Saturday, January 18, 2014

I promised you cherry pie

And here it is. Remember that when last we met, we were considering the cherry.

There are far fancier confections, but to me cherry pie remains the queen of desserts. This recipe, from Marion Cunningham's Fannie Farmer Cookbook, adapts both her sour cherry and sweet cherry pie formulas. Since who knows but what you might pick up a bag of Montmorency and a bag of Bing cherries -- one variety sour, one sweet -- let us compromise on the amount of sugar called for in each of the recipes, and use a scant half cup.

Fruit pies are forgiving in the way of measurements and things because they really are so simple. A crust, made of flour, some shortening, and water, is filled with fresh fruit and sugar, and baked for forty minutes or so. And that's all. Once you perfect your crust making technique, you may find pies are a lot less fussy to deal with than cakes and cookies. And even if they don't look perfect, they taste so luscious.

Cherry pie

Have ready: pastry dough for an 8-inch 2 crust pie, homemade or purchased.

Line an 8 inch pie pan with half the rolled dough. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Mix in a large bowl:
  • 1/2 cup sugar (scant, depending on the sweetness of your cherries)
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups pitted cherries, fresh or canned (if using canned, drain, reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup and mix 1/2 cup of cherry juices into the sugar)

Toss together until the cherries are well coated, and pile into the pastry-lined pan. Use the remaining dough to make a lattice or plain top crust -- if plain, cut vents in the top to allow steam to escape. Unless you are an absolute expert here, you'll find that half the enjoyment of pie making comes from learning not to worry how the hell it looks. So "crimp" or "flute" the "edges," just like the cookbooks say, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more, until the pie is nicely browned.

A baking sheet placed on the rack below the pie, or on the oven floor itself, will of course help to catch any juices. If you forget this precaution and find yourself with a nice big glob of cherry syrup burned to the bottom of your oven, a big handful of salt thrown on the still-bubbling mess will help in cleanup later. This is a hint to the young housekeeper that even Fannie Farmer herself, circa 1896, omits to mention.

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