the goods2 lb fresh sour cherries
1 lb flour
1 lb unsalted butter
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tspn salt
1/2 cup half and half or light cream
2 1/2 tblspns corn starch
4 tblspns Amaretto
time: 60 mins active, 2 hrs total
you will need:
Once a Year Sour Cherry Pie
I rarely make pastry. It seems a bother and I know that's it's Cholesterol Code Red.
I hate lighting the oven in the middle of Summer. The house just never seems to cool down afterward.
But the sight of ripe sour cherries sitting in the market on Sunday morning set my mind down a dangerous path; 'Their season is so short. You hardly ever see them. They are so good in a pie...'
And so I came home, rolled up my sleeves, threw together a rough and tumble puff pastry and set to hulling the cherries.
One. By. One.
I've broken a tooth on a pip before; I know the trouble it can lead to. So I meticulously set to slicing each cherry with a paring knife, separating the pip, capturing the juice and flesh and staining my fingers a vampy hue in the process.
This is the best pie I have ever made. It might have something to do with Dolly Parton singing away in the background as I mindlessly pitted the cherries.
Mound the flour, salt and 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar on a working surface. The butter quantity is 4 sticks. slice each stick into quarters and add to the flour. Using the flat of your palms, run your hands through the flour and butter and smear it away from your body, scrape it all up back into a mound and repeat this smearing motion until there are still lumps of butter, but the overall texture is like damp sand.
Mix the half and half and the egg yolk. Beat lightly and pour about a 1/3 cup into the mounded flour mixture. Pat everything together. You might need a little more cream or a little more flour. The pastry will be on the softer side.
Slap it into a rectangle, flour it lightly and roll it out to a 10"x6" length. Fold the top third over, as you would a letter, brush off any loose flour, then fold the bottom third up, again, as you would a letter. Seal the edges lightly and turn the pastry a quarter turn. Roll out again and repeat this process about 4 times. If the pastry gets sticky, you can pop it into the freezer for 10 minutes to gather its wits. When you are done rolling, pat it back into a rectangle, say 8"x6" and wrap it in cling film. Let it sit in the fridge.
Pit the cherries, trying to keep as much juice as possible with the flesh. Discard the pips. Mix the corn starch and Amaretto into a paste and pour over the cherries. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar over the cherries and give the bowl a bit of a toss to mix everything.
Halve the pastry. Roll one half out to cover your pie dish. I used a rectangular baking dish, lined with baking parchment. The pastry is a little soft so if you don't mind a little patchwork, it might be quicker to push and smooth it into the pan. Mix an egg white and, using your fingers, just brush it over the surface of the pie shell. Pour the cherries and their juice into the dish. Roll out the other half of pastry and cover the cherries. Prick the pastry a few times and use a fork to seal the pastry at the edges, brush it with any remaining cream / yolk mix. Bake in a pre-heated hot (425f) oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar whilst still oven hot and allow to cool.