Photograph by Jared Sych

Taking place the weekend after Canadian Thanksgiving, the Bala Cranberry Festival was established in 1984 by volunteers who wanted to extend the area’s tourist season. It’s a natural fit for the town, which is close to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh. The Johnston family has been growing cranberries since 1950, and this pie, adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Five Seasons Cranberry Book, is the family’s go-to dessert.

Recipe: Almond Crunch Pie With Muskoka Cranberries

Serves 8


  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pastry for a single crust pie
  • 1, 8 oz pkg cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • A pinch of salt

Crumble Topping

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds


1. In a large saucepan, bring the cranberries, sugar and one cup of water to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the berries burst and the sauce thickens. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it cools.

2. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line a pie plate with the pastry, crimping the edges. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with 1/2 cup of the cranberry sauce; spread over the bottom of the pastry shell. Combine the rest of the sauce with the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Carefully spread it over the cheese layer. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and almonds for the topping. Blend until it is well-combined and crumbly.

3. Sprinkle the crumble over the pie and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the middle of the pie is set—the whole thing should jiggle slightly. You can serve the pie while it is still warm, or refrigerate it and serve chilled.


  • Fresh cranberries are incredibly dense—once they are frozen and then thawed, they break down significantly, making them more malleable.
  • In a hurry? To streamline this pie recipe, start with three cups of canned whole-berry cranberry sauce instead of the fresh or frozen varieties.
[This story appears in the October 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]