My first ever cherry pie results were good, but not great. My son (the cherry lover) was happy. The flavor was well balanced. The red plums gave just enough tartness to the otherwise very sweet Bing cherries. But because I could only use frozen cherries the texture definitely suffered; this would have been best when made in June or July. But the only fault I can find with the filling was that it was much too runny (while hot). Only the next day after sitting in the refrigerator did the filling stay within the pie slice.
However, my biggest failure was messing up Chris Kimball’s latest “foolproof” pie dough recipe (September 2010). The rolling process was an utter disaster. The dough stuck and ripped, even though the counter was heavily floured. It was so bad that I had to start the rolling process again, after allowing the dough to recover for 45 minutes in the refrigerator. The second time, I rolling the dough on wax paper, which was easier to peel in the event of sticking. However, after I read about why he calls it foolproof, I don’t feel quite so bad. Really it should be called “Better Pie Dough”; there is nothing there to make the preparation process foolproof.
The filling texture was firm only when chilled.
First make the pie dough; the foolproof pie dough recipe is here. Add 1-1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar to food processor and pulse for 2 seconds. Add 12 tablespoons chilled butter and 1/2-cup chilled shortening to food processor and process for 15 seconds. Add 1 more cup of flour, and give it 6 more quick pulses. Dump into mixing bowl; sprinkle with 1/4-cup cold vodka and 1/4-cup cold water. Mix with rubber spatula and divide into two equal 4-inch round disks, which are then chilled for 45-minutes before rolling into 12-inch disks.
The filling recipe is here. Process tapioca in coffee grinder (or food processor) for 30 seconds; set aside. Add 1 pound of sweet cherries and 2 red plums in food processor, and run for about 1 minute. Strain and discard solids. The remaining 5 pounds of cherries are simply pitted and cut in half; stir remaining cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, tapioca, and cinnamon into puree; let mixture rest for 15 minutes.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with dough, add filling, and top with second disk. The recipe has instructions for a decorative border, which I tried but ultimately could not make. Add eight 1-inch slits and bake at 400-degrees for 30 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350-degrees and back for another 30 minutes. Let cook for at least 3 hours before slicing.
Result: 3-1/2 stars. The flavor was great. By themselves the Bing cherries would be too sweet, so adding the red plumbs balances off the sweetness without diminishing the strong fruit flavor. On the down side, my cherry pie making skills definitely need some work in order to end up with a nice looking pie.
- My biggest complaint is that the filling was very runny after letting the pie cool for 2 hours. When cutting the filling was all squeezed out by the knife.
- Of course, the most embarrassing recipe that I could mess up is something with “foolproof” in the title. When I floured the counter, I spread the 1/4 cup of flour over too wide of an area. As the pie crust widened during rolling, the initial amount of flour under the dough was spread too thin. Next time I’ll be sure to put the entire 1/4-cup only under the initial disk of dough, not in a 12-inch circle on the counter. Plus, I’m going to start out rolling on wax paper; it’s much more forgiving.
- By the time I tried to add the decorative seal, the dough had to much surface flour and wouldn’t stick to itself. I ended up rolling the top and bottom crust together; ugly but 90% effective. It did come apart in a few places and oozed out. Good thing I baked it on a sheet pan to catch any spillage.
- The instructions simply call for “2 red plums, halved and pitted”. But I now know that it is impossible to halve and pit a plum. I mushed up the plum too much trying. You are better to just cut it into 8 pieces to remove the pit.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 1:30 PM. Dessert time: 8:00 PM. (an extra hour for my pie dough problems)
Not a work of art, but enough to make my son happy.