Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Cherry Pie, Two Ways
Cherries are just beginning to appear in markets here, which means they'll be everywhere soon, in the season's flush of inexpensive, abundant stone fruits. Buy lots (organic, if you can) and you'll have enough to make both of the delicious versions below.
The first is a freeform galette, the simplest kind of baked pie: dough is rolled into a circle, filling heaped on, and the edges are folded over before baking. The second--and the one I'm most fond of--is a raw tart with a date-nut crust, topped with vanilla-scented cherries. These are straightforward pies that emphasize the flavor of fresh fruit, but if you want something more nuanced, add a pinch of cardamom to the filling, stir in a tablespoon of liqueur, or sprinkle with dried lavender flowers.
Rustic Cherry Galette
My Mr. discovered that the best tool for removing cherry pits is a cake decorating tip with a width just smaller than the pits themselves. Place it on your finger, and simply press it through the cherry; the pit will pop right out.
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpoe flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1-4 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice or vegan sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds fresh cherries, stems and pits removed
Heat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and set aside.
Make the crust: In a medium bowl, stir together flour and sea salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until pea-sized bits form. Starting with 1 tablespoon, sprinkle ice water over the mixture and gently toss to combine, adding water by the tablespoon until the dough is moistened and just holds together. Form the pastry into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and chill while you prepare the filling.
Make the filling:
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch until completely smooth. Add cherries, and gently stir to coat. Set aside until ready to assemble the galette.
To assemble: Lightly flour the prepared baking sheet. Roll out dough into a 12" circle directly onto the parchment; the edges will be slightly rough and uneven, and this is fine. Mound filling onto pastry, leaving a 1-2" clean edge. Fold dough over the filling, pressing gently to secure it. Brush with water, non-dairy milk, or vegetable oil, or sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
Transfer to oven, and bake 40-45 minutes, until filling bubbles and crust is golden. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing to prevent the juices from escaping.
Dust with powdered sugar immediately before serving, and top with vegan vanilla ice cream or Whipped Coconut Cream, if you like.
The second version is loosely based on Steve Pavlina's raw pie recipe, in which he gives fantastically detailed instructions, and includes some great variations. My recipe features an almond shortbread crust topped with lush raw cherries, and is so quick you can skip the windowsill cooling time.
Raw pies do weep their liquid over time, so remember that the crust will get soggy on sitting for more than a few hours. If this happens, flip the thing over, and serve like a cobbler with almond crumbs concealing juicy cherries. The crust is also delicious shaped into squares or rounds and served as shortbread. It's sandy crunch and almond flavor are great with a cup of tea or almond milk.
A tart pan with a removeable bottom works best here, but a pie tin can also be used; just skip the plastic wrap.
Raw Cherry Tart
For the almond shortbread crust:
1 cups raw almonds
1 cups raw cashews
1 cups pitted dates
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
pinch sea salt
For the cherry filling:
5 cups fresh cherries, thoroughly rinsed
1/2 cup soft pitted dates (Medjools are ideal)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds scraped from 1" of vanilla bean
Make the crust:
Line the sides of a tart pan with plastic wrap, then drop the pan bottom over the wrap. This will allow you to easily lift the tart ring once the pie is assembled. Set aside.
In a food processor, process almonds and cashews until fine but not oily. Add dates, almond extract, and sea salt, and process again. The mixture will look sandy, but should hold together when pressed between two fingers. If it's too loose, continue processing, or add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it does, but don't allow it to become too sticky.
Press dough into the prepared pan in an even layer; the back of a spoon or bottom of a glass is good for this. Start with the center, and pat the crust up onto the sides, leveling the top. Transfer crust to refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Make the filling:
Roughly pit 1 cup of the cherries, and transfer to a blender. In a medium bowl, soak dates in enough water to cover, and set aside while you stone the rest of the cherries.
Halve remaining 4 cups of cherries, pitting them as you do--I like to cut around the widest part of the cherry for really pretty fruits--and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Drain soaked dates and add them to the 1 cup of cherries in the blender, along with lemon juice and vanilla extract or seeds. Blend until very smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Pour mixture over pitted cherries, and gently stir to combine.
To asssemble: Pour filling into refrigerated crust, mounding cherries generously over the top. Eat immediately, or refrigerate for up to several hours. To serve, gently lift the tart pan from its sides using the plastic wrap, which can be discarded. With the bottom still attached, transfer to a platter. If you plan to serve the tart at another location, bring the filling in a separate container, and assemble when you arrive.
Leftovers make a really nice breakfast, alongside a hot cup of tea.