Saturday, November 28, 2009
Homemade apple pie. There aren't many desserts more All-American than this one, don't you think? This means of course that, me being me, I had to find a twist to this classic. Luckily, I think I hit the jackpot right off with this recipe for apple pie with dried cherries.
Ever since I made those black forest cupcakes last month, I've harbored a growing fascination for cherries. As luck would have it, Sam at Oh! Nuts (a great online seller of bulk nuts, dried fruits, and more) offered me some free product samples. Before I knew it, a pound of dried sour cherries (plus some nuts I'll tell you about later) rested in my hot little hands. Man, were these good! Juicy and flavorful straight from the resealable package, they plumped up beautifully when baked with juicy apples in pie.
This recipe is so wonderful though that I'm sure any dried cherries or even cranberries would taste great. My personal touch was to add just a splash of cherry brandy to highlight the naturally intoxicating flavor of cherries. It's a little off the beaten path, I realize, but please give this pie a try. Slightly warmed and topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, this was, as my boyfriend put it, "everything I could want in a pie."
P.S. - If any of you has tips for making pie crust by hand/pastry blender, please share them in the comments! Probably due to the shortening, this crust turned out flaky despite my mistakes. But I'd really like to improve my technique.
Apple and Tart Cherry Pie [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 8 to 10
10 to 12 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 to 3 1/4 pounds large Cortland apples (about 6), peeled. quartered, cored, sliced crosswise
3/4 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup cherry preserves
2 teaspoons Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
2 Easy Pastry Dough disks (Recipe below)
1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Stir first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in apples, dried cherries, preserves, and Kirsch.
Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish (I used Pyrex) by folding in half and then in half again, then centering and unfolding it over the pie dish. Make sure the dough closely lines the pie dish. Lift the dough at the edges to adjust it if necessary, but do NOT stretch it or it will shrink back when you bake it. Brush the inside and top edge of the crust with egg glaze. Spoon the filling into the crust.
Roll out the second dough disk on a floured surface to a 13-inch round. Cut out small hole from the center or whatever decorative shape(s) you like (I used heart-shaped aspic cutters). Tranfer this dough the same way as the bottom crust and center it over the filling. Seal the top crust to bottom crust at edge. Trim double crust overhang to about 3/4 inch. Fold under and crimp edge. Brush crust (except edge) with glaze. You can cut additional decorative shapes from re-rolled pie dough trimmings and attach them now if you'd like. Make sure to then brush these with glaze as well.
Place pie on a baking sheet and bake until the apples are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Check the pie at 50 minutes to 1 hour. If it looks to be browning too quickly, cover the top with foil and continue baking. Once out of the oven, cool the pie completely on a rack. This pie can be made 1 day ahead and stored covered at room temperature.
Easy Pastry Dough
Makes 2 crusts
XIAOLU'S NOTE: I stubbornly insisted on making this the old-fashioned way "by hand" using a pastry blender and ran into a few issues of my own making. I'm sure if you follow these directions, it will in fact be an easy dough to make =).
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup frozen vegetable shortening, cut into large pieces
1 large egg
3 tablespoons (about) ice water
Blend first 4 ingredients in a food processor for 10 seconds. Add shortening; process just until very coarse meal forms. Beat egg with 2 tablespoons water; add to processor. Blend until large moist clumps form, adding more water if too dry. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Flatten each piece into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.)