Let me start by saying this: my favorite thing about cherry pie is its breakfast-y goodness. Cherry pie that is fresh (but not hot) is delicious. Cherry pie that has been in the refrigerator overnight is even better because it's the perfect breakfast food. A little fruit to get you going, a little pastry, perfect with coffee...yumm.
For a while there, I thought this one was an epic fail. I really did. Witness: (oops..apparently I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture of the dough, it seemed that awful.)
I "wondered" in my last blog if I could get the same tasty, flaky results from a pie crust that used less lard. And the answer is most decidedly, yes--but at a price. It's no fault of Alton's. I have enough experience with his recipes (and watching his show) to know that if you follow his directions to the letter, you will get excellent, if not perfect, results. If you fudge, you may meet catastrophe face to face. I won't bore you with the details of why I couldn't follow his crust recipe to the letter. Suffice it to say, I didn't, and catastrophe and I are good friends now. The crust tasted absolutely delicious. So buttery and flaky and light. Didn't have the slight meaty taste that lard alone gives. But it was SO impossible to deal with. It was either too sticky or too crumbly to roll out and move from one place to another. And though it looked lovely in the pan:
it was equally impossible to serve. (And before you say anything, I know that's not what a lattice crust is supposed to look like. I had so much trouble with the last bit of dough, it was all I could cobble together.) Is it worth it? I'm not sure. But it brings up a question, which I put to you: can I combine the two recipes? Can fats replace each other one to one? Can I just replace some of the lard in the Country Pastry recipe with an equal amount of butter? Can I replace the water in Alton's recipe with the mixture of egg/vinegar/water in the Country Pastry recipe? Is it the egg that makes it more pliable?
Fortunately, crust is a somewhat forgiving thing. It can go from being the ugliest looking thing when raw, to being lovely brown and delicious-looking when cooked.
Now, about the filling. Here's the recipe (from a Blue Ribbon Pies book--I think it's out of print, if not, and I'm violating copyright, I'll have to take this down and you'll have to fend for yourself):
Champion Cherry Pie *click here for printable version*
1 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cherry juice (the liquid drained off the canned cherries)
Red food coloring (really? I didn't use it. I guess if you want your pie to be super red you could.)
4 c. pitted, canned cherries (approx. 2 cans)--the tart kind--don't use a can with the word "filling" on it
1 T. butter
1/4 c. cherry juice
3 T. cornstarch
1 T. lime juice
1/4 tsp. almond extract
Combine sugar, salt, 1/4 c. cherry juice and (food coloring) in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil.
Add cherries and butter; bring to a boil again. Boil 2 minutes.
Make a paste (it's actually more like a slurry) of 1/4 c. cherry juice and cornstarch. Add to hot mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Remove from heat. Add lime juice and almond extract. Cool.
Pour cooled filling into pastry. Top with remaining pastry. Flute edges and make slits or cut cherry designs in crust or create lattice top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Note: For Cherry Chocolate Pie, put 1 cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate of your preference) in bottom crust before pouring cherry filling in.
My mother (the pie queen) only uses these cherries for her pies. She has searched high and low at every grocery store for them. FYI, in these parts, they can be found at Dan's Foods:
The filling smells and tastes like...Christmas when Grandma's in town. Really, that's the only way to describe it. mr. is not a fan of anything to do with cherries, always too sweet for him. This isn't. It's a little tart, a little sweet, just delicious. I somehow never knew that there was lime juice in it, but it makes sense to me. I put citrus juice or zest in so many things that don't call for it in the recipe--I think it makes things taste a little more fresh and bright. And my idea to add chocolate in the bottom of the pie--I will humbly call it brilliant!
A couple of things I learned this time around:
- Next time I get the grand idea to make a double-crust pie I need to get mom over here to help/advise me.
- I really do need some crust shields. See?
- I need a second pair of kitchen shears. Sometimes I use the one pair I have to cut open a package of raw chicken, and then I find I need to cut something else in the kitchen that is less raw-chicken-y, but still food-y.
- I dislike my pie pans. I like the look of one of them, but am not happy with the functionality of either. Note to self: start hunting for lovely and useful pie pans.
P.S. Here I am, a stressed out pie novice who finds herself on an afternoon with a bunch of leftover cherry juice and some leftover lime juice. Hmmm. What could a person do with those two things? If you guessed, "add vodka", you guessed right! I think I'll call it a Cherry Pie-tini. Equal parts vodka, tart cherry juice, and lime juice (although Rose's Lime would probably work better than fresh lime juice--it made it almost too tart. Note, I said almost. I still drank it, good vodka never goes to waste around here.) Errmmm...now that I'm drinking it some more, I think it needs more cherry juice. I'll work out the portions next time I make cherry pie, assuming I have more vodka at that point (what is up with only having literally one shot of vodka in the bottle in the freezer, anyway?).