Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cherry Pie - And A Literary Classic:

I'm a big fan of Pinterest (you may have seen the "follow me" button on the right of each post) and an even bigger fan of Pintester.  Now, Pintester (a.k.a. Sonja Foust) takes a couple of popular pins each week and tests them to see if they actually work.  Some do, some don't.  Either way, her blog is a good read, and saves you from wasting time on cooking/craft/health & beauty instructions that just don't work.  I should just add a word of caution - the articles and the ensuing comments can contain some fairly ripe language, so if you're easily offended I recommend you don't read it.  If you're a bit more down to earth, please head on over to Pintester.com and laugh along with the rest of us!

Today we're taking part in a bloggy link-up of slightly epic proportions and here is the link: http://pintester.com/2013/05/the-pintester-movement-craft-all-the-things.

Sonja has organised the Pintester Movement for 31st May where around 150 of us are testing Pinterest pins that we've had in our "Must Try This" file for ages and just haven't quite got around to.  And for me...this means pastry.  I should make a small confession here: pastry is one of the very few things in the world that I find a bit daunting.  I have never had much success with it (hard as concrete, soggy bottoms, tasteless etc etc) and believe me, I have tried.  Over the years (decades) several people of a geriatric nature have told me I'll never be able to make it as my hands are too warm...well pardon me for having good circulation!  So duly encouraged by Sonja to 'step outside your comfort zone' I pulled on my big girl knickers and gave it my best shot...and here's why:

One of my earliest food memories is of cherry pie, eaten while sitting on the bench top in a small commercial kitchen. In fact, I can probably trace my fascination with all things kitchen gadgety back to that moment too.  My early years were spent in rural Warwickshire where everything did double duty - including the staff canteen/restaurant where my Dad worked. So most mornings the place was filled with paint, glue, mini trampolines and squealing kids...and as lunchtime approached everything was stacked away and the place was transformed into an orderly grown-up tables and chairs type cafe. This particular day, the cook had made an extra cherry pie and invited the playgroup staff (which included my Mum) into the kitchen for a slice. It was the yummiest thing I had ever tasted. Obviously...being more than slightly obsessive by nature...I have been in search of the perfect cherry pie ever since. The original pin from which I took the pastry recipe can be found Here, it's actually a recipe for strawberry pie - which looks amazing - but it's winter here in Oz and I would need to sell a kidney or one of the kids to buy a kilo (2lbs) of fresh strawberries...hence the cherries.

For the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups plain/all purpose flour
225g / 8 oz or 2 sticks cold unsalted butter (yes I know, it's a LOT) cut into little cubes
1 tsp salt
1tsp sugar
6-10 tblspns iced water
The original recipe uses a food processor and I don't have one, but I do have a fabulous free standing mixer so I thought that would probably do. Taking into account all the "advice" I've received about warm hands and warm utensils, I measured everything into the mixer bowl, added the paddle attachment and placed the whole lot in the fridge for 30 mins.
Then I mixed it on slow for about 2 minutes.  It didn't work, I think you really need the cutting action of a food processor blade.  So, I ditched the paddle attachment and switched to my trusty old blender: it worked perfectly. 
See those little lumps in the flour?  They're butter, and they're pea-sized, so I'm back on track.  Next, I added 6 tblspns of the iced water and mixed it with a spatula...sawdust people, sawdust.  So I added the other 4 tblspns and mixed again.  This is what it looked like:
Not a whole lot better, but I was testing the pin so I stuck to its instructions precisely.  Do you see a slightly bigger wodge of dough in the bottom left of the photo?  That's the result of my "pinch test". According to the original, you take a small lump of dough and squish it as in the photo below:
If the dough holds together, it's moist enough.  Well, it was holding, so I considered it done.  I tipped the whole lot out on the bench and kneaded a couple of times to bring it all together.  I say "kneaded", but really I just scooped the piles of crumbs into the middle and squished...hard.  I don't think you're supposed to be that rough with pastry, but at least it all came together finally.  I cut the dough into 2 slightly unequal pieces, cling wrapped them both and put them in the fridge.  The original recipe says to chill the dough for at least an hour but up to a couple of days...which suited me fine as I have to do my baking during nap time and that was coming to an end!  So, fast forward about 23 hours:
Switch on the oven to 200 C  or  425 F and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf.  Next, I rolled the larger piece of dough straight from the fridge - no coming to room temperature required. But what is required is plenty of flour on the bench and more on hand to flour the rolling pin often. My pin has those convenient little discs you can slot on the ends to make sure your dough is both even and a pre-determined thickness.  I had the 3mm discs on which I think is 1/8" in imperial.  I also happen to know that the rolling pin is 35cm (14") long so I didn't worry about meauring my 14" round as per the recipe, I just kept rolling until a groove appeared in the edge of the dough - see that horizontal one at the bottom of the photo? You can roll the dough around the pin to lift it into the pie tin, but because it's still cold you can just as easily lift it by hand - as I did.  Now, I have a fabulous pie tin (thank you Mum!) which is in 2 parts.  The inside tin has holes punched in the base and sides, and that sits in an outside tin which is solid all the way round...for the first part of the baking process I used both tins together.
I always manage to put a finger nail through my pie crusts, so with the dough draped over the combined tins I pinched off a bit of the excess and used it to push the rolled out dough against the edges of the tin.  No holes in this one thank you very much...which is really important when you're about to add a liquid filling!  Then I just used kitchen scissors to snip off the excess around the edge.
Next I rolled the smaller piece of dough - again, straight from the fridge - until it was 3mm or 1/4" thick and cut strips with a ravioli wheel.  You can just eyeball the width of each strip, I only used the ruler as a straight edge to cut against. You'll need about 10 strips for a 23cm (9") pie tin.

For the filling:
2 x 700g jars (49 oz total) pitted sour cherries in their own juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 tblspns cornflour
2 tblspns of the cherry juice
Strain the cherries through a sieve and reserve the juice.  Place them in a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well to make sure the cornflour is properly mixed with the juice.  Pile the filling into the prepared pie crust.  Now comes the decorative bit!
Brush the edge of the pie crust with either a little milk or some egg wash - I used milk. Next, take 5 of the pastry strips and lay them vertically over the filling so that each end hangs over the edge of the pie. Press the top of each strip gently but firmly so that it adheres to the pie crust underneath.  Now, lift up the second and fourth strips, carefully folding them back on themselves (as in the left hand photo above). Place a strip of pastry horizontally across the pie - it will lay on top of the first, third and fifth vertical strips - press each end of the horizontal strip to secure it...see my hefty great thumb prints in the photos above! Fold the second and fourth strips back down. Then lift the first, third and fifth strips back on themselves, lay another horizontal strip across the pie and press the ends to secure them.  Repeat until you reach the lower edge of the pie. There you go...a woven lattice.
Trim the excess off around the edge of the pie - either with a knife, or I prefer to use kitchen scissors - then press the edge down with a fork all the way round.  This disguises the joins a bit and makes sure the ends are secured.  Brush the pastry top with milk (or egg wash) and bake for 30 minutes, by which time the top will be nice and brown but the bottom will still be soggy.  Cover the pie with a piece of foil being careful to only cover the top - you still want the sides of the tin exposed to the heat. Now, remember my 2 part tin?  Well, the pastry is 'set' at this point, so I lifted the inner tin out and placed it directly back on the baking sheet in the oven.  The heat gets through the holes in the sides and bottom and allows the crust to crisp up.  Bake again for 20 mins.  Place on a cooling rack and remove the foil.
See that?  That's a pie that worked.  I've made a pie that worked!
And you see the edge of the pie in that picture below?
That's a beautifully laminated pie crust.  It means the water in the butter turned to steam and made airy lttle pockets in the dough as it baked.  It's enough to bring a tear to the eye!

Now here's the comparison: mine on the left, the original pin on the right.  It's possible that I'm having a proud parent moment - you know, where all parents think their child is the most beautiful - but I have to say, I think I did a pretty good job here!
The original recipe says to leave the pie to cool for 3 hours.  Yeah.  Like that was ever going to happen.  I cut a slice purely to take a photo for you, so you could see that it's crispy, flaky, and slightly oozy...just like it should be.  And now, I'm about to have a Proustian moment, I have found my "Temps Perdu" and I didn't even need the Linden Tea. This pin definitely worked, I recommend it to you, and I recommend you find something you've been putting off for a while purely because it seems a bit daunting and just DO IT, you'll feel brilliant!
Now...I have a load of cherry juice left over.  What to do...what to do...Cherrytini, Chergarita?

34 comments:

  1. Holy pie, woman! That looks FANTASTIC. I am jealous of your pie skills. (Not a euphemism.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! And not a waffle iron in sight!

      Delete
  2. Yay for success, pie crust scares the ever lovin' you know what out of me so glad to see someone else figure out it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sooooo happy to have finally made it work!

      Delete
  3. omg that looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow. Awesome lattice weaving. I don't have the patience for that. I usually place a solid top on my pies. If they are lucky, I might cutout a leaf or apple to sit on top.

    I hope it tasted as good as it looks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, this was a real departure for me. I just love the look of the fruit peeking through the gaps!

      Delete
  5. Wowza, that is amazing!!! Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you, I surprised myself too!

      Delete
  6. Yowza, that looks good! I'm bookmarking to see if I can get that to work with GF flour later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that would be great, do you have a GF pastry recipe? I've just started a "free" series (sugar free, egg free, gluten free etc) and I find the GF stuff really hit and miss. I've mixed my own flour from rice flour, coconut flour, potato starch etc. but I'd be really happy to hear about any successful combos you have. Please let me know...and thanks for visiting!

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately, no I don't. I've managed to get some nice muffins and biscuits using the Red Mills All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix, but not much else as of yet. We're still GF babes, having only discovered we have a sensitivity back in October.

      You won the giveaway over at my blog, by the way. Please contact me with your address. http://www.contentedcomfort.com/contact.html

      Delete
  7. Ohmigod, that looks like a KILLER cherry pie... I've always found pie crust to be super-intimidating as well. You've bolstered my confidence to try, and cherries are in season right now where I am....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes me happy! I haven't tried it with fresh cherries but the original recipe uses fresh strawberries so I'm guessing the cooking times would still work. :-)

      Delete
  8. THANK YOU fabulous people, you've made my day!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Love it! I have a lot of pie crust trouble as well, yours looks AMAZING!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love it! I'm terrified of pastry. And terrible at making it. I may need to try again with this recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh excellent. It's a 'Feel The Fear...' experience, the results far outweigh the effort involved and you get that happy high that you conquered something scary!

      Delete
  11. Ooh, that is lovely. I may make that with some jarred strawberries!

    ReplyDelete
  12. That almost looks too pretty to eat! Pie crusts intimidate me, but with this recipe maybe I should try again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought that too...until I cut a piece for the photo...and ate it! Once you taste it, you won't worry about how pretty it is!!

      Delete
  13. Good job! I love pie and the crust is the secret. I learned pie crust years ago but I'm always on the lookout for new tips

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have always been so intimidated by the thought of baking a pie, the thought never crossed my mind. but you make it look sooooo good! Maybe I'll be brave soon....
    Great job on the pie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenn! I made another today just to make sure it wasn't a fluke!

      Delete
  15. Nice lattice!! I can't believe you were worried you couldn't work pastry. That's some fine looking pastry :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously, this is the first time it's worked! Thanks for visiting :-)

      Delete
  16. That pie is gorgeous! Way to go! My lattice work NEVER looks like that. You SHOULD be proud of yourself! Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Eleni. Obviously over confidence has kicked in because my next challenge is croissants!!

      Delete
  17. Omg, your pie looks amazing! I never leave enough dough for proper latticework so I always end up with one ugly pie, haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so funny. I had no idea how much to leave for the top so I guessed at 5/8 for the bottom and 3/8 for the top. But it was all very Much guess work. I think if I'd tried for a solid top I would have run out of dough...so lucky I opted for the top with holes in!!

      Delete
  18. Wait 3 hours??? Pshhhh... That's what a big healthy scoop of ice cream is for!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! A woman after my own heart!

      Delete