Northwest Cherry Pie
- Kitchen scale
- Rolling Pin
- Pie pan 9"
- Pie weights (or a bag of red kidney beans)
- Microplane grater
- Pastry cutter
- Pastry brush
- Nutmeg grater (optional)
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (300 grams)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 oz unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks)
- 6 oz cream cheese (3/4 package)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cups half-and-half or heavy cream
- 1/4 cup butter for greasing pan and foil
- 1 large egg for egg wash on top
- 4 lbs cherries
- 1 lemon
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- vanilla ice cream (shopping reminder)
- In a large bowl, measure 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, or weigh out 300 grams.
- Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir it into the flour.
- Cut butter and cream cheese into pieces and put it into the bowl.
- Using your fingers, work the flour into the fat, breaking it into ever smaller pieces, until it has a texture like grainy corn meal.
- Initially add 4 tablespoons of liquid. Try to drizzle it evenly over the dough.
- Use a soft spatula to fold the mixture repeatedly to get the liquid to stick the grains together without mashing them. Add more liquid as necessary, but no more than absolutely necessary!
- When you think there is enough liquid for the crust to adhere, dump it onto two pieces of wax paper. It’s okay if they aren’t quite exactly the same size; the larger one can be the lower crust.
- Form the dough into two discs. If there’s not enough liquid for the discs to hold together, put everything back into the bowl, break it back into pieces, and add a little more.
- Wrap the discs in wax paper and chill in the refrigerator. Chill at least one hour and up to overnight
- Preheat oven to 450° with shelf on center rack or one notch lower.
- Get the dough disc for the bottom crust out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
- Prepare the baking pan with a good coating of butter or shortening.
- Place the disc of dough on a floured piece of wax paper. Flour the rolling pin and your hands.
- Roll the dough out bigger than the pie dish so there will be enough to go over the sides.
- Use the wax paper as support as you gently fold the dough into fourths. Now you can gently pick it up by the folded corner and transfer it to the pan.
- Place the dough in one quadrant of the pie pan and gently unfold it over the pan. Try to press all the air bubbles out as you go. Repair any rips or holes with some of the excess dough. Trim excess dough at the edge of the pie pan. Clean up the edges with your fingers until smooth all around.
- Butter one side of a piece of aluminum foil. Press the foil over the pie crust and smooth it down, wrapping the excess foil over the edges. Add a little more foil if necessary. Fill the foil with ceramic pie weights. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake 18 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes on a wire rack.
- Remove the pie weights and carefully remove the foil.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Rinse the cherries thoroughly in a colander. Examine each cherry and remove the stems, discarding any damaged or rotted cherries.
- Place each cherry on a cutting board. Lay your utility knife across it, and then whack it with the heel of your hand. Hit it just hard enough so you can feel the seed loosen inside, but not so hard that it crushes the cherry. Cut the cherry in half with the knife, and remove the seed with your thumb. Collect the washed and pitted cherries in a medium bowl, and discard the seeds.
- Capture all the flavor of the lemon by zesting and juicing it. We used a microplane grater for zesting. You can also use the smaller holes of a box grater. We used a tablespoon to ream out the lemon halves and a small strainer to catch the pulp and seeds.
- Put the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and juice, vanilla extract, and half a cup of water in a large pan, and heat on medium high, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Optionally add a fresh grating of nutmeg to enhance the flavor.
- Once you see bubbles, turn the heat down to low or medium-low, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. After 10 minutes, the sauce should be clear and thick.
- Allow the bottom crust and the filling to cool completely before continuing.
- Preheat oven to 375° F with the rack in the center position.
- Dump the filling into the bottom crust and level it with your spatula.
- Take the top crust from your pie project out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
- Roll out the top crust as usual, just as you did the bottom crust, just a little larger than the diameter of the pie, on a piece of wax paper. Cut into strips about 1″ wide.
- Lay every other strip across the pie in the same place it would be anyway.
- Roll back all the even-numbered strips a little past halfway, and place the longest remaining strip across the pie at that position. Replace the rolled-back strips.
- Repeat this technique with all the odd-numbered strips, rolling them back a strip’s-width short of the first cross strip. Place the second-longest remaining strip across the pie. Again, replace the rolled-back strips.
- Repeat the above two steps until you get to the edge of the pie, and then turn the pie around and do the same thing on the other side.
- Trim the strips at the edge of the bottom crust with a table knife, collect the trimmed and leftover dough, make it into a disc, flour it, roll the length the diameter of the pie and the width about five inches, and cut it into extra strips.
- Take some of the extra strips and make a ring around the outside of the pie, right at the edge of the pie plate. Turn the plate a full 360° several times as you press the strips down until the edge of the pie is sealed to the bottom crust. Don’t forget to seal the ends of the outer strips together.
- Beat one egg with one tablespoon of cold water.
- Brush the egg wash onto the crust. Be sure to do the horizontal strips, the vertical strips, and the outer ring.
- Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet and put it in the oven. Bake about 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, if the crust is overbrowning, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil.
- Bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack, at least two hours, before serving.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream.