Well, not forever. Never forever. Just for now. To be completely crustless would be too cruel. That said, it’s definitely time to create a different menu, grateful of what was learned, and ready to put new knowledge to use in a less crusty environment. Change, as they say, is good. Fitting too, considering this past week I celebrated the start of my second year of this westward exploration, and today is the third anniversary of cooking in my heels. So like a ladle-bearing Lewis & Clark or saucepan-toting Sacagawea, I embark upon chapter two (and year four), eager and ready to climb new culinary cliffs and forge gastronomic gorges. Oy that was a mouthful…
All the corny historical references aside, since I’m no longer doing the professional pie thing, I thought I’d leave the dough rolling with a bang. Not one, but TWO of my favorite constructs of crust and filling. Neither of these recipes are mine, and that’s OK because I’ve learned over many years and many pies, you just don’t mess with perfection. The first, a Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie, I discovered in the NY Times a few years ago, and first tried as the birthday “cake” for my mom (a cherry pie freak if ever there was one.) I love that instead of the usual lattice crust, you cut out circles or hearts or whatever floats your boat, and use that to create the top.
The second recipe is a Spiced Peach Pie with Lattice Crust I brought to a friend’s rooftop fireworks viewing Fourth of July bash in Chelsea several years ago. Here’s a tip for making the often frustrating lattice crust. Cut the strips out, and weave them on a piece of wax paper, pressing wherever crust meets crust. Pop the crust in the freezer just until it gets firm, then place the whole lattice on top of the pie. Let thaw a little, trim and crimp as usual. A whole lot less messy and frustrating!
For both of these recipes, I’ve included the crust they suggest, however when I make these, I use my own all-butter Pate Brisee recipe instead.
Oh, and what will I be doing instead of baking pies? Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be an interesting adventure, hopefully tasty, and you are welcome to come along… ;-)
Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie (NYT, June 18, 2010)
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, more for rolling out dough
- 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons instant tapioca
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 pounds sour cherries (about 6 cups), rinsed and pitted
- 1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Demerara sugar, for sprinkling.
To make dough: in bowl of a food processor pulse together flour and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until chickpea-size pieces form. Add 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture just comes together. Separate dough into 2 disks, one using 2/3 dough, the other using the remaining. Wrap disks in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before rolling out and baking.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place larger dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.
While pie crust is baking, prepare filling. In bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tapioca and cinnamon (use more tapioca if you prefer a thicker, more solid filling, and less if you like a looser, juicier filling). Run the motor until tapioca is finely ground. Place cherries in a bowl and add sugar and tapioca mixture. Drizzle in kirsch or brandy and toss gently to combine.
When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Remove foil and weights. Scrape cherry filling into pie crust.
Place smaller disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it 3/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or several round cookie cutters of different sizes) to cut out circles of dough. Arrange circles on top of cherry filling in a pattern of your choice.
Brush top crust with cream and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar. Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling begins to bubble, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, allowing filling to set before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.
Spiced Peach Pie with Lattice Crust (Bon Appetit, July 2000)
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
- 4 tablespoons (or more) ice water
- 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 pounds medium peaches
Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Add butter and shortening and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Mix in 4 tablespoons ice water. Mix in more water by tablespoonfuls if dough is dry, tossing until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other. Flatten into disks; wrap and chill at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Mix sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and spices in large bowl. Bring medium saucepan of water to boil. Drop in 3 peaches at a time; blanch 1 minute. Transfer peaches to bowl of cold water. Using small sharp knife, peel 1 peach. Cut peach in half; discard pit and slice thinly. Stir peach slices into sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining peaches. Let filling stand until juices form, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out larger dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13- to 14-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter deep-dish pie dish. Roll out smaller dough disk on lightly floured surface to 11-inch round. Using ruler as aid, cut dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
Spoon filling into dough-lined dish. Arrange some of dough strips atop pie, spacing 3/4 inch apart. Form lattice by arranging more dough strips at right angle to first strips, spacing 3/4 inch apart. Trim overhang of bottom crust and lattice strips to 3/4 inch. Fold under and crimp edge decoratively.
Bake pie until crust is golden and filling bubbles thickly, covering edge of crust with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool pie to room temperature before serving.
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