Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cherry Slab Pie



Have I ever mentioned that I hate pie crust? Really, pie crust is easy to make.  Its the rolling that scares the daylights out of me.  I've read countless tutorials, but every time I roll out anything, it tears or its uneven.   Too cold and it breaks.  Too warm and it sticks to your counters.  You really have to time it perfectly.   And being a novice, I never seem to get the timing right.

But, OH! I wanted to make this pie from the first time I saw it.  It must have been just about a year ago.  I saw it on one of the food blog compilation sites.  And I bookmarked it and swore I'd tackle it one day when I was feeling ambitious in the kitchen.

I got the itch this weekend and we were having lunch with friends on Sunday, so I decided to commit to it by not only buying 8 cups of cherries but also telling my friends I was bringing it.   My daughter and I got busy pitting the cherries and making the filling one day.  And over night I debated running to Publix to get my trusty old stand-by, the Pillsbury Pie Crust.  Why Pillsbury can't make a quarter sheet pan sized pie crust, I will never know.

Maybe it was a need for conquering this pie, but I got up early on Saturday and busted out a pate brisee. I used the recipe from  The Italian Dish, because she had already figured out how much extra dough I'd need to make a slab, and really I suck at math.    The dough came together quickly, so a few hours later, I decided it was just time to get rolling before I lost my nerve.    I literally live across the street from a grocery store.   I could hear that Pillsbury Doughboy laughing at me from his refrigerator case.

It wasn't so bad.  I did a few things to set myself up.  First, I took my quarter sheet pan -- wait, if you don't have a quarter sheet pan, go get one.  They are so versatile.  And while you are there, get a half sheet, too.  Ok?  Ok, so I took my sheet pan and filled it with ice and let it sit on my granite counter top and make it really cold.   Then I dumped the ice and dried the pan and the counter very well.  Then, I floured the surface.   I don't know if this was helpful or not, but I felt better that it wasn't going to stick right away.

After I floured my work surface, I put my quarter sheet back down and traced around with my finger in the flour, so I'd know how big to roll my crust.

Then I started to roll.  And roll.  And roll.  It's a lot of dough. And a lot of rolling.  I've always said that home made pie crust is a lot of work and doesn't yield anything so much better than a Pillsbury ready made*.   But maybe its just because I make pie crust once a year and maybe my pie crust is not very awesome.   I mean, it's pie crust.  And cherries.  So it is awesome.  I'm just saying someone who does not tremble at the thought of butter and flour being rolled out might make something a little flakier and tastier.

The end result was well worth it.  It was pretty. And delicious.  And I had to leave half of it at my friends house when left because I did not trust myself with this pie alone in the house on Monday.   Oh yea, and if I can do this, I am absolutely certain that you can too.


 *I do not work for good people of Pillsbury.  I'm pretty sure they don't know who I am.  But they make a good pie crust. 
Cherry Slab Pie
filling adapted from Kitchen Simplicity 
crust courtesy of The Italian Dish

For the filling:
6 cups pitted cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
dash ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Put cherries, sugar, cinnamon and zest in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Continue simmering for about 5-10 minutes until liquids release. 

Whisk cornstarch and water together.   Add to sauce pan and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Let cool. 

For the crust:
3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 sticks, unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1/2 cup ice water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs, about 10 seconds.  

With machine running, slowly pour the ice water through the feed tube until the dough just comes together in a ball.  

Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.   Flatten a little, dust with flour and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. 

To assemble the pie, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  On a lightly floured surgace, roll out the larger piece of dough into a rectangle, slightly larger than your baking sheet.   Fit it into your baking sheet, pressing into the corners.  Pour pie filling into pie shell. 

Re-flour your surface and roll out the remaining piece of dough to the size of the pan.   Fold the edge of the bottom dough over the top dough.  Pinch edges to seal and prick with a fork or cut vent holes in top dough.  

Bake until crust is golden brown, about 40-50 minutes.   Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days. 

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