sauce, but my 5 year old is decidedly sauce-averse. Butter (dairy free, please) only, maybe a pinch of sea salt. Which means more sauce for me! I make pasta at least once a week because it is so easily flexible – sauce, butter, cheese – and leftovers!


We celebrate pasta day with combining any pasta with homemade pesto made with lots of fresh basil from our garden.


For the pasta contest – we would celebrate with spaghetti and meatballs…well, the parents would eat spaghetti , meatballs and sauce combined and the 3 year old would have plain pasta, meatballs on the side with sauce for dipping.


That’s awesome! I love cake, but I still get a pie on my birthday- chocolate satin or chocolate cream though. Also, we would celebrate pasta day with your pasta with caramelized onions! We love that one!


Happy Pasta Day! My choice = Pork ragu but my kids would prefer Clams Anne – a simple garlic clam sauce on any pasta


Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! My kids love themselves spaghetti sand meatballs, they’d yet very night if they could!
Ps. I love your ice cream birthday cake!


Would love to win the Barilla pasta pot to make our family favorite, Penne ala Vodka (America’s Test Kitchen recipe). It is a winner!


I’m throwing something together tonight: barilla penne toped with shrimp, sautéed peppers and onions, Latin spices and avocado.


What a gorgeous pie!

Just received the newsletter and I would love to be entered in the Barilla giveaway :-) our family’s favorite food is pasta so within that category I would say our favorite is penne vodka. Thanks again!


Shouldn’t pasta be celebrated every day?! I’d celebrate with a lovely lemony garlicky shrimp and rotini pasta dish. An easy quick meal.


Barilla! I would celebrate by making Marcella Hazan simple tomato sauce (tomatoes, butter, onions) and a huge pot of freshly made (by someone else) linguine. I’m hungry already.


Put me in the group with your daughter. Go Pie!!
We had apple pie at our wedding because I don’t care for cake.


Would love the Barilla give away! If my husband chooses we’d celebrate with spaghetti and turkey meatballs, our daughter : any form of Mac &cheese, and if its up to me: spaghetti carbonara !

Sherry B

We celebrate pasta embarrassingly often in my home, only because my 3-year-old daughter refuses to eat almost anything except macaroni and cheese. We were living in Norway and “the blue box” of mac and cheese could only be procured in rare delicatessens with insane markups, like they were truffles or something. I know, it’s crazy.

Only because it was something very American did I give it to her, and she’s eaten maybe 4 boxes in her entire lifetime, yet she was totally hooked! I saw the dangerous road we were headed down, so I decided then and there that mac and cheese would only be made from scratch in our home, which, in truth, is just as easy as the boxed electric yellow stuff.

After you portion out the kid’s bowl, toss in some sauteed spinach, diced ham, chopped sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, or other leftover meats and/or veg for the adults’ bowls, and you’re *really* cooking.

We will happily consume mac and cheese to celebrate pasta day today. And any day, really.


Love the cookbook and I do not buy many cookbooks. With all the recipes I can find online, why? But yours is worth it and many of my friends agree. I have made the Chicken Soup With Orzo every single week for the last month. My daughters are 7 & 8 (16 months apart; I feel your pain, especially the posts about children who awake at 5:30 am). They slurp it up every time and proclaim I am the best mom in the world. They shun the orzo but that’s ok. I love giving them something so wholesome and healthy, and it is such an easy recipe. Thank you for adding a great weekly staple to our dinners. Keep up the great work. Fondly, a stay-at-home mom in Des Moines, IA.


We like our pasta with little more than some parmesan, butter and basil. I have to pick the green flecks off the kids version and then I add some cherry tomatoes to my version. We are all happy.

erinn johnson

The perfect pasta in our house is when I make a winter sunday sauce. I cook a red sauce with italian sausage and meatballs all day long on sunday. it makes the house smell amazing and produces a huge pot of a beautiful dark red sauce that I use to cook with all week long. We have pasta with red sauce and meatballs and sausage on Sunday night, then I might make pizzas one might and a lasagna another night that week. If there is any sauce left I freeze some and use it as a fast pasta dinner night.

Carrie K

yummm…pie!!! :)

the pasta pack and pot look awesome! i would celebrate with Marcella Hazan’s famous simple tomato sauce…i really could eat it everyday :)


Oh Nancy – Briermere pies are the best! I have recently been contemplating driving out there (from our new location in NJ! with my newborn baby!) just to get one of their pies…


I put the above comment in the wrong place, and for some reason my name is linked to a weird Bible website on it. Would you mind deleting it? Thanks.