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Cherry Cherry Cherry Pie & How to Trick Out Store Crust

Cherry Cherry Cherry Pie & How to Trick Out Store Crust

Nothing says summer like a fruit pie, especially cherry pie, warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.  But for me there is one not so tiny problem.  The 425oF oven.  It’s impossible to get around that aspect of summer pies, biscuits and shortcakes.  But what you can do is get in and out as quickly as possible and I have a couple secret weapons that let you trick out store bought dough, pass it off as your own, and get back to the beach. Who doesn’t love that?  Face it – while home-made crust is a fabulous nod to bygone days and an awesome salute to Gramma, with our 2016 lifestyle and in the dog days of summer, it’s a crime against the calendar.  I hereby give you my permission to do this fast fix.

While the crust hacks are my own, this pie recipe is inspired by one of the late Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts.  This book is one of my very few must haves and has to be one of the best baking reference books ever written… at least for home-style desserts which are not only my personal favorites, but also the style at New World Grill where I did most of the baking.  I am super excited to find out that it is no longer out of print!  For years it was only available used, but it has been reprinted and is here for the taking!  Not just pies, but cobblers, puddings, dumplings, cakes, tarts, custards, frozen treats and more.  Run! Run! Run!

One of the tricky things about fruit pies is how much thickening – usually cornstarch or tapioca – is enough but not too much.  There are no easy answers here.  It depends on the water content of the fruit, the ripeness, pectin etc.  This generally is not a problem with fall fruits like apples, quince, figs, or pears.   Food52 had a recent post on “the fickle mistress” of the pie world – fresh fruit.  Their suggestions are a lot more time consuming than what I suggest here, but they are also more predictable.  I would NOT follow my recipe if you were trying to use super high water-content fruit like raspberries or blackberries. They are …..like 87% water, 12% seeds and 1% fruit. (Source: my vivid imagination).  Not good contenders. But this would work super well with peaches and a sprinkling of blueberries.  Or cherries as I suggest here.  Keep it to fruit with sturdy flesh and you will be fine.

Sweet and Tart Cherries

I can’t think of cherry pie without thinking of my Grandmother who was often perched on the piano bench belting out a round of Can She Make a Cherry Pie, Billy Boy Billy Boy.  No?? Nobody??  We didn’t actually grow up on cherry pies as a summer staple, but my Dad loved him some bings and spending time in Michigan during the summers, they were and are plentiful.  Traverse City has an annual festival dedicated to cherries with races through the orchards, pie eating and pit spitting.  The airport is Cherry Capital Airport.   Fly right over the Leelanau Peninsula mid-summer and you will be amazed by the vision in bright red.  For this pie, I used a combo of those pretty bright red tarts, along with sweet dark cherries and whites.  Whenever I get them, I pit them immediately and freeze by color in ziplocks.

Tarts on the Tree

Now on to the inside secrets on how to trick out a ready-made crust and pass it as your own.  These tricks work best for the pre-made dough that comes rolled up and is found in the dairy case, possibly sporting a chubby white guy with a chef toque.   Some of these tips will help you jazz it up and some will help rid you of a soggy bottom. Nobody likes that!

Secrets for success:

  • Oven should be hot; pastry should be cold. Always 425oF for crusts.
  • Heat a pizza stone while you preheat.
  • Use a glass pie plate and butter it well.
  • Brush egg white on the inside of the raw bottom crust once you’ve laid it in the pie plate. Back to the fridge til its time to use this.
  • Brush the top crust with cream or half & half. Sprinkle with sugar
  • Lay a sheet of foil loosely on the top for the first 15 minutes of baking to help the fruit temperature rise more quickly.
  • Use a foil-lined (for the mess) sheet pan (to protect the glass on the pizza stone) under the pie.
  • Get the best vanilla ice cream – no point in cutting corners here!

Ooey Gooey Cherry Pie

Double Crust Three Cherry  Pie

  • Dough for a double crust pie
  • 6-7 cups of cherries, pitted (I like a combo of sweet and tart. If frozen, do not thaw)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (wonderful flavor for both cherries and peaches)

Three Cherry Pie

Secret Weapons:

  • Butter
  • 1 egg white
  • Splash of half & half or cream
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Glass pie plate, Pizza Stone & sheet pan
  • Foil

Preheat the oven to 425oF with a pizza stone placed on a rack in the bottom third of the oven.  Butter a 9 1/2” deep dish glass pie plate.

Rollout (or unfold) dough for the bottom crust.  Fit into the pie plate, leaving any overhang.   Brush the inside of the crust with enough egg white to coat.  Roll out the top crust. Refrigerate both crusts until you are ready to use them.

Combine the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and almond extract.

Remove the top crust from the refrigerator and cut into 3/4” wide strips.

Remove the bottom crust from the refrigerator and fill with the cherries.  If any sugar mixture has settled in the bowl, sprinkle evenly on top of the cherries.   Brush the outside edge of the crust with the remaining egg white and lay half the strips evenly across the top in one direction.  Weave the remaining strips cross-wise ”pot-holder  style”.  Press the ends into the bottom crust around the outer edge and trim excess.  Flute or crimp the edges.

Dot the top of the pie with butter, brush the lattice with cream and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar.

Lay a piece of foil on top of the pie (not tightly wrapped and not tented). This will help the fruit heat up faster and keep the crust from starting to brown too quickly.  Place the pie on a foil-lined sheet pan and set on the pizza stone.   After 15 minutes, remove the top foil.  Continue baking until the crust is golden and the fruit is thickened and bubbly.   Keep an eye on the crust color and cover outside edge with foil cut into a ring or entirely, as needed to slow down the crust color while the fruit thickens.   This will take about an additional 45 -50 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool thoroughly on a wire rack to thicken up completely.  Cut it too early and you have a juice bomb.  If you want to serve it warm, reheat it at serving time.

Serves 8 – 10

cherry pie a la mode

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© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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Giving Thanks and Giving Back: Cupcakes for a Cause

Giving Thanks and Giving Back: Cupcakes for a Cause

It’s been a couple of a weeks and I’m still not sure which was cuter – the cupcakes or the girls making them. I had the rare opportunity to visit the monthly meeting of the minds of Team ChloElla J, a band of merry thirteen year-olds (Juliette is now 14) who gather together for their scheduled session to pay it forward. Palate, Passion, AND Purpose are alive and well in this latest generation. I caught them during fall break and a day off from school. But sometimes they bake on the weekends, and sometimes until very late at night…..and once in while, ”too late” at night. Based on all the energy and effort that goes into this, you would expect a feast at the end. And while there is no doubt a feast somewhere, the feast is not theirs. They don’t bake for themselves.

Chloe, Ellary and Juliette have been friends since childhood, and, earlier this year, the girls saw an opportunity at church fundraisers (that’s right – fundraisers, plural – they go to three different churches) to auction off Cupcakes of the Month for charity. They sold the year-long 6 seasonally-themed cupcake package an amazing five times between them. Each church had different goals and the monies raised support mission work, a youth mission trip and “general churchy stuff”. She had me at “churchy stuff”. Adorable, indeed!

While the leadership is clearly shared, with hosting and shopping scheduled on a rotating basis, I had my eye on Ella. Ella is not new to paying it forward. A whole two plus years ago, at the tender age of 11, she raised $5,000 for her Let’s SHAKE Parkinson’s campaign by running a 5k. At that age, I was just trying to figure out how to pass the President’s Fitness test, never mind run 5k. Sit-ups were my strong suit. Running and the softball throw, not so much.

Let's SHAKE Parkinson's

And while I was likely still dabbling in all things Easy Bake Oven at 13 (Okay, probably not at 13, but it was the 60s and things moved a whole lot more slowly), these girls each have full professional toolkits. One has adapted a manicurist’s tackle box, replacing nail color with icing tints. Another has a Cricut Explore Air, an electronic cutting machine that precisely cuts – with embedded bluetooth for wireless cutting, of course – labels for the packaging. And the pastry tip collection between the three is unparalleled. Wowza! Impressive.

Getting the right gearThe girls FaceTime each month to get a theme. Pinterest, magazines, and baking websites provide inspiration.  I connected as Thanksgiving was being designed and created. They finally settled on turkey legs, mashed potatoes with gravy and two pies – one latticed-topped fruit and one pumpkin. Each customer gets six – so two legs, two mash, two pies.

For this holiday, the cupcakes were made from scratch – a delicious apple cinnamon batter. When I arrived, they were already cooling, and the girls were making the icing – one base, tinted as needed for the berry pie, pumpkin pie, or au natural for the turkey and mashed potatoes. And the music was jamming. Much like a professional kitchen, there was little chatter. Each girl was focused on her task at hand and looked up only to ask an opinion or show off a masterpiece.

Chloe, Ellary, and JulietteJuliette was working on mashed potatoes with a caramel gravy. Much like the real thing, the “potatoes” were piled high, a well was made, and “gravy” poured. Unlike the real thing, there was some tricky timing to get the caramel hot enough to pour well, but not so hot as to melt the “potatoes”. She poured with a deft hand.

Mashed Taters, Cupcake Style

Ella was busy creating the turkey drumsticks. She had already made a white chocolate “bone” to extend from the meaty part of the leg, and she created roast turkey “skin” by sprinkling with graham cracker crumbs.
Turkey Leg Cupcakes

That left Chloe to tackle the pies.  She needed fondant for the lattice crust and the pumpkin pie trim. And of course, she makes her own – stretching and rolling a marshmallow fondant to keep the sugar pliable, yielding a dough-like consistency.

Rolling, Stretching, TrimmingOnce the fondant is rolled, Chloe cuts it in thin strips and weaves it together just like a lattice topped pie. But no further baking required – she has used her marshmallow fondant.  For the pumpkin pie, she uses two cutters – the larger one fluted and one slightly smaller that is not. It was impressive to see that each girl had her own technique to fulfill her vision. Crumbs, fondant, caramel: each used in a unique way.

Plenty of PiesIt’s clear they enjoy what they are doing. And they have learned a lot. They have gone from basic to “pretty cool”. I’ll add a “very cool” of my own. Watching the camaraderie and flashes of pure joy was inspiring. Knowing that they are supporting their community is heart-melting. You can’t help but know for sure that despite their small town experience, they have a global perspective. They expand their own horizons every time they turn on the oven.

And when they are done, they dance.

Wishing these girls, their families, and you a joyous and food-filled Thanksgiving.

 

From the ChloElla J portfolio – now taking orders!

Teddy's on the Beach, On theGrilll, and Spooky Halloween August: Teddies at the Beach;  Burgers on the Grill for “Uncle Dan’s” birthday; October: Six Spooky Designs

Back to School, Minions, and S'moresSeptember: Back to School Apple for the Teacher; Custom order: Minions; and my personal favorite for a youth group outing: S’mores with tootsie roll logs and hard candy flames.

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2015. All rights reserved.

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Don’t forget to Comment below, Share & Subscribe to our blog.