Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tart Cherry Pie

I never used to like cherry pie when I was younger. The stuff that I had tried at restaurants or from the grocery store were too sweet and not very flavorful. Needless to say, I was an apple pie girl.

But that was before one of my roommates introduced me to tart cherry pies. I can't say that cherry pie is my favorite. Actually, I am an admittedly fanatical fan of rhubarb pie. The more I taste homemade cherry pie, though, the more I like it.

The recipe is relatively simple, one that is inspired by The King Arthur's Flour Baker's Companion.

For the crust, I use my handy pie crust recipe from Mark Bittman:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
16 tbs butter (2 sticks), cold and cut into small cubes
6 tbs ice water

I mix the dry ingredients together. Then I cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Then I mix in the ice water until it clings together. Next, I turn the mixture out onto the counter and knead it with the heel of my hand for less than a minute to more thoroughly incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. I then divide the dough into 2 portions, form them into balls, wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes.

After ten minutes, the dough is ready to be rolled out to fit the pie pan.

For the cherry pie filling:
5-6 cups sour cherries
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup tapioca or corn starch
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs butter

I preheated the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

I like to use fresh cherries rather than canned. For this particular pie, I had picked the cherries earlier in the day. I measured out the right amount of fruit, washed it and plucked off any stems. Tart cherries are a lot softer than sweet cherries and all I had to do to remove the seeds was to squeeze them with my fingers. When the cherries were pitted, I mixed in all of the other ingredients except the butter.

I poured the cherries into the pie pan with the rolled out crust, dotted the top with the butter. Then I rolled out to 2nd portion of crust and sealed the pie. I then cut slits in the top to ventilate and placed the pie in the oven for 15 minutes. After that, I turned the heat down to 350 degrees and baked the pie for an additional 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust was brown on top.

The pie has to sit for about an hour for the juices to thicken and the filling to cool. Sometimes, my housemates and I are too impatient for that. I like to serve the pie with vanilla ice cream to counteract some of the tartness.


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