Thursday, July 22, 2010

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?? Yes She Can!



Pie crust used to be on my list of things I was terrified of. My last attempt at making a pie crust ended badly. I ended up with a sore hand from repeatedly banging it on the counter and a frankenstein-looking pie crust that was dry and tough.

Fast forward 2 years. I am standing in my kitchen looking at 2 pounds of fresh cherries that are quickly going to start decaying if I don't do something with them fast. What to do?

I had no choice but to consider a pie application. No problem, I thought. I'll just go down to the basement freezer and pull out a handy dandy store bought pie crust. Wrong. No pie crusts in the freezer. Clock ticking on fresh cherries. How bad could it turn out this time?? I have 2 more years cooking experience under my belt. I can do this. Breathe. Concentrate. Suck it up. MAKE A PIE CRUST FROM SCRATCH.

I gathered my ingredients....2 1/2 cups of AP flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and two sticks of cold butter- oh- and a glass of ice water. I assembled my food processor. I put the flour, sugar and salt in the processor and pulsed it a few times to sift and mix it. Then I added the butter, cut into pieces. I pulsed that until it looked all crumbly. Through the feed tube I added one tablespoon of cold water at a time until the dough started to stick to itself and form a ball in the machine. So far so good!

I dumped the crumbly mess on the counter and formed it into a ballish sort of thing. Then I cut it in half and formed each half into a disc shape. In the icebox it went for 30 minutes.

While that was happening, I made the filling. I had about a pound and a half of cherries (after I painstakingly pitted all of them). I mixed them in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of instant tapioca, a cup and a quarter of sugar, and a dash of salt. This needed to sit and soak for at least 15 minutes.

After 30 minutes, I took the discs out of the icebox and began rolling them out. To my utter surprise and shock, they rolled out beautifully. I was able to get the bottom crust in my pyrex pie dish without cursing or violence. I poured the cherry mixture in, put a few pats of butter on top, then rolled out the top crust and put it on top. I sealed the edges and cut a few vents. It went in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. Oh- and make sure you put a cookie sheet under it, because inevitably it will leak.

I even took the leftover dough scraps and rolled them out, cut them with a biscuit cutter, sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on them and baked them with the pie. The resulting cookies taste like really crispy shortbread. I almost wanted to make another batch of dough to make more cookies!

After an hour, I was rewarded with a really good cherry pie. Was it beautiful? No. Was it the best pie I've ever eaten? No. But I made it from scratch!

My next project will be a rhubarb, strawberry, blueberry pie!

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