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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sweet Cherry Pie


I attempted to make a heart in the center . . .


Cherry pie is one of my dad's favorite desserts. I've always wanted to make a fresh cherry pie, and I even received a cherry pitter for Christmas to do just that. I served this pie for the Father's Day dinner Bob and I made for my parents. I find making a pie entirely from scratch very satisfying, and that is especially true for this pie because my family had never had a truly homemade cherry pie.

I don't typically like cherry pie. The cherries are soggy and have a strange texture. The cherries in this pie have a texture that is, well, natural. They are more firm but still very juicy. The pie crust was perfectly flaky, and the whole thing is relatively quick to make. I did the entire thing in 1 day, although I would have preferred to do the crust the day before to lessen the work. My family loved this pie, and I actually did too!

For me, the pie dough was very sticky. The high humidity here may have affected the consistency a bit, but the finished product was fantastic, so don't worry if yours doesn't quite match the description. Some CI notes - the vodka is not detectible at all but helps maintain the moisture in the crust (not recommended to skip), and the tapioca should be measured first, then ground. Since my instant tapioca came pre-ground, I used 2 tablespoons ground, and it was fine. Lastly, if you use frozen fruit, measure it frozen then let it thaw before making the filling. I was going to do a lattice top for this pie, but I read on CI's website that they do not recommend lattices for cherry pie - it allows too much moisture to evaporate and alters the juiciness of the filling.

Happy Baking!!!

Sweet Cherry Pie

For the pie dough:
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup vodka, cold
1/4 cup cold water

For the cherry filling:
2 red plums, halved and pitted
6 cups (about 2 pounds) pitted sweet cherries or 6 cups pitted frozen cherries, halved
1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons bourbon (optional)
2 tablespoons instant tapioca, ground
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

1. For the pie dough: process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening; process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour).

2. Add remaining 1 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

3. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 equal balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

4. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with 1 hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 40 minutes.

5. For the filling: Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Process plums and 1 cup halved cherries in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

5. Strain puree through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids. Stir remaining halved cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, bourbon (if using), tapioca, and cinnamon (if using) into puree; let stand for 15 minutes.

6. Transfer cherry mixture, including all juices, to dough-lined plate. Scatter butter pieces over fruit. Roll second disk of dough on generously floured work surface (up to ¼ cup) to 11-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least ½-inch overhang. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges with egg mixture. With sharp knife, make 8 evenly spaced 1-inch-long vents in top crust. Freeze pie 20 minutes.

7. Place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble around the edges and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.

8. Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to room temperature so juices have time to thicken, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Source: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated


  1. Love the heart in the middle! And your dad is one lucky guy to get all your goodies :-)

  2. Holy freaking... cow. What a great looking pie.

  3. I LOVE the vodka pie crust - for the crust-challenged like me, it's simply fool-proof! I made a cherry pie too with it a couple weeks ago and it was so good. Too good, perhaps :)

  4. This looks like a perfect cherry pie! I need to try a crust with vodka!

  5. Cherry Pie is my favorite fruit pie. Maybe I will get one someday.


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