January 28, 2021
I made pies all morning. I tried out different crusts. (Don’t worry I used the food processor to make the crust, I don’t do it by hand.) I played with flavor combinations. I thought about open faced pies, and pies covered in gorgeous lattice work. (I can’t do that yet, maybe I’ll practice next pie baking day!) I thought about pies all day long. And meanwhile, this cherry pie emerged from the oven. It was so yummy that I couldn’t stop eating it. I kept shaving off slivers of crust and fruit and topping. I was out of control. I had to give it away.
People tend to make pies only for Thanksgiving or special occasions. I understand. Pies get a bad rap. They can be complicated, and time consuming. And truly this pie is no different. It is a little time consuming, and you might have to reread the directions because it’s a little complicated. But I must say that it is worth it.
I need to tell you about the incredible flaky crust! It was so easy to make and it rolled out so beautifully. I tried several crusts and this one was the clear winner. (Thank you Erin McDowell of The Book on Pie.) Also, the sour cherries alongside the sweetness of the gingery crumble was perfection. What a combination of flavors! At the same time, the crunch of just a few almonds added texture to this bakers’ delight.
All you need is a trusty rolling pin, ( You don’t really. You can actually use a frozen pie dough. I won’t tell) and pie dish, preferably ceramic, and you are on your way to success. Because if I can make a pie, you can make a pie.
Sour Cherry Pie with Ginger Almond Crumble
Inspired by Erin McDowell of The Book on Pie and Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
For the Crust
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup (60 grams) ice water
For the Cherry Filing
3 pounds (1360 grams) sour cherries, pitted (canned/jarred-in the canned fruit section of the supermarket-NOT cherry pie filling)
3/4 cup (150 grams) of granulated sugar
1/3 cup (40 grams) of cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 cup (27 grams) minced crystalized ginger
For the Crumble
2/3 cup (60 grams) whole oats, ground to a flour in the a food processor (yielding 1/2 cup-45 grams-oat flour)
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (55 grams) crystalized ginger
3/4 cup (115 grams) unsalted whole almonds coarsely chopped in the food processor or medium fine by hand
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the Pie Crust:
By Hand: To mix the crust by hand whisk together the flour and salt. Cut the cold butter into cubes, tossing them in the flour until each piece is coated. Cut the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your fingers. continue to re-coat the butter in flour and press. You can also use a pastry cutter. For a flaky crust, continue cutting the cutter into the flour just until the pieces of butter are the size of walnut halves. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the cold water. Using your hands toss the flour and the water together. This begins to combine the mixture. As the flour begins to hydrate you can switch to more of a kneading motion. Do not over knead. If your dough is too crumbly, add a little more cold water a teaspoon at a time. Every flour hydrates differently. You are looking for the dough to hold together. If it’s too sticky, you can add a bit of flour. Form the dough into an even disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
With the Food Processor: (How I make the crust!) To mix the crust in the food processor, add the flour and salt. Add the cold butter, cut into cubes and pulse 10-12 times. The butter should be different sizes. Some pea sized pieces, some walnut sized pieces. Add the cold water and continue to pulse 7-10 times until the water is absorbed. The dough will NOT have come together yet. Put a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap. Start pushing the dough together with your hands, almost a kneading motion, until the dough comes together into a a ball. If the dough feels too sticky add little flour. If the dough won’t come together and feels too dry, add a teaspoon at a time of cold water, until it forms a ball. Form the dough into an even disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap it is sitting on and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
Prepare the Bottom Crust
Preheat your oven to 400º F
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled pie dough into a 12 inch round-ish shape. You can roll it out on floured parchment paper because it is easier to peel the dough off the paper than off the counter. Gently fit the dough into a 9 inch pie plate. Fold the excess edges under and crimp decoratively if you wish. You are going to blind bake the crust so when you add the filling, the crust is somewhat coked and will stay firmer on the bottom. Cover the dough completely with foil. (See photo) Weigh it down with pie weights if you have. (Or you can use 2-3 bags of loose dried beans that act as pie weights - which is what I did. If you don’t have the beans or the weights, don’t worry, the foil should be enough to keep the dough from getting puffy.) Bake for 20 minutes while the crust is covered in the foil. When the crust comes out of the oven, spoon out the beans and gently remove the foil. Turn the heat in the oven down to 375º F.
Prepare the Crumble
While you are blind baking the crust, grind the oats to an oat flour in the food processor (you can also use 1/2 cup oat flour, if you have it). Next, add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, crystalized ginger, salt, and whole almonds to the food processor. Grind them together until the nuts are coarsely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the nuts medium fine by hand and mince the crystalized ginger. Put the mixture in a medium size bowl and stir together with melted butter. Set aside.
Prepare the Filling
Drain the cherries in a colander, rinsing off any liquid they have been sitting in.
In a large bowl, mix the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, crystalized ginger and salt.
Assemble the Pie
Make sure the oven is on 375ºF. Pour the cherry mixture into your blind-baked pie shell. Sprinkle the almond crumble over the cherries. Place the pie plate on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, if the crust is getting too dark, you may need to place a loose piece of foil over the pie. This will keep the crust from burning while the cherries continue to cook. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling and thick. Remove to a rack to cool to room temperature before serving. The pie is best eaten the day it is made.