Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Cherry Pie

Crust courtesy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours. Cherry Pie filling courtesy of Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes.

I'm not going to lie. Pies are a pain in the tush to make. They aren't easy to be spontaneous with like brownies or cookies. They require ingredients that don't just happen to be sitting in your pantry. And cutting up fruit? What do you mean I can't just throw the fruit in the Cuisinart to chop it up?

But correctly made homemade pies are magical. They make you never want to eat a store bought pie again. And if you make them over the course of two days, they are less of a pain to make.

Which brings us to the Father's Day Cherry Pie. My husband keeps asking for Baked Alaska, but I keep making Cherry Pie instead. I have no idea how the hell to make Baked Alaska and I'm not sure I have ever really seen one. But Cherry Pie for Father's Day? No complaints. From anyone.

The key is making the crust the day before in the Cuisinart. Wrap it, pop it in the fridge and wait until the day of pie baking to roll it out (I like to do it between sheets of wax much less that sounds wrong.) And then the only lousy part of pie making, and especially Cherry Pie making...preparing the fruit. There is no way to get around pitting the cherries. Get yourself a good pitter, plug in your ipod to some high beat music (or a nice NPR podcast, if that is more your style) and set to work. It is absolutely worth it.

For a 9 inch Double Crust

3 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
2 ½ sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tbsp size pieces
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
About ½ cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing- what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tbsps of the water- add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface.

Divide the dough in half. Gather each half into a ball, flatten each ball into a disk and wrap each half in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling (if your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge).

To Roll Out the Dough: Have a buttered 9 inch pie plate at hand.

You can roll the dough out onto a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. If you’re working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to life the paper, plastic, or cover frequently so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases.

If you’ve got time, slide the rolled out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest and firm up.

Getting Ready: Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate (I use a Pyrex pie plate). If you want to use a standard 9-inch pie plate, just reduce the amount of filling by about one quarter.

Working on a well-floured surface (or between wax paper or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Fit the dough into the buttered pie plate and trim the edges to a 1/2-inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick circle and slip it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Cover both the circle and the crust in the pie plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, while you preheat the oven and prepare the filling. (If it's more convenient, the crust can be well covered and kept refrigerated overnight.)

Cherry Pie Filling

6 cups pitted bing cherries
3/4 c sugar
3-4 Tbsp tapioca (available in the baking section of the market)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp brandy
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or dry bread crumbs)

For the Glaze (optional)
Milk or heavy cream
Decorating (coarse) or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put everything except the graham cracker crumbs in a big bowl and toss, toss, toss. Roll out the bottom dough as directed above and sprinkle with the crumbs. Dump the filling in (you can sprinkle a couple of pats of butter on top if you want, but it doesn't really need it.) Cover with the second rolled out dough disk and crimp the edges together so delicious pie filling doesn't escape. Cut 4 slices in the top to allow steam to escape. If you want, you can brush the pie with milk or cream and then sprinkle with sugar, but I didn't bother.

Bake 20-25 minutes with a baking sheet on the rack below the pie to catch the inevitable overspilling filling. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and keep on baking until crust is golden-ish, another 30-40 minutes. Cool to room temperature before eating to allow filling to thicken properly.

And because you read through this whole recipe, I will also share with you Dorie's Apple Pie filling recipe. It is darn good...a Thanksgiving tradition.

Special Secret Bonus Apple Pie Filling (from Dorie Greenspan)

4 pounds (about 6 very large) apples
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or dry bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Same thing as above...mush together, except for the crumbs which will line the first crust before you dump the whole thing in. The cooking temperatures are different. Oven should preheat at 425 degrees, pie should bake for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 375 degrees for another 50-60 minutes.