Late night pie happens like this: come home from the cherry orchard as the sun begins its slow descent. Wonder, how will we eat six pounds of cherries? Think: pie! Proceed to look for a cherry pitter, come up with fingers. Settle for a piping tip.
Painstakingly pit and stem three pounds of cherries. Turn 1/4 of the kitchen into a scene reminiscent of a battlefield- are you bleeding? no, that’s just cherry juice- and hope the stains come out of your shirt. (Unlikely.)
Make pie dough. Rub long sheets of cold butter into flour, inhale the tangy scent of vinegar. Scrape it off your fingers, shove it into the freezer.
Take a break! You deserve it. Eat some cherries. They are very, very good. Remember the pitted cherries in the bowl. Scrape out a vanilla bean, think how the seeds look like tiny stars, if stars were black. Add sugar, lemon and let it sit tight.
Dinnertime. It’s almost dark out. Feel the pie-dough. Nope, still not cold enough. Wait some more, maybe take a nap.
Now it’s dark out. Completely. How has it gotten so late? No matter. Take the dough out- it’s perfect. Roll it out, get flour everywhere. Feels nice and pliable, very cold. The streaks of butter are visible in the dough. Press it into the plate, and pour in the cherries; they waited patiently and now they’re sweet and juicy. Rush it into the freezer. Roll out the second dough. Cut strips for a lattice. Uh-oh, they’re starting to stick to the table! Take the filled pie shell out, do the quickest lattice ever. Brush it with egg, so much sugar, send it into a very hot oven. Now, wait. Catch up on the news. Clean up.
Mmm, something smells good. Take the pie out. It’s bronzed and bubbling with juice. To wait or not to wait? Of course, not to wait! Cut a hot piece. The clock reads almost exactly 11:30 PM. Who cares? Dig in! Woah, that’s good. That’s good pie.
Now it’s bedtime. Sweet pie dreams follow.
Yield: one 9″ pie, serving 8-10
Why I love this recipe: sugar and vanilla bring out the sweetness of sour cherries and lemon juice ensures that their tartness doesn’t get lost. The pie crust is flaky, thanks to frozen butter and vinegar, and bakes up sturdy, due to a bake at high temperatures on the lowest rack.
Notes: be sure to let the pie cool for a good amount of hours (3-4, at least) in order to cut neat slices. If your cherries are very sour or sweeter than usual, you may want to adjust the amount of sugar. I found one cup was plenty, but I do like my fruit pies tart. Go according to personal preference.
For the pie crust:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 sticks butter, one frozen, one cold
- 6 oz. ice cold water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
For the pie filling:
- 6 cups sour cherries, stemmed and pitted
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 1 scant cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers to cut in the stick of cold butter until it is the size of peas. Then cut in the frozen butter, leaving it in bigger, visible pieces.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix the water into the flour until just combined.
- If the dough seems dry, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. Press the dough together, split it in half, form into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough overnight, or freeze for at least one hour.
- Combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla bean caviar (seeds). Let sit while you roll out the dough.
- Remove your dough from the freezer or fridge. Then, working gently, roll out one disk of dough into a 12″ circle on a floured surface. Trim the edges.
- Transfer dough to pie plate. Fill it with fruit.
- Roll out the second disk and cut into strips. Lattice it on top of the pie.
- Crimp edges, or simply fold under. Brush with egg and water and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar.
- Bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of the oven. Lower heat to 400 and bake for another 45-50 minutes, until the top is browned and the juices have thickened and are bubbling.
- Let cool for two hours. Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream.