So, what’s a girl to do with a tiny tree speckled with neon red sour cherries? Why, make a pie, of course! The tree is so wee that it only yields enough fruit for one little pie, so I knew I had to make it the best pie ever. Fortunately, I had a very enthusiastic cherry pitter in my son. Unfortunately, my husband decided to sing the one line he know’s of Warrant’s smash hit, “She’s My Cherry Pie”, the ENTIRE time the pie was being prepped, baked, cooled and eaten. Now, I know this pie was a success because my husband ate not one, but TWO slices of the pie. After the Peach Pie Pecadillo, this was a pleasant surprise.
Lattice-Top Pie Dough
3 cups (15 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
7 Tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
10 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8-10 Tablespoons ice water
1. Blend the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add in the shortening and pulse until it has the texture of coarse sand (about 10 seconds). Space the butter pieces evenly on top of the mixture; pulse until the texture is that of coarse crumbs, with the butter bits no larger than pea size (about 10 1-second pulses). Transfer mixture to a medium size bowl.
2. Sprinkle 8 Tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Use a rubber spatula in a folding motion to combine. Press firmly down of the dough with the spatula until it sticks together, use the remaining 2 Tablespoons of ice water if needed. Divide the dough into two balls (16 oz and 14 oz) and flatten into discs (5 inches and 4 inches). Wrap separately in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling out.
Lattice-Top Sour Cherry Pie
1 recipe Lattice-Top Pie Dough
Flour for dusting the work surface
1/4 cup (1 oz) cornstarch
1 cup sugar (plus 1 Tablespoon for the top crust)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
drop of pure almond extract (or teaspoon of almond liqueur )
sour cherries (one tree full or about 6 cups, pitted)
1. Remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit until malleable. Roll the larger disc to a 15 inch by 11 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick, between two sheets of parchment paper then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet (you can reuse one of the parchment sheets to roll the bottom crust). Trim the long sides of the rectangle and then cut lengthwise into 8 strips (15 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide). Place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm (about 30 minutes).
2. Roll out the smaller piece of dough to a 12 inch circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate. Leave the dough that overhangs the lip of the pie plate and place in the freezer until firm (about 15 minutes).
3. Mix the cornstarch, sugar (adjust to taste), cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Toss with the cherries and almond extract (or almond liqueur).
4. Take the dough strips out of the freezer, if they are too stiff to be flexible, let them warm up just a bit. Weave the strips into a lattice top (Smitten Kitchen has a great MacPaint How To). Put back into the freezer until firm again (about 15 minutes)
5. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and place a baking sheet on it (to catch any excess juices) and preheat to 500.
6. Take the dough covered pie plate from the freezer and fill with the cherry mixture. Remove the lattice top from the freezer and place on top of the filled pie crust. Trim the lattice scraps and fold the overhanging dough into a crimped pattern. Lightly brush the lattice with 1 Tablespoon water and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar.
7. Turn the oven down to 425 and place the pie on the baking sheet. Bake until the crust begins to brown (25 to 30 minutes). Rotate the pie and turn the oven to 375; continue baking until the crust is a deep golden brown and the cherry juices are bubbling up (25 to 30 minutes longer).
8. Cool the pie on a wire rack for a minimum of 2 hours before serving. Cut at least two slices before you try to remove one.
I *heart* pie. The phrase, “It’s high-time for pie!”, runs through my head with awkward regularity. I’m not sure where it comes from, I only know it means I should be looking for something with crust and a fruity filling. This is not to say that all pie is created equal. They need to be in season, no pumpkin at a summer picnic or cherry by the winter fireside, and the filling shouldn’t be too saucy (unlike me) or too dry (like my wit). While the filling is important, what makes a pie a *PIE* is the crust.
I will now share something with you, I fear the crust. Not on the plate, but in my hands. It strikes fear in my heart. Duh-Duh-DUH. I decided to face my fear, with the support of my Junior Chef and an excess of ripe peaches. Armed with my scale and copy of Michael Ruhlman‘s book Ratio. I tried to remember everything I’d read about pie crust method from Jeffrey Steingarten‘s The Man Who Ate Everything. For the filling, I referenced Baking Illustrated. I decided to forgo the poaching and skinning of the peaches (reeks of effort, I did take the time to remove the pits) and I didn’t have the recommended potato starch or tapioca starch, so I used corn starch, but cut down the amount to keep the pasty taste at bay.
So, my first peach pie AND my first lattice top crust! When the pie finally cooled, I dished up some slices and served it to Chef. He took one bite, said I’d done a great job, then informed me that he doesn’t like peach pie. Well, I guess after 13 years together we still have a lot to learn about each other. Fortunately, Young Fresh Chef was a fan of the pie and it only took a couple of days to finish it off. I think he especially liked taking it to school in his lunch!