Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cherry pie recipe for Father's Day (or, How I conquered my fear of pie crust)

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This cherry pie (okay, maybe it's more of a cherry galette, but whatever) has gotten me over a significant hump in my culinary life.

Until today I have had a deep insecurity about pie crust. In fact, it was bigger than pie crust: It was about the rolling pin. Every time I would apply a rolling pin to dough, it seemed, bad things happened. Pizza that looked like the state of Michigan made of Swiss cheese. Bits of sticky cookie dough glued to the counter. Nothing ever thin enough, nothing ever turning out anywhere near the way it looked in the pictures. Tough tarts. Floury cookies. Bad things.

But today we took the kids to Leona Valley to pick cherries - and we came home with more than 30 pounds. Pie was inevitable. I'll share a secret: I went to a local gourmet market this afternoon, hoping to find ready-made pie crust in the store's freezer that I might have been able to pass off as my own. They had none. I toyed with the idea of cherry cobbler - that was last year's cop-out when pie crust seemed insurmountable - but ultimately decided it was time to face the music.

Here's what I learned: With sheer determination and two sticks of butter, anything is possible. Meet our new Father's Day tradition.


Note: I made this galette-style so that I could actually make two, to use up more of the 30 pounds of cherries now sitting on my kitchen counter. The recipe below makes one double-crust pie or two single-crust pies or galettes. I used raw cane sugar because I love the way its dusky undertones work with the cherries, but regular granulated sugar would work fine too.

Cherry pie (or cherry galette) for Father's Day
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 Tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter, frozen, cut into small cubes
  • ice water
  • 8 cups sweet cherries, pitted (my favorite tool for this: Oxo Good Grips Cherry Pitter)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp milk
First, take a deep breath and make the crust: Place the flour, salt, and 2 Tbsp sugar in the food processor and give it a spin to combine. Open the processor and sprinkle the bits of frozen butter over the flour mixture. Pulse five or six times, or until the whole thing inside looks like wet sand.

Now dribble over about 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse again; check the consistency. Does it hold together when you pinch some between your fingers? If not, add small amounts of ice water, pulse, and repeat. When it's ready, it will not look wet at all - you'll only know it's done by the fact that it holds together when you pinch it. Turn the dough out onto the counter, press it into two disks, wrap the disks in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for at least an hour.

Put the pitted cherries in a mixing bowl with 1/2 cup of the raw sugar and the cornstarch, and mix thoroughly. Let the cherries sit in the sugar-cornstarch mixture at room temperature while the dough is chilling. This will help the cherry juice flow once you get the pie in the oven. Go do something else for the balance of the hour.

When it's time, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle the counter with flour and roll out one of the dough disks to a rough circle. It's okay if it's not perfect - mine certainly weren't. Transfer the circle of dough to a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Heap half the cherry mixture into the center of the dough, then fold the edges of the circle up and part of the way onto the filling, leaving some of the cherries showing in the middle. Repeat with the other disk of dough and the rest of the cherries.

Combine the egg and the milk and brush the edges of the pies with this mixture, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar over the edges of the pies. Bake about 40 minutes or until the pies are golden brown on the edges and the cherries in the middle are shriveled and juicy. Let cool at least 1/2 hour before slicing.


Cherry

19 comments:

naomi said...

Your crust looks awesome! I'm about to jump in on pie crust and I'm so glad to hear that someone else has put off making it as well-that is until now for you. :)

Erika said...

Naomi - between you and me, I'm still not over the fear. I could easily screw it up next time. But at least I know I have one success under my belt. And, um, 29 more pounds of cherries to practice with. You can do it! Butter, butter, butter!

Baking is my Zen...sweet nibbles for the soul said...

The pie,ur...galette...looks fabulous! Beautifully browned...gosh, wish I could have a slice!

Carmen

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

30 pounds of cherries!! hilarious. So glad you made your own pie crust. Yes, with 2 sticks of butter you are bound for greatness. Sounds like a great time with your kids. Thanks for the pitter recommendation. I need one this summer for sure! xo

SMITH BITES said...

Erika ~ You just make me laugh! And I'm not laughing AT you because I've certainly been there with the whole 'rolling pin' aversion! But girl, this galette looks absolutely fabulous and I adore cherries. Not sure I'm gonna u-pick 30lbs worth but you've inspired me to make a cherry galette of my own. And yes, butter, butter and more butter makes anything possible!

Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious said...

Hey, does THAT ever look beautiful and delicious! Envy your Leona Valley excursion...been Bar Mitzvah-ing these last weekends, so no time here.

Wonderful photo! Consider a tiny splash of almond extract in either the crust or filling next time. Divine.

Erika said...

Great tip on the almond extract, Dorothy - I've put almond flour in cherry dishes before but somehow didn't think to add the extract yesterday. More pie crust in the refrigerator, more cherries in the sink...I'll remember this time!

Jackie said...

Oh my, that looks amazing! Great photos, too!

Anonymous said...

That cherry pie looks TO DIE FOR! WOW!

Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro said...

Wow, Erika. Congratulations on getting over the hump! This looks delicious! [K]

Erika said...

You guys are all too kind! I made more pie crust today, which turned into another cherry galette and a cherry-apricot galette. Equally beautiful. Next I must master the actual two-crust pie...crimping...venting...and then I'll consider it a job well done.

Chocolate Shavings said...

That galette looks delicious!

Sarah @ Mum In Bloom said...

Wow! Great job! My rolling pin terrifies me too :( Why is it that those of us who are good home cooks are so intimidated by pie crusts? I was too until I tried these two Martha Stewart recipes that were very sucessful (and consistent!) for me.

http://muminbloom.blogspot.com/2010/03/recipe-maple-nut-pie-pie-crust-recipe.html

http://muminbloom.blogspot.com/2010/05/recipe-apple-pie-crust-recipe.html

Found you on foodgawker and I'm now a follower :) Love your photos.

Erika said...

Sarah - I think this crust is based on a Martha Stewart recipe too (the pate brisee). Maybe she just has a way with crust!

Erika said...

Oh and Sarah - so glad you found me! Can't wait to check out your blog too!

Lana @ Never Enough Thyme said...

Erika - I can really empathize with you on this post. There are two things I've never been successful with in the kitchen and those are pie crust and biscuits. Bread - yes! Pizza crust - yes! Dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls...yes! But pie crusts and biscuits are my nemesis.

It's time for me to conquer this challenge as well. I'm getting my two stick of butter ready!

suz said...

Congrats! Look at that beautiful pie-conquering-fear post. It looks so yummy. Have you read my pie-conquering-fear post? http://youcanteatwhat.blogspot.com/2010/05/keep-your-eyes-on-pies.html

Us fearful of crust making must stick together :)

Erika said...

@Lana - I have just the biscuit recipe for you - completely foolproof. It's here:

http://www.examiner.com/x-2539-LA-Cooking-Examiner~y2009m8d16-Recipe-Savory-cheese-biscuits-with-yogurt

Skip the cheese and they're just regular biscuits.

Suz - one of the great things about writing this post has been finding out how many other people are scared of piecrust! Of course, you have the whole gluten-free thing going on too...makes it much more complicated, I expect.

Lentil Breakdown said...

I'm so shocked you're intimidated by crust! You seem like you can do it all! I too use the Martha pate brisee. I've tried two of hers. One has cornmeal and it's great for savory tarts or galettes. Just made a strawberry-rhubarb galette that's on my blog with her dough.

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