Tuesday, June 17, 2008

opera & bake sales

OK, the pie! It's great! Maybe I overdid it with the tapioca--it's a little jellylike, not gooey-juicy the way I really like. But the fruit tastes great, and the lattice crust is cute as a button, even without the little $5 pinking-wheel roller that cuts your pastry into neat serrated strips. This is a state-fair pie, no doubt about it. Going over to Jen's for tea and pie later, and pix will follow.

[2 hours later....Ooops. Well, there was tea, and Jen's daughter was there, and before you know it, most of the pie was gone. So no pictures, alas, but maybe I'll make another one for the O.O.O. (see below)on Saturday...]

What else can you do this weekend, besides bake pie? (Yes, Hooverville Orchards will have more sour cherries at the Alemany Market. I bought about 2 lbs, which seemed just right for my pie pan.) You can come up to Bernal on Sat. morning for the Obernal Obakesale Obama, Move On.org's little sweet-treat fest, starting at 10am. Sign up here if you wanna bake or work; otherwise, just come and buy. I'll probably be there, forcing people to choose (again!) between brownies and blondies.

Go out to AT&T Park (yes, the baseball stadium) and see a live simulcast of SF Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor, on Friday evening. A mad scene, at third base! Opera and hot dogs! Actually, Peter Meehan, who does the $25 and Under column for the NY Times, recently got the prime gig of visiting dozens of ballparks to eat their food. Our fair city got top billing, thanks to a super Dungeness-crab panini, eaten by Meehan's ladyfriend with a split of champagne. He, having guyness to uphold, had an Anchor Steam, and the other half of her sandwich.

Or, just eat cherries!

State Fair Cherry Pie
You don't need a cherry pitter for this pie, since sour cherries are soft and squishy enough so that you can just pop the pits out between your thumb and forefinger. You do, however, need real sour pie cherries, a completely different animal than sweet cherries. In general, sour cherries are small and juicy, with a clear pale red skin and a yellow-to-translucent flesh. If you've ever had cherry pie, even diner pie, you know what they taste like. The advantage of making your own pie is, of course, that you can keep the sugar and gel to a minimum, so that you actually taste real fruit, not just goo. Perfect with vanilla ice cream. Also, I've reduced the amount of tapioca from the original 1/4 cup I used, so this should be just right.

Crust
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
14 tbsp (1 stick + 6 tb, or 7 oz) butter, chilled
5-7 tbsp ice water

Filling
2 lbs sour cherries (the weight is before they're pitted)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp granulated or instant tapioca (like Minute brand, in the red box--look for in the baking aisle, or next to the Jell-O)
1/2 tsp almond extract or 1 tbsp Amaretto
pinch of cinnamon

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter, rubbing bits between your thumb and fingertips until you have lots of flat nickel-sized bits. Keep tossing the flour as you rub to keep the whole mix nice and light. Remember, light touch=light pastry. Once it looks like dry oatmeal flakes, drizzle in the water. Lightly stir with a fork or a chopstick, adding more as needed, until you can squeeze together a handful. Pat into two rounds, wrap in plastic or pop into a ziploc bag and chill for at least an hour.

Pit your cherries and mix with tapioca, sugar, almond extract and cinnamon. Set aside (a nice 10 minute soak will help the tapioca to start dissolving.)
Roll out your pie crust, line the pan (a 9" pan works well), and pop the pan back into the fridge while you roll out the second crust. Cut second round into even strips.

Preheat oven to 425F. Take your bottom crust out of the fridge, pour the cherry mixture (including juice) into the crust. Now, the fun part! Just like peanut-butter cookies must have that criss-cross fork pattern on top, cherry pie must have a lattice. (Makes sense, since cherries are juicy and the lattice helps with the evaporation so you have pie, not soup.)

Lay the longest strips in a cross over the middle of the pie. Now take another strip and lay it next to the first one, lifting the crossing strip so that it's the opposite--either under or over, depending. Keep doing this, lifting strips as necessary, so that you get a "weave" effect--one strip over, one strip under, etc. Now press the edges together around the outside and flute nicely. OK, I promise I'll do explanatory pix on the next go-round, since it's MUCH easier to show than tell. Brush with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 2 tsp water) if you want to get shiny and fancy.

Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, then turn down heat to 375F. Bake another 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and juices are thick and bubbly (good to put a baking sheet underneath,to prevent smoking juices on the oven floor.). Cool on a rack for several hours so that pie juices can congeal properly. But do eat the day it's baked for optimum crust-crispness.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Cherry pie is my favorite!