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Friday, October 7, 2011

Lattice-Top Cherry Pie

I am a bit behind posting this one.  I made it this summer, after we went sour cherry picking.  Because believe me, and this is a lesson you only need learn once, sweet cherries like Bing and Ranier are no good in pies - they lose color, flavor and structure and all you end up with is a bland pie in a good crust you spent a lot of time on.

But if you want to make this delectably delicious cherry pie out of cherry season, like say for Thanksgiving, you still have options: jarred Morello cherries (I know Trader Joe's carries them, not sure where else) OR Oregon Fruit canned tart cherries.  Cook's Illustrated says both are great in this pie.

And.  How have we gone two paragraphs without discussing the lattice?  Eh?  You like?  That is one trusty, crusty, pretty top, and it's easier to make than you'd think.  (See instructions below.)

I can't tell you how happy and proud I am when I have a pie success.  They are still grossly outnumbered by disasters, but bit by bit there is improvement.  I didn't even like cherry pie before I made this, any cherry pie.  Because there are so many bad ones.  But this one is a bright, sweet-tart pastry delight.  Maybe I'll just go make another.
Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie (print recipe)
3 cups (15 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 T sugar
7 T vegetable shortening, chilled
10 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
10 T ice water

1.  Process the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined.  Add the shortening and preocess untiil the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds.  Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture; cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is a pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses.  Turn the mixture into a medium bowl. 

2.  Sprinkle 8-9 T ice water over the mixture.  With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix.  Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 2 T more ice water if the dough will not come together.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other (if possible, weigh them; they should weigh 16 ounces and 14 ounces.)  Flatten the larger piece into a rough 5-inch square and the smaller piece into a 4-inch disk; wrap separately in plastic and chill 1 hour.

Lattice-Top Cherry Pie (print recipe)

1 recipe Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie
Flour for dusting work surface
1/4 cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
1 to 1 1/4 cups plus 1 T sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3 (24-ounce) jars Morello cherries, drained (about 6 cups), or fresh or canned sour cherries, pitted and drained
1/4 tsp almond extract

1.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.)  Roll the larger piece of dough to a 15 by 11-inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick; transfer the dough rectangle to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  With a pizza wheel, fluted pastry wheel, or paring knife, trim the long sides of the rectangle to make them straight, then cut the rectangle lengthwise into 8 strips, 15 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide.  Freeze the strips on the baking sheet until firm, about 30 minutes.   
2.  Roll the smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to a 12-inch circle.  Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling the dough around a rolling pin and unrolling over the pan.  Working around the circumference of the pan, ease the dough into the pan corners by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the pan bottom with the other hand.  Leave the dough that overhangs the lip of the pie plate in place; refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate.
3.  Remove the dough strips from the freezer; if they are too stiff to be workable, let stand at room temperature until malleable and softened slightly but still very cold.  Following the illustrations below, form the lattice top and place in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
To make the lattice, lay out 4 strips of dough on parchment paper.  Fold the first and third strips back, then place a long strip of dough slightly to the right of the center as shown.
Unfold the first and third strips over the perpendicular strip and fold the second and fourth strips back.  Add a second perpendicular strip.  Now unfold the second and fourth strips.
Repeat this process with 2 more perpendicular strips (you will have a total of 8 strips of dough, 4 running in each direction).  Freeze the finished lattice until very firm and then slide it over the filling.
(See step 6)  Trim off the excess lattice ends, fold the rim of the shell up over the lattice strips and crimp.
4.  Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on it, and heat the oven to 500 degrees.

5.  Mix together the cornstarch, 1 to 1 1/4 cups sugar (taste fruit and adjust amount as desired), cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in the cherries and almond extract.

6.  Turn the cherry mixture into the dough-lined pie plate.  Remove the lattice from the freezer and place on top of the filled pie.  Trim the lattice strips and crimp the pie edges.  Lightly brush or spray the lattice top with 1 T water and sprinkle with the remaining 1 T sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have it.)
7.  Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake until the crust is set and begins to brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Rotate the pie and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue baking until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble, 25 to 30 minutes longer.  Cool the pie on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving.
 Recipe from Baking Illustrated: The Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker
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