Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sweet Cherry Pie Recipe

Here is the long awaited Cherry Pie recipe. It's a fantastic and yummy recipe. The crust is light and flaky and the cherries are tasty with a hint of almonds. (See my two apple pie recipes for an example and pictures of making the crust.)

The secret is to use fresh cherries and to gently precook them. Never overcook your fruit. Do not use canned cherries. That is just not done, especially in cherry season and don't be tempted by frozen unless you hanker for a pie in the middle of winter. I use sweet cherries in my pie, Bing or Rainier. If you use Columbia River Tart Cherries, for example, or any tart cherries, you may want to up the sugar a 1/4 or 1/2 cup.

The first step is to wash your cherries. Don't forget to do this.

It's a great excuse for a still action water shot.

Next, pit the cherries. If you want to spend a lot of time pitting these by hand with a paring knife, go right ahead. For one pie, you need to pit about 4 cups.

Or you can buy this handy and very dandy cherry pitter and save yourself a lot of time and agony.

The next step is crucial, cook your fruit.

Mix together:

4 cups frozen cherries, pitted, naturally. Measure these after pitting.
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 Tablespoons quick cooking, not instant, tapioca
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Amaretto

Mix into cooked cherries:
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
Butter as needed to dot. (optional)
Sugar for sprinkling on top of the lattice. (optional)
(Preheat your oven to 400F.)

Cook this mixture over a very low heat until the cherries release their juice. Then cook a little more until it starts to thicken. Do not cook for more than 1/2 hour. Let the cherries cool completely before using. Mix in 1/2 cup of sliced, blanched almonds. This will give the pie some additional texture. I also like to dot the pie with butter before I put the lattice on top.

Roll out your pie dough you made the day before, grease your pie pan well, gently lift the rolled out dough and put it into the pan, use the extra to give your pie a crust edge and then pour in the cherry mixture and cover with a lattice top.

The lattice top is a little tricky. You can simple follow the pie dough recipe for bottom and top and then cut that dough into a lattice or you can first make some marzipan. Then combine the marzipan with a quarter cup AP flour and roll out and use that for your lattice top. Or, finally, you can follow the pie dough recipe, cut it in 1/2 and then add in about a 1/2 cup of marzipan and mix together. You will find that you'll need to add another quarter cup of flour.

Anyway you make it, cut the strips into 1/2 inch widths, lay across the pie, I like 4 strips and then 3 running the other way. Pinch the strips into the edge of the pie. If you are feeling ambitious, you can interlace the strips. I do both. I interlace when I'm feeling ambitious. ;-) I also like to sprinkle some sugar over the lattice if you want. It makes the pie extra special if you do this.

Just a warning, cherry pies, if made the right way, with a ton of cherries, always overflow. So, put this on a sheet pan with, if you have it, some parchment paper underneath. No mess, no foul.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 for about 35-40 minutes. Let this pie cool completely before you cut it. Rack it! As we say in my kitchen. Then, enjoy your terrific pie.

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My pie dough recipe

For two crust pie, approximately 8 or 9 inches. (top and bottom)

2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 ounces shortening chilled
2 1/2 ounces butter chilled but not frozen.
1/2 cup ice water or as needed
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 egg, slightly beaten

For single crust pie

1 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons sugar
2 ounces shortening chilled
1 1/2 ounces butter chilled but not frozen.
1/4 cup ice water or as needed
1 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 egg (2 tablespoons), slightly beaten

Combine the dry ingredients and mix. As you are mixing the dry ingredients add the shortening and butter until you get a pea like consistency with the dough. Add more butter if needed but do not go over 3 ounces for two crust or 1 1/2 ounces for single crust. Make sure the butter has been siting out of the fridge for 1/2 hour, it should be cold but workable, and that the shortening is chilled as well but not frozen or hard.

Next add the vinegar and beaten egg. Then slowly pour in the 1/2 cup ice water until the dough starts to come together. As soon as it comes together, stop adding the water and stop mixing. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest for 4 hours or better a full day.


Grease the pie plate liberally.

After the dough has rested, gently roll out. To roll out you can either use a piece of parchment on a board or some flour on your baking surface. I like to create a ball and then gently push down the ball to flatten it.

Next roll out the dough. I always roll in one direction only. Be very gentle with the pie dough and don't overwork it.

Measure the dough against the pie plate to make sure you have enough.

Then gently drape the dough over the pie plate.

Then shape the rolled out dough into the plate. You can crimp and decorate your edge if you'd like but with pies that have tops, either full or lattices, the decoration will be lost. Notice, I am doing very little trimming. I stretch the dough to shape it over the pie plate. It helps if you've rolled the dough more or less into a circle slightly larger than the plate.

If you are using parchment, make sure you roll the dough slightly bigger than the pie plate and using the parchment paper, turn the dough over onto the pie plate.

It's easiest if you put the plate onto the dough. If the parchment paper is on a piece of cardboard or cutting board, so much the easier. (If you are making a top and a bottom, roll out about 1/2 for the bottom. See the pie recipe for directions for the top.)

Trim and crimp and don't forget to dock, that is fork, the dough well. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

And remember, do not fear your pie dough. And be gentle. Good pie dough is delicate. Butter should be dotted through out the dough. This will make it flakey. You pie dough should not be bread like. This is not bread. Do not over knead.

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