Sunday, February 08, 2015
Every year at Christmas time one of the gifts we look forward to are the cherries from Michigan. One of my sisters lives near Traverse City, Michigan, which is cherry country with a capital C. She often sends us dried cherries and they usually are eaten before the tree gets taken down. Last year I hid some for baking because they are excellent in baked goods. Yesterday I had to use some from the store since the Michigan cherries are all gone, but I was thinking of her as I baked this slab pie and wishing she was here to have a slice. I also wished I had Michigan cherries, but had to settle for Montmorency cherries canned in a jar (from Wisconsin I think).
This pie is a variation of one I found in XX. The original recipe was for apple pie, but Sweetie isn't a huge fan of apples, plus I had a yen for cherries. This would make an excellent Valentine's Day dessert. It looks like it feeds a crowd, but is really about six slices long. I'm pretty sure that you could cut it into 4 huge slices if you needed to. We shared it with our dinner partners last night and it served the four of us with medium slices, plus a couple left over for their breakfast. We were treated to an excellent Middle Eastern feast by the KitchenThink kitchen designer whom we love, so it was great that she loved this slab cherry pie, too.
The challenge for me with this recipe was to make a filling to replace the apple filling. I used another recipe in the book, for regular cherry pie, but added extra thickener and used fewer cherries. Because I was using canned cherries, I also included some dried tart cherries which I marinated in Amaretto liquor since almonds and cherries are a great combo. I also added about a teaspoon grated Meyer lemon zest to the Meyer lemon juice for some zing since canned cherries can be a bit bland. It all worked out well. The filling was thick enough for a slab pie, it was flavorful and had just a bit of tang. I know I'll make it again soon.
The crust was the one called for in the book, a all-butter pie crust that you can make in the food processor. It is very similar to the Martha Stewart one, but was even better and very flaky. I did increase the ice water to 1/4 cup. The mixture still looked like crumbs at that point, but it did hold together when squeezed. When I wrapped it up in plastic, I kneaded it together just a bit, then shaped it into a rectangle. Not sure if it is important, but I chilled the flour in the freezer and put the small cubes of butter there, too. The water was very cold. I think that having such cold ingredients and not overworking the dough helped with making it flaky.
Another change was that I painted the edges that became sealed together with the egg wash before folding the dough over. The recipe called for water, but I had the egg wash ready to go, so I used it. The filling that came out did so from a vet not the edges, so it worked to keep those edges really sealed. I also left the salt out of the egg wash. There was so much sparkling sugar on top that it really wasn't missed.
Cherry Slab Pie
a variation of Apple Slab Pie in The Culinary Institute of America's Pies and Tarts book
Makes on 5 x 15 inch slab pie
(about 6 servings)
One All-Butter Pie Dough (recipe below) formed into in rectangular disc
3-4 cups canned or frozen tart cherries, drained...reserve 1/4 cup juice
1/2 cup dried tart cherries in a small bowl with enough Amaretto to cover tehm
1/3 cup cornstarch (I used 1/2 cup tapioca starch, which worked well)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, grated fine
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Egg Wash of 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water
Sanding sugar (or granulated sugar) for the top of the pie
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Make sure the pie dough is chilling in the fridge. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the reserved 1/4 cup cherry juice, the cornstarch or tapioca starch and whisk together with a small whisk or a fork. Set aside.
Drain the dried cherries. The liquid can be used for other purposes (like sipping)
In a medium saucepan, combine the drained cherries, lemon juice and zest, sugar, salt and drained dried cherries. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, and simmer, stirring, for 10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pan to the stove top and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook for 3-5 minutes, until clear and thickened. Mixture will thicken more as it cools. That is fine. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 30 - 45 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.
Dust a 13" x 18" sheet of parchment paper lightly with flour. On it roll out the chilled dough to 1/8 inch thick. Using a pastry wheel, trim the dough to 10 inches by 15 inches. If dough is at all soft refrigerate by placing the parchment on a baking sheet and putting the whole thing in the fridge.
On chilled rectangle of dough, spread the cherry filling on one half, along the long side, leaving a 1/2 inch border on three sides. If needed, press gently on filling with a spatula to eliminate any air gaps.
Use the egg wash and a pastry brush to brush the wash on all edges of the pastry, about 1/2 inch in. Using the parchment paper to help, fold half the dough over the other half. Press down on the edges to seal and further seal and crimp by pressing down with the tines of a fork.
Carefully turn the pie over onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top with egg wash. Sprinkle liberally with sanding sugar or granulated sugar. Use a paring knife to cut 6 or 7 vents in the top at 2 - 3 inch intervals.
Bake in the preheated oven until the filling is bubbly and top is golden, about 45 - 50 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let cool for 2 - 3 hours. The filling will continue to thicken and set as the pie cools.
To serve, cut wedges down the pie, with the point of the wedge facing in one direction for one slice and in the opposite direction for the next slice.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
All-Butter Pie Dough
from same book as above
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, put into the freezer for 1 hour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 oz - 1 stick, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen
1/4 cup ice cold water, more if needed
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, combine the cold flour, salt and sugar. Process for a few seconds to combine.
With the processor off, add half the frozen butter. Pulse for 3 - 5 seconds, or until the butter looks like small peas. With the processor off, add the remaining butter and pulse for 4 - 5 seconds, or until the mixture is well mixed and butter pieces are various sizes from small to pea sized or larger.
With the processor off, sprinkle half of the ice-cold water over the mixture. Pulse for 3 - 5 seconds, or until just combined. With processor off, add half of the remaining water. Again pulse for 3-5 seconds. Check the dough by pressing it to the side of the work bowl. If it does not hold together, add the rest of the water and pulse for 3 - 5 seconds, and check again. The dough should just hold together when pressed to the side of the bowl. It will be very dry looking and should not form a ball or mass of dough in the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a disc, kneading gently just a bit if needed to make the dough cohesive. Shape disc into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or, preferably, overnight.
Use straight from the fridge to roll out.