tagged ‘fruit’

Damn fine cherry pie

in Desserts, Taste -

Buttery and crumbly on the outside, juicy, red and perfectly sweet on the inside- a damn summery, damn fine cherry pie indeed!  Damn fine cherry pie

  1. Pies with buttery, sugary crusts bursting with fruity, juicy fillings are amongst the things I most love to make; there is a bit of challenge to them, which is always a good thing, while also welcoming experimentation with so many different ingredients and flavours. Apples and pears are impossible to resist in gloomy, rainy, autumn days and cherries are a gift that keeps on giving in the summer. For this damn fine cherry pie, I have worked with Madame Gâteaux- she is not only amongst the people I most love to be with, she’s also my baking fairy godmother. She’s taught me every decent thing I know about baking- and without cringing even once at my questions, comments and suggestions. Without further ado, here’s her tips and secrets for the best damn fine cherry pie you’ve ever had in your life!

* find the original recipe, inspired by the insanely cool Twin Peaks, here.

Damn fine cherry pie

Tips for Baking an American Pie

  1. The dough

When it comes to pie dough, everyone has their own preferences as to what kind of fat to use. For me, butter gives the fullest flavour and also results in the best shape. When your dough is ready, it is important to chill it for at least 30′ (always wrapped it in cling film, so that it doesn’t absorb any moisture from the fridge). This way, the gluten strands have time to relax, which minimises the shrinking of the dough during baking. The second reason is that you want the dough to get cold, so that it’s easier to roll it out. Also, the butter will firm up and that way it will melt slower in the oven and your pie will hold its shape better.

If your dough it too firm to roll when you take it off the fridge, leave it out for a few mintutes to allow it to come back to room temperature. When you roll out your dough, always sprinkle a little flour on your bench and on your rolling pin. Every time you roll, slide your hand under the dough and turn it around, so that you make sure it won’t stick on the bench. When you’ve rolled it out, wrap it loosely around your rolling pin, instead of picking it up with your fingers, and transfer it safely into the pie dish.

Once the dough is in the pie dish, it is important to make sure it touches on the sides of the dish. You mustn’t press it with your fingers: the easiest way  it to cut a small piece of leftover dough, roll it into a little ball and use it to push the dough around the edges of the dish.

Once you’ve placed your dough in your dish, take your rolling pin (not a knife) and roll it on the surface of the dish to get rid of the excess dough around the rim– and voilà!

Damn fine cherry pie

2. The filling

Taste your fruit! Not all fruit is equally sweet and just because the recipe gives you a sugar amount, it doesn’t mean it is written in stone. If you feel that your cherries are not very sweet, add a bit more sugar.

The most common problem with American style pies, is that because there is no blind baking as with a tart, the moist filling often results in a soggy bottom crust. There are a lot of ways to avoid that. First of all, once you’ve put your dough in the dish, place it in the fridge until your filling is 100% ready. Have your top dough ready to go on the side as well: that way, once you fill and cover the pie, you are ready to start baking it straight away, before the wet filling starts moistening the dough. Secondly, keep an eye on your filling itself: fruit oozes moisture when it bakes, so you need to help it retain it. In this recipe, we use cornflour, to make our filling thicker as it bakes. There are other ways – you can cook the sugar with the cherries, so that the syrup thickens- but this one is faster and simpler.

3. The lattice (which I didn’t do, because I’m lazy and it was too hot)

There are many ways to decorate a classic American fruit pie, but I consider a lattice to be the prettiest, and you can make it as simple or as elaborate as your want. To make a classic criss cross lattice:

Roll out your top dough and cut out 10-12 strands (it’s perfectly ok to use a ruler for this!)

Place all the horizontal strands on the filling. Take the first vertical one and starting from the top of the pie, place it on top of the first horizontal strand, under the second, on top of the third etc, lifting the horizontal strands and repositioning them as you go. It sounds more complicated that it actually is- it is in fact pretty easy when you are actually doing it.

Make an eggwash, by mixing an egg with a little bit of water and brush the top of the pie without missing any spots, otherwise you’ll get discoloration during baking.

Damn fine cherry pie

4. The baking

Always bake in a preheated oven, so that you know exactly what temperature it is when you start baking.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven and remove any other racks or trays from the oven that are taking the heat away from your precious pie!

If your pie starts colouring too fast while baking, cover it loosely with foil and perhaps move it to a lower rack.

If you want a super glossy pie, you can double glaze it with the egg wash. Do that the second you have taken it out of the oven, so that the egg cooks.

Damn fine cherry pie

Damn fine cherry pie

WHAT

for the crust:

250 gr flour

50 gr almond meal

75 gr egg (less than two medium eggs)

75gr sugar

185 gr unsalted butter, at room temperature

zest from 1 lemon

1teaspoon vanilla essence

for the filling:

1kg cherries (I only had 750gr, a mixture of cherries &, and my pie turned out fine)

40gr corn flour

150 gr caster sugar

1 heaping teaspoon almond extract

to finish: 1 egg yolk (or just use the remains of the two you’ve used) & a good sprinkle of demerara sugar (Not in the recipe, but was suggested to me by Calliope in the past and I love it- it gives the crust a beautiful shine and delicious slight crunchiness.)

WHAT

1. Preheat the oven to 180C; combine the flour and almond meal and set aside.

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until soft and fluffy. Add the egg, lemon zest and vanilla extract and the fold in the flour and almond meal. Beat until the mixture comes together and start pulling from the sides of the bowl. Once ready, shape into a ball, wrap well in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30′.

3. Pit the cherries and toss gently with the corn flour, sugar and almond extract. Place on a collander and allow them to release all their juices.

4. After 30′, take the dough out of the fridge and half; place one half back in the fridge and roll out the other in a circle, 3mm thick and big enough to cover boththe base and sides of your pie dish. Place in the fridge while you are rolling out the remaining dough.

5. Roll out the remaining piece of dough either making a lattice pattern (see above, note #3) or simply repear what you did for the bottom half (in which case you will need to score four slits in the middle of your pie).

6. Take the pie dish out of the fridge, add the cherry filling and top with the second piece if dough, in which ever form you’ve chosen.

7. Brush with the egg yolk (or egg) and bake in the preheated over until golden brown- about 45′ (but also check note #4).

8. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least an hour before serving.

 

 

Garam masala, pumpkin seed & dried cherry oatmeal

in Breakfast, Taste -

Fragrant and delicious, this garam masala, pumpkin seed & dried cherry oatmeal will make you reconsider oats for breakfast once and for all.

Garam masala, pumpkin seed & dried cherry oatmeal

In my mind, breakfast is always a little slow and somewhat indulgent; I try to extend this vision to reality as well, as it truly is my favourite meal of the day, regardless of the time I have it (very early, during the week, a little later on the weekends), those I share it with and its contents. There may be eggs or fruit, pastries of a wide variety or toast; it may be just a humble bowl of oats but even then, even in a hurry, even in the gloomy morning light, I try to keep with my little morning rituals and make breakfast somewhat of a feast. [READ MORE]

Toast 3 ways

in Small bites, Taste -

Toast 3 ways

One of the things rarely found in our kitchen is bread. Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE bread, both making and (even more) eating it. The main reason for its absence is simple: bakeries are not the same here as back home. Seriously, Greece seems to have a bakery in almost every corner; each is filled with every type of bread and any sweet and savoury dough-y thing imaginable*, making it very hard to resist and not buy a fragrant loaf or a bag of delicious treats. In additional to that, Mike, who loves treats of any kind (especially the chocolate and peanut butter kind) is quite indifferent when it comes to bread. He never asks for it nor buys it, so it’s easy for me to follow his lead. [READ MORE]

Orange & tangerine Greek semolina cake with pistachios & honey

in Desserts, Taste -

Orange & tangerine Greek semolina cake with pistachios & honey

One of the greatest pleasures I had over the past holidays was spending time with my Zoe. Zoe is one of my closest friends; she is a force of nature, a gorgeous teeny tiny ball of energy, charming and sweet, ballsy and witty. She studied History, she works at LSE and her cooking game is seriously strong. She can ace pretty much any traditional Greek recipe, knows her ingredients, techniques and history and, most impressively for me, she has the most balanced diet of anyone I know. [READ MORE]

Coconut milk, maple & lime quinoa with caramelised pears & toasted hazelnuts

in Breakfast, Taste -

CoconutMilkQuinoa-620-5

It’s been a little over week since I’ve been back and I’m still struggling. I’m not worried though- it’s only part of my usual back-to-school drama, which I live out to the fullest, with frequent outbursts, cursing on the weather, the traffic, the boots and layers I now have to live in and everything else, really. [READ MORE]

Grape spoon dessert

in Desserts, Taste -

GrapeDessert-620-4

Spoon desserts are quite the Greek tradition. They’re also very popular, very sweet and can be made using almost any kind of fruit boiled with sugar and oftentimes added herbs and/or spices. When I was a kid and a teenager I considered them unbearably uncool, boring and tasteless; I mean, it was just cooked fruit in a sugary syrup. There was no texture, no fluffiness, no layers and, most importantly, no chocolate or even butter! I snubbed them and thought I was so right to do so. [READ MORE]

Beet, grape, berry & turmeric smoothie

in Breakfast, Taste -

BeetSmoothie-620-4

I hate Mondays. I hate them with a teenager’s ferocity, passion and stubbornness. The weekend usually seems too short and by Sunday night, I often feel less than ready to face the week ahead.

But Monday comes, always, and with it the promise of a new week and the possibility to make it as pretty and exciting as you please. It is Monday and it is a new week, and it is up to us to make them count, right? And it all starts with a good breakfast. [READ MORE]