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
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.