The main body of this post was written by my friend Britt, who is a Pastry Chef for Tom Douglas Restaurants in Seattle, Washington. It was first posted in 2007 on my first blog, The Pink Hobart. It all seems like a lifetime ago. My late husband and I were not even married yet, and his son and I were still trying to figure each other out. I scooped him up one afternoon and put a cherry pitter in his hand, and to our mutual delight, he was a natural. The rest that follows is the original text, and links to the kiddo when he was an 11-year-old, enthusiastic pie maker. One note about the filling: I love to add up to a third of a cup of seedless raspberry preserves to the filling after its cooled. It adds a lovely flavor, but it’s not required. I’ve also sprinkled a little bit of crunched up hail sugar from ChefShop.com (who are also the source of my bing cherries) over the top of this particular lady.
Tackling the task of pitting the cherries for this pie is an effort well worth making. In the pastry kitchen, we liken this to the mind numbing chore of shelling fava beans or de-veining shrimp. Commercial cherry pitters will cut your prep time in half. Decent handheld pitters can be
picked up for less than $20.00. However, if you don’t want to spend the money for yet another gadget, don’t let that discourage you from making this pie. Grab a friend, a couple of paring knives and make it a team effort. Like shelling fava beans, this is the perfect job to do sitting
on the porch, dishing with a pal. Just remember to wear your grubbies, cherry juice will splatter everywhere, including your clothes.
Bing Cherry Pie a la Brittany Lee Adams
Use a good quality butter for this, you will thank yourself later. I like Plugra, a European style butter which can be found at Trader Joe’s. This recipe will leave you with plenty of extra dough.
- 2 cups pastry or all purpose flour
- 8 oz. cold unsalted butter
- 1 tsp sea salt (or 3/4 tsp. kosher salt)
- 5-7 Tb. ice water
Cut your butter into small cubes, and place on a dinner plate. Put the plate in the freezer while you gather the remaining ingredients.
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly and the butter is pea sized (this can also be done in a large bowl with a pastry cutter or two forks).
Add 5 tablespoons of the ice water and pulse just to combine (mixture should still be crumbly!).
Grab a handful of the crumbs and squeeze it together with your fist. If the mixture holds together, it’s done. If not, add more water, one teaspoon at a time.
Dump the crumbly dough out onto a work surface. Divide it into two piles (one for the top crust and one for the bottom). Press each pile together so you have two discs of dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
This may seem like a strange method for making a pie filling, but it’s necessary to cook a few cups of the cherries with the starch. The pie is still delicious if the pre-cooking process is eliminated (just be sure to omit the water!), however, the juices and starch with fall to the bottom of the pie. This creates a strange gelatinous layer after the pie sits for a while.
- 4# cherries (weighed
before stemming and pitting)
- 2 Tb. lemon juice
- 6 oz. water
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 Tb amaretto (optional)
- 2 Tb unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Stem and pit the cherries. Save any juices that accumulate.
Whisk the sugar, starch, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large pan, bring the water, lemon juice, two cups of the cherries and any juices accumulated during the pitting process to a boil. Add the starch and stir consistently over medium heat for about thirty seconds. Mixture will be very thick and gloppy. Fold in remaining cherries and amaretto if using. Cover surface with plastic and chill until cold. Spoon filling into the crust and dot with the butter. Cover with the top crust, seal and crimp the edges. Cut a few steam vents on top and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for thirty minutes, then turn heat down to 350, and continue baking for one hour.
Let cool for 3-5 hours before cutting. Makes 6-8 slices.