Friday, August 20, 2010
Can she bake a cherry pie?
The answer is yes. Definitively yes. Will it be a good pie? The answer is sometimes. Sometimes it will be good and sometimes it will not be so good.
Yesterday we harvested Montmorency pie cherries from the tree that I planted many years ago. Probably about 15 years ago, thought it's hard to believe. We harvested what we thought was enough for 2 pies, but once pitted turned out to be enough for one real pie and a baby pie.
I made the usual pate brisee crust with the ingredient list you sent me, and then had to ad lib the pie part bc I forgot to ask you to send those ingredients and my copy of Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts is in Seattle. Besides Martha uses flour to thicken her cherry pie and I don't like the raw flour taste, so I was happy to experiment.
I added 1 and a half cups of sugar, 1 and a half T of cornstarch, a squeeze of lemon (possibly too much in hind sight) to enough cherries to fill a large Emile Henry ceramic pie plate. Tossed it all together, into the crust, sealed it up, and realized I'd forgotten to dot with butter. Considered stuffing chunks of frozen butter through the vent holes but rejected the idea, mostly out of laziness mixed with a tinge of vanity over the perfection of the crust and its current vent holes.
I know you'll say I'm my own worst critic, but the pie was very runny and a bit tart. I think more sugar and definitely more cornstarch. Also, could the butter help it to set up? I think the butter would have added a richness that would have counteracted the tartness and maybe helped me to get away with less sugar.
Everyone ate it up, and there were no complaints. A did say that the last one I made (when I had the recipe) was better.
Lessons learned - put in the butter even if it messes up the pristine crust, cherries that are really ripe have a lot of juice so go heavy on the thickener (come to think of it, they'd be a great candidate for tapioca at thickener since it takes a lot of liquid to dissolve the pearls), pie cherries are tart so use plenty of sugar, juice of half a lemon is excessive.
I'm taking your advice and making peach crisp tonight so I'll let you know how it goes.