Monday, December 26, 2011


Perhaps if I lived in Michigan, where sour cherries are grown, I would be more enthused about cherry pie.  
But truthfully, I'm so in love with apple, pumpkin, coconut cream, key lime, lemon and berry pies, I just never think about cherry pie.  

Cherry pie can be served all year long, but it's especially nice at Christmas time.  This one accompanied us to Christmas dinner with our friends, where the host, Tom, (who hails from Pittsburgh, PA, not Michigan) says it's his favorite.  Cherry flavor dominates this pie, even though it contains a pint of blueberries.  

Since I'm really not much of a cherry fan, I found this hard to rate.  Tom loved the pie.  I liked it, but didn't love it, because I found it too sweet for my taste.  Mickey, Tom's wife, liked it and said it would be perfect with chocolate drizzled over it.  My intent was to serve it with chocolate ice cream, but I left the ice cream home.  If you like cherry pie, you might want to give this a try.  If you've never tried cherry pie, here's your chance.

Cherry-Blueberry Almond Crumb Pie
Rating:  8 out of 10

Crisco Single Pie Crust:
1-1/2 cups low-protein flour (such as White Lily all-purpose)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup Crisco shortening, placed in freezer 15 minutes
4-6 Tbsp. ice water

In small resealable sandwich baggie, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; place bag in freezer for 15 minutes.  Pour flour mixture into work bowl of food processor.  Pulse briefly to combine.  Add shortening, cut into 5-6 pieces.  Pulse several times, till mixture is like coarse sand.  Pour into medium-large bowl and drizzle water over the flour as you toss with a fork or with your hands.  Use as little water as possible.  (I used 5 Tbsp., but the amount will depend on the humidity and your altitude.)  The dough will be soft and pliable and easy to press into a flattish disc.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 1/2 hour. This makes a sturdy but flaky, tender crust with nice flavor.

Almond Crumb Topping:
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat, or all-purpose, if preferred)
1/3 cup almond meal or finely ground almonds
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup sliced almonds

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  Stir in butter with fork and mix till moistened.  (You can also put the ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse till combined and mixture looks like wet sand.)  Set aside.

Cherry-Blueberry Pie Filling:
1 (14.5 oz.) can pitted Montmorency red tart cherries, drained, juice reserved
1 (15 oz.) can pitted dark sweet cherries, drained, juice reserved
1 pint fresh or frozen blueberries, rinsed, drained
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Michigan red tart cherry preserves

  In large bowl, combine cherries, blueberries, almond extract, lemon juice, and orange zest; set aside.  In small cup, combine 2 Tbsp. reserved juice with cornstarch; set aside.  In 2-quart heavy saucepan, combine remaining reserved juice with sugar; bring to boil over high heat and boil about 20-25 minutes, or till mixture is reduced by half and slightly syrupy.  Stir about 3 Tbsp. of the hot syrup into the cornstarch mixture, then stir the cornstarch mixture into the syrup.  Bring back to boil and boil for 5 minutes, or till mixture thickens.  Stir in the preserves.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Pour slightly cooled syrup over fruit, tossing to combine.  

1.  Fit 9" pie plate (or 8" deep dish pie plate) with your favorite pie dough.
2.  Refrigerate pie dough.   
3.  Make crumb topping.
4.  Heat oven to 400F.  Adjust oven rack to lower position.
5.  Make pie filling.  Fill pie dough with filling.  Bake 30 minutes.
6.  Spoon crumb topping over partially baked pie.  Use pie shield to protect pie edges.  Bake additional 20
7.  Sprinkle almonds over top of pie, fluffing topping with fork if needed.  Bake additional 10 minutes, or till
     pie is bubbling.  

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