Cherry pie II.
It's cherry season, so I couldn't resist a pie-- even though my very first entry for this blog was a cherry pie. One cannot have too many cherry pies! The one I made first was a "light" version, ie. a much less buttery crust. I went all-out on this pie. Fresh cherries instead of filling, and a from-scratch basic butter pie crust.
So here goes yumthing...
The key to a really good berry pie lies in fresh berries. Right now, height of summer, blueberries and cherries are the key to excellence. ;) This pie could JUST as easily be done with blueberries (I made one last year).
And if you have fresh berries, you need something to hold them all together. Here's where the magic ingredient of pie filling comes in: cornstarch.
And then the crust, which can be daunting, if only because it seems so simple and yet can go so easily wrong. Simple ingredients, simple instructions, not a problem.
Cherry pie a la Kate.
Serves ~8, 9" pie pan
For the crust (makes enough for top and bottom):
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of cold butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
5 or 6 cups pitted fresh tart cherries, drained
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
Making the crust (make ahead up to two days, but at least an hour or two):
In a large shallow bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Cut up the butter into pieces and use a pastry cutter to break and mix the butter into the flour mixture. Combine until the butter pieces are mixed in and small, but they don't need to be consistent. The key to the flakiness of the crust lies in the butter being coated (not completely mixed to a pulp) with the flour. Add the ice water (no cubes) 1/4 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon or your hands to start putting the dough together. Sprinkle a few drops of water as needed, but don't make the dough too wet. Knead it briefly until it forms one large ball of dough. It should be moist and pliable, not overly mushy. Separate the dough into two equal balls and wrap each one individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour -- three is better, at least -- before rolling.
Making the filling:
In a small saucepan on low heat, bring 1 cup of cherries and the granulated sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Meanwhile, pour the rest of the cherries into a large bowl. In another small bowl, combine the cornstarch and the water until smooth.
Once the cherries in the saucepan come to a boil, whisk about 1/3 of the cherry mixture into the cornstarch bowl and stir. Replace the saucepan on the stove and return to a boil. Once mixture is boiling, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Stir the mixture over low heat until it becomes syrupy and thick -- this can take a little while, have patience! Scrape this thick cherry syrup from the saucepan over the top of the cherries in the large bowl, and fold in.
Putting the pie together:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack at the lowest level.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place each piece on a floured surface, lightly flouring the top as well. Roll out to make a circle 11" or so in diameter. Place it in the bottom of the pie pan and press lightly to make sure it fits firmly. Pour the filling into the pie shell, spreading evenly. Place the second layer of rolled dough over the top of the pie (if you like, you can cut the dough for the top into strips and weave them to make a proper design) and press around the edges with your fingers to connect the bottom and the top layers of dough and to make sure there is no excess hanging off the sides. Trim with a paring knife if necessary.
Poke a few holes with a fork in the top of the pie and bake for a total of 50 minutes. If after about 40 minutes the top of the pie has not started to become golden, move the rack to the top of the oven for the last ten minutes or so to brown.
Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature -- great with ice cream or whip. ;) Or plain! The crust is so good you don't need any accompaniment.
Et voila! :D
Soundtrack to this baking adventure: The Decemberists' Picaresque.