Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pie Spectacular #1 - Allison's Sweet Cherry Pie

When it came to the first piesignment for our Summer Pie Spectacular, I didn't think too far out of the box. This is just a traditional lattice-topped, slice of Americana kind of pie. It's the kind of pie that makes me think of Fourth of July BBQ's, state fair baking competitions, and pie-eating contests. To me, cherry pie has such a retro feel to it that it takes me back in time. Back to those days that people like to refer to as "simpler." It makes me think of a pie being cooled on a windowsill (if that sort of thing actually occurs), the scent enticing those who walk by to try and steal a piece. Which is exactly what I attempted to do before realizing my windowsills were not made to accommodate pies, and that I live out in the boonies so if there was somebody happening to be walking by I would be more freaked out than charmed.
I may not have been able to make my homespun vision a reality, but I was able conjure up some of those images while making and enjoying this good old fashioned pie. The pie itself isn't completely traditional though. I did jazz up the filling a bit with some Cointreau and almond extract. I love the combination of almond and cherries, and the citrus kick from the liqueur was the perfect counterbalance. I would love to make a cherry pie with fresh sour cherries which are traditionally used in cherry pie, but unfortunately we just don't see those around these parts. So I went with the sweet cherry varieties that are available instead. I used half Bing and half Rainier which are both very sweet and very delicious in their own different ways.
I'll admit that I had never tried Rainier cherries before last week. I kept passing them over at the farmer's market; maybe it was something about their yellowish hue that didn't appeal to me? I don't know what it was, but I had gone my entire life without consuming one. But when I set out to make pie for this assignment I knew that I couldn't possibly make a sweet cherry pie without trying all the different varieties. Once I popped one in my mouth however, it was love at first taste. These yellow beauties were even sweeter than the Bing cherries that they would be sharing a pie with. I'm just bummed I have been missing out on them this whole time!
For the crust, I tested out the recipe I used for these hand pies again, and was again pleased with the results. The crust was light and flaky, and had that delicious flavor that comes from using an all-butter recipe. It was still a little bit more difficult to roll out then the recipe I use that includes a small amount of shortening. But luckily pie crust is forgiving, and tears are easily patched without any hassle. Part of the appeal for me of pies is how charming they look, even if they're not perfect. Lattice tops are especially adorable, and always impressive to non-piemakers (shh don't tell them how simple they are). Plus for this particular pie, I loved the way the lattice top makes little windowpanes for the individual cherries to be displayed in. It almost made it look to good to eat. Almost.
I had hoped my filling would turn out a bit juicier than it did, but apparently the cherries I used just weren't feeling the juice. I actually ended up liking the way each cherry kept it's individual shape throughout the cooking process rather than becoming one big mass of filling. It allowed both varieties of cherry to be showcased. This pie was a treat to eat, and the perfect dessert for the ending of a Father's Day meal.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first piesignment! Stay tuned for round two!

Sweet Cherry Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 pounds sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cointreau
1 teaspoon almond extract
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
1 tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Pate Brisee (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lowest position. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll one disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Wrap dough around rolling pin; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and sides of plate (do not stretch dough). Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhand all around. In a large bowl, combine cherries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and cointreau and almond extract; toss until cherries are coated. I used a smaller amount of sugar than recommended because I really wanted the cherry flavor to come through, so taste your filling to see if more is necessary. Pour filling into prepared bottom crust.

On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll second disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Cut into eight 1 1/2-inch-wide strips; discard the shortest two. Weave strips over filling to form a lattice. Using kitchen shears, trim strips so they hang over rim by 1 inch. Tuck strips under rim of bottom crust; press to seal. Crimp or flute crust all around the edge.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush lattice with egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is bubbling rapidly all over, 60 to 70 minutes (tent with aluminum foil when crust starts to brown, about 40 minutes). Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool to room temperature, at least 3 hours.

Pate Brisee

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until dough just comes together (no longer than 30 seconds).

Divide dough in half, shape each into a square, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days), or freeze for up to 1 month.


  1. Wow, that pie looks adorable! Not to mention... perfect for the 4th of July!

  2. ironically enough, i did make a cherry pie last night and i'll post it tomorrow and send you the link!

  3. @Heather: Yay! Can't wait to see it!

  4. i love the yellow cherries-- they are delish! i've never made a pie with sweet cherries before, but it sure does look good!

  5. Ok, I'm afraid of the cherry pie! I was going to try it then I stuck with a strawberry rhubarb. I'm a failure.

    Did you know that you are one of my favorite blogs around? Well, you are! And you prove it I've got a little somethin' somethin' for you over at my place today. Swing on by and take a look.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

  6. This looks so delicious! What a beautiful lattice :)


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