Friday, January 28, 2011

The One that started it all...

Growing up in a culinary house, I was a little intimidated by my parents' abilities in the kitchen. When a throw together meal on a Sunday afternoon is Shrimp Risotto and middle of the week breakfasts were homemade french toast, Belgian waffles, and pancakes, it's easy to see where I felt I may not be able to duplicate the system! But like anything, I believe we all start somewhere. This was my beginning, the initial step into my cooking world which has had many turns, stops, re directions, and even a few successes in the last 10 years. Before I was anything else, I was a baker.

Austin's Cherry Pie
foundations from Williams-Sonoma & my Mother

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For your crust (you can and must make your own crust, it's simple and it's the KEY to a fabulous pie)- these ingredients yield a double pie crust

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup COLD unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (pea-small grape size)
  • 6 tablespoons cold water (varies from time to time)

In a stand mixer (My Grandma, the unequivocal baker extraordinaire, disagrees with me on this technique because she thinks it makes your crust "tough". I adore her, want to be like her, and think she is basically omnipotent, but on this I cannot concur. Your crust, if following this recipe, will come out crumbly and delicious like a shortbread cookie.) mix all ingredients except the water. When mixture is consistency of coarse cornmeal, begin adding your water. 1 tablespoon at a time until it BARELY begins to pull together. When the dough begins to pull together, remove from mixer bowl and separate into two balls. You can throw these in parchment paper and stick them if the fridge if you need to but it's not necessary. Flour your work surface, I use a plastic flexible cutting board so I can flip the dough into the pie pan, and rolling pin. Roll out your bottom crust and place in the pie plate. Roll out your second dough ball. If you are making a lattice crust, which is so gorgeous you won't even believe it, cut your strips now. Experiment here with width for the lattice top, every pie has its own little personality. If simply using a top crust, leave rolled out dough on the side while making the filling.

For your filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (3 15oz cans) drained jarred pitted sour cherries. These are often found with the canned fruit, not on the baking aisle. They should be packed in water. NEVER syrup.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Place cherries in bowl, add remaining ingredients and stir gently as to avoid breaking cherries. The cherries will have enough liquid in them to produce a nice juice for your pie. Pour cherry mixture into pie pan. Top with lattice or double crust top and flute the edges to your liking. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking 40-50 minutes longer, until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.

Serve warm, serve cold, serve however you love it. Topped with your favorite vanilla ice cream is Mr G's most cherished treat. And any day that starts with a breakfast of leftover cherry pie is a good one.

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