Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cherry Pie

This past weekend, I took it upon myself to officially dub it as, Family Extravaganza Weekend. Aside from Father's Day, this weekend was also my Grandma's 89th birthday, as well as my brother Jason's birthday. Busy weekend, no? You could say that.

As has become customary, I asked Jason what he wanted for his birthday dessert. I had assumed that he'd ask for either a coconut cake or banana pudding. But, instead... he surprised me and willingly shared his selection with my dad. He chose Cherry Pie (which, is my dad's favorite dessert). I was pretty excited about this selection, because you see... Cherry Pie is probably one of the most favorite things that I make. And this Cherry Pie is a recipe that I came up with all on my own. Which makes it even more special to me. It's like my little baby.
Usually, I make a double crust and use an Emeril Pie Crust Recipe, but this time, I decided to try a pie crust recipe from my book Baking From My Home To Yours (which is incidentally on sale for 12.99 from Amazon right now!). And you know what folks? As much as I love Emeril, I gotta say... Dorie's pie crust was better. Tender and thick. And I made it without a food processor. Just me, a pastry blender and raw palms.

This time around, I decided to do things a little differently...
I decided to attempt a lattice top. Using this wonderful guide from Elise at Simply Recipes, I rolled my dough, cut my strips and started assembling the lattice top, using the instructions constantly.

And it turned out beautifully...

I brushed the top with heavy cream and then even sprinkled a little brown sugar on top to get a caramel-y color to the top. I then wrapped aluminum foil (that I had sprayed cooking spray on...learned that one the hard way, last time) around the edges of the pie, so they wouldn't brown too quickly. And away into the oven it went.

It was a delicious pie, if I do say so myself. And I am so excited that I gave the lattice top a try. It made for a much prettier pie that screamed "homemade with love!"

Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day!Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
- makes enough for a 9-inch double crust -

3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ½ sticks very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces 1/3 cup very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening (non-trans fat), cut into 2 piecesAbout ½ cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface.

Separate the dough and shape the dough into two disks and wrap them. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. (If the ingredients were very cold and you worked very quickly, you might be able to roll the dough immediately—you'll know: the dough will be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.) The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Once the dough is fitted into the pie plate, refrigerate it again. If you don't have time for a longish chill, just keep the pie plate in the fridge while you preheat the oven.

Cherry Pie
2 cans of Sweet Pitted Bing Cherries (14.5 oz cans)
1 can of Tart Cherries
3 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup Dried Sweet & Tart Cherries (about 3 ozs)
¼ cup Granulated Sugar
1 tbsp Butter
½ tsp Almond Extract
Red Food Coloring
Cream or milk
Pie crust for a double crust pie

Strain syrup from bing cherries and reserve juice. Strain tart cherries and reserve it’s juice separately. Combine the bing cherries and the tart cherries in a bowl with ¼ cup of the sweet juice (save the leftover juice), 2 tbsps of the tart juice, and the cornstarch; stir to blend and set aside.

Combine 1 cup of the sweet juice along with 1 tbsp of the tart juice with the dried cherries in a large saucepan. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes on medium low heat to allow the dried cherries to plump up. Uncover and increase the heat to medium and simmer until mixture bubbles thickly and it has reduced to about ¾ cup, stirring occasionally (about another 10 minutes). Add your other cherry mixture to the saucepan mixture along with the butter and sugar and heat thoroughly over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens (about 3-5 minutes). After mixture has thickened, pull off heat and add almond extract and a few drops of red food coloring. Transfer pie filling to a medium bowl and let it cool completely.

After it has completely cooled, position a rack in the second to the bottom row in your oven and preheat oven to 400 F.

Roll our pie disk on a floured surface to 12 inch round. Transfer to a 9 inch diameter pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1 inch. Put pie plate into the fridge while you roll out your top. Roll the top crust to 12 inch diameter. Spoon pie filling into bottom crust and then cover with top crust. Crimp edges decoratively (you may refrigerate pie for a little while at this point, if dough is very warm)and lightly brush the top and edges of the pie with cream lightly. (I also sprinkled brownsugar on top the crust). Make four slits in the top of the crust to allow the steam to escape (unless making a lattice top). Place aluminum foil strips around the edges of the pie to keep them from browning too quickly. Put pie on a baking sheet with a rim and place into the preheated oven.

After 25-30 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and continue to cook.Cook for about 50-55 minutes, until crust is golden.

Transfer pie to rack and allow to cool for 2 hours. Serve pie lukewarm or room temperature.