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December 10, 2014

Top Five Cherry Pie

Anytime of year is the right time for cherry pie.  It can be during the blazing heat of summer or a chilly, blustery day and cherry pie just always seems fit fit.  And this one? It's so, so good! It has a top and bottom crust, as it should, but also has two types of cherries: sour pie cherries and dried cherries, both of which are available any time of year. This pie is one of my boyfriend's favorites. This one, he claims, is in the top five of any dessert I've ever made. Now that's saying something!

I made this recipe using my favorite butter crust recipe. It's both easy to make and easy to work with. I can't recommend it enough. I discovered it after making Melissa D'Arrabian's Potato Bacon Torte. (It's to die for!)  I have a little trick that I use with the crust that I think makes all the difference: I freeze my flour! I found that if my butter is super cold and the flour is too, it makes the crust a lot more flaky.
I found this pie pan at in a box of free items at a garage sale a few summers ago. It was sitting there, all sad and lonely begging to be rescued so I did. I have a such an appreciation for vintage pieces like this. Just look at all the scratches and marks it has! Those are badges of honor. Imagine all the pies and ovens this pie pan has seen during its lifetime. The bottom of the pan is marked with its patent number and dates it back to 1940! I just love it. I prefer aluminum pans to glass or earthenware. I just think it makes a better crust.
Before I baked the pie I brushed a little of the cherry baking liquid onto the little pie crust cherries, just for fun. 

Top Five Cherry Pie 
Yield: 8-10 slices (small slices are typical with this type of cake)
Adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

1 cup butter (2 sticks), cubed and super cold
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (chilled in the freezer for 20 min)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 to 10 tablespoons ice cold water

Cherry Filling4 cups sour cherry (frozen or fresh), pitted
+ plus (add one):
1/2 cup of dried cherries, unsweetened if you can find them
- or -
1 cup of Dark Morello Cherries (Trader Joe's has them but double check for pits).
- or -
1 additional cup of sour cherries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (no bottled stuff!)
3/4 cup sugar + a few teaspoons for the top of the crust
1/2 cup light packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground arrowroot starch flour or tapioca starch*
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1.2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters, optional
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt, whisked together)

Put the butter, flour, sugar and salt in the food processor, and pulse lightly just until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly after each spoonful of water. Keep adding water until the dough just begins to gather into larger clumps. Transfer equal amounts of the dough into 2 resealable plastic bags and pat each into a disk. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1hour. Remove 1 of the disks from the bag to a flour coated surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10 or 11-inch round. Gently fit the rolled dough into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan, and refrigerate.

Combine the cherries, lemon juice, both sugars, arrowroot powder, allspice, salt, egg, and bitters in a large bowl and toss well to combine. Mix well and let them mingle for a few minutes on the counter

Take both crusts out of the fridge and roll both of them out about an inch wider than the width of your pie pan. Place one of the crusts into the pie plate, letting the pie crust hang over the edges. Poke holes into the bottom and sides of the crust using a fork.

Fill the pie crust with the cherry mixture, top with the second crust, crimping the edges and cut a few slits on the top to let it breath. Place the pie back into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to set the crust. Meanwhile, position the oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack, and preheat the oven to 425F.

Take the pie out of the fridge and brush it with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the top with some sugar, how much is really your call.

Place the pie on the rimmed backing sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375F, move the pie to the center oven rack and continue to back until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 30 to 35 minutes longer. If you notice that the edges are getting darker faster than the center, pie crust shields to protect the edges or tin foil.

Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Service slightly warm or at room temperature.

*You can substitute corn starch it but will impart a little bit of a gummy texture to your pie. If you have an asian grocery store or an asian isle in your favorite supermarket, look for tapioca starch there. I found a 16 oz bag for $1.15.


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