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Monday, July 12, 2010

Spiced Cherry Pie

Now, here's a timely recipe to try out my One Pie Dough to Rule Them All recipe I gave you last night.  Try it before the fleeting cherry season is over.  Do try, even if you're one of those who couldn't stand the generic, gloopy cherry pie - I'm looking at you Matt.  Because this recipe, this ain't your usual, generic cherry pie.  It might even be the best cherry pie you'll ever tasted.  You try it and tell me.

The secret to this pie is the spices.  When I was tinkering with my cherry pie recipe, I thought adding some spices to it would be fun.  So I went to my spice rack and found a blend that I made for my French spiced bread, Pain d'Epices.  It's got the usual cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, but also with a generous amount of ginger powder, giving it an interesting, unusual character.  It turned out beautifully in the first cherry pie I baked for the season.  Now I won't ever bake my cherry pie without it again.


Spiced Cherry Pie

1 recipe One Pie Dough to Rule Them All (Or use your favorite pie dough, even a store-bought one if you must)
2 lbs | just under 1 kg sweet cherries (Bing or similar varieties)
1 cup | 200 g granulated sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of clove
3 tbsp cornstarch or ClearJel
juice from 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 beaten egg blended with a bit of water to make an eggwash
demerara sugar (or other large-grain sugar) to sprinkle on top

You will also need a 9" pie plate.  I heartily recommend using a simple glass pie plate for this.  Glass pie plates bake up the best and most crisp pie crust, and you can see how the bottom crust is doing so there's no guess work involved.  

Note: This recipe uses regular sweet cherries, since sour cherries have been such a pain to find this season.  If you're one of those lucky souls with ample supply of sour cherries (p.s. I hate you) you can adapt it by omitting the lemon juice.  

Preheat the oven to 400F | 200C. 

Roll out your pie dough into 2 rounds, each just slightly larger than the pie plate.  (If you're working in a hot kitchen - looking at you New Yorkers - put the rolled-out dough rounds in between sheets of plastic or parchment on a cookie sheet and refrigerate while you deal with the cherries.)  

Pit the cherries, discard the pits and keep the cherries in a large bowl.  I find one of these cherry pitters indispensible, but if you don't have it you can just cut the cherries in half and remove the pits.  

In a separate bowl, measure the sugar, spices, and cornstarch (or ClearJel) into it.  Stir well with a fork to thoroughly blend the dry ingredients together, then pour it into the bowl over the pitted cherries.  Add the lemon juice and toss to blend and coat all the cherries with the sugar and the lemon juice.  (Your bare hands are the best tool for this step.)

Line the bottom crust on the pie plate.  Don't press the dough into the plate, you'll stretch it out and it will shrink up too much during baking.  Pick up the edge of the dough and push it down into the plate.  Pat it down thoroughly to smooth the dough out.   

Pour the cherry filling into the lined pie plate.  Spread it around the even out.  Brush the eggwash around the edge of the bottom crust to help seal the top and bottom crusts.  Cover with the top crust, pressing down the edges to help seal.  With a sharp knife or kitchen sheers, cut the excess dough around the edges of the pie plate.  Then, using the tines of a fork, press down the edges to make a pretty pattern, or crimp the edges if you want.  Cut a few slits over the top to vent the pie during baking.  

You can also make a lattice top with this dough.  Cut the dough round intended for the top crust into 10-12 strips.  Place four across the top of the pie, then weave in the other four to make a woven lattice top.  There's no special instruction for this.  If you're using my One Pie Dough to Rule Them All you won't have any problem with it.  The dough strips will be so sturdy you can practically knit with them.  If you're using other wimpy pie dough, you're on your own.  Heh.

Brush the top of the pie with the eggwash, sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.  

Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to just under an hour, until the crust is thoroughly golden brown on the top and bottom.  (I like to put the pie not on the middle rack but one just below it to help brown the bottom crust.)  You'll know it's completely done when the juice bubbles up through the slits on the top crust.  If the top crust turns golden brown before the bottom crust, you can cover the top completely with aluminum foil, or move your pie down closer to the bottom of the oven.  

Let the pie cool through, at least 3-4 hours, before cutting.  Now, if you used the cornstarch this pie will be a bit loose.  The ClearJel will help it set better than other starch.  But it will taste delicious either way.  

If you want to go totally over the top on this, make my Brown Butter Ice Cream and serve the pie with it à la mode!


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