Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fresh Cherry Crumble Pie

The pie bug has officially bitten me, and while strolling through the farmer’s market yesterday some bright red cherries called out to me.  I do love cherry pie, probably because it reminds me of two of my favorite things: summer and diners. While I enjoy all forms of cherry 

pie  (from individual ‘hand pies’ to freeform galettes) my favorite is probably a double-crust country fair style pie. But when it’s hot out, I don’t necessarily want to be messing around too much with pie dough, so I opt for a simpler version of the classic: a crumble-

topped pie that half pie, half crisp. The crust is my basic pie dough, adapted from my book Diner Desserts, and has butter and shortening in it. The butter is for flavor, the shortening for flakiness. If you happen to be firmly in the pie-crust-made-with-just-butter camp, though, by all means just use butter (personally, 

shortening is my friend, and I’m not afraid to use a bit of it when necessary). The filling is a straight-forward one made with sweet cherries, sugar, cornstarch and a little lemon zest to boost the flavor. The crumble topping, which comes together quickly in the food processor, is made with slivered almonds, brown sugar, butter and a bit of cinnamon, a combination of flavors that works beautifully with cherries. Serve it with whipped cream, whipped crème fraiche, or vanilla or almond ice cream for a little slice of heaven.

Fresh Cherry Crumble Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8

Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks and frozen
1/3 cup (63 g) solid vegetable shortening, frozen
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup (96 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (45 g) slivered almonds
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (81 g) light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 1/2 tablespoons (63 g) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cherry filling:
2 1/2 pounds (1.12 kg) fresh sweet cherries (or sour, if you can find them!)
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (22 g) cornstarch
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt

 Make the crust:
1. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse on and off until combined. Scatter the butter pieces and the shortening, in large chunks, over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water and process until the mixture just starts to come together. (If the dough seems dry, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water as necessary. Do not allow the dough to form a ball on the blade, or the resulting crust will be tough.)
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a thick disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
3. Lightly flour a large work surface. Place the dough disk on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round about 1/8 inch or slightly less thick and about 12 inches in diameter.
4. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie pan by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about 3/4 inch of overhang. Fold the dough underneath itself and crimp the edge with your fingers. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Make the streusel topping:
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, almonds, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Combine the melted butter with the vanilla extract and add the bowl. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly.

Make the cherry filling: 
6. In a large bowl, combine the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch, salt and lemon zest.

Assemble the pie: 
7. Scrape the cherry mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the cherries. Place the pie plate on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and thick. Remove to a rack to cool to room temperature before serving.
8. Serve each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

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