Friday, July 22, 2011
If someone were to ask me "what is the epitome of seasons", it would be summer.
The weather should make you happy, require little clothing, provide lots of sunshine and opportunity to be active in ways like beach volleyball and outdoor lane swimming. The weather should not provide you with another job called shoveling. Blah.
If someone were to ask me "what is the epitome of a good husband", it would be one that makes you laugh at least 4 times a day and picks up after the crumbs you leave while eating over the counter.
If someone were to ask me "what is the epitome of jam", it would be strawberry jam. Nothing beats it.
And if someone were to ask me "what is the epitome of pie", it would be Cherry Pie. Hands down.
Pie is messy. It's a little rough around the edges with burnt bits hear and there. It oozes juice when sliced. It's flaky, tender, warm and humbling. It never looks perfect but it always tastes good. And even though it never looks perfect, it really always looks perfect.
We've done pie crust before, the two of us.....
Cold fat is mucho important. When solid fat is rolled out in the dough it creates layers that separate layers of dough. That way you get some striation happening....kinda like this: dough, fat, dough, fat, dough....you get it.
The goal is to have the dough layers set before the fat melts to keep these layers intact and distinct. That equals flakiness and that is achieved by hotness. That oven needs to be screaming hot. Let's go with 425 degrees F. That's a good number for pie.
I'd still eat a pie with a soggy bottom vs. no pie, but if we can avoid it, well that's just grand. Put that pie on the bottom rack of your oven to direct most of the heat to the bottom crust. Let's get it crispy and flaky just like the top crust. No need to discriminate - all crust should be treated equally.
Let's get right to the good stuff.
Before you do anything, get your hands on lots of cherries. Like....2 lbs of cherries. I put on a yellow polka dot dress and went picking for mine.
You'll have to pit them. If you have a pitter, great! If not then prepare to have dark red fingernails and a new red polkadot wardrobe.
I wore white pajama pants when I pitted my cherries. Ya...I am not the most practical person alive. You can probably imagine what they look like now....Classy.
Sweet Cherry Pie
Makes 6-8 servings
For the crust:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup cold pure lard, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tbsp ice cold water
For the filling:
1 ¾ lb pitted and halved cherries (about 5 cups)
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 well beaten large egg for brushing
1 tsp granulated sugar for topping
To make crust, first place the butter and lard in the freezer for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or a bench scraper, cut the fat into flour to break it down to hazelnut-sized pieces. Use your fingertips to rub pieces of fat into flour, flattening it into sheets between you thumbs and fore fingers. Work quickly. Continue until most of the flour is incorporated into the fat and the dough looks shaggy. Do not let the fat warm up and get oily or your crust will not be flaky.
Place the bowl in freezer for 10 minutes. Make a well in the center of shaggy dough, add cold water and toss with a fork until the dough is moistened and it holds together in clumps. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and bring it together with your hands, pressing in loose bits until it is evenly moist and cohesive but not completely smooth. Separate about one-third of the dough (for the lattice top), flatten each portion into a disk, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll larger portion of dough out to a round about 12 inches. Loosely roll it around the rolling pin, slide an 8-inch pie dish under the rolling pin and unroll the dough over the dish. Fit the dough gently into the edges and up the sides of the dish, allowing the excess dough to hang over the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll the other portion of dough out to a 10-inch wide round with 1/8-inch thickness and slice it into ¾-inch strips. You should have 12 strips.
To make the cherry filling, stir together sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch with a fork in a small bowl. Add to cherries in a large bowl and fold together gently until evenly blended. Spoon cherry filling evenly into chilled pie crust. Arrange strips over top in a lattice pattern. Place the pie in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F and place a baking sheet on the bottom rack. Bake pie on baking sheet and bake on bottom rack of oven for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake until juices have been bubbling for at least 5 minutes, about 40 minutes longer.