30 Nov 2020
Sour Cherry Pie (and hamentaschen)
for the crust
- 2 C flour
- 1/2 C almond meal
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 C butter (slightly softened, but still cold)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
for the filling (and no, this section doesn’t have precise measurements)
- Sour cherries, rinsed and pitted
- Flour or corn starch
- Dark brown sugar
- Almond extract
- Vanilla extract
- Booze (I prefer wishniak (a sort of cherry liquor), but kirsch or amaretto or whiskey or rum or whatever you like will work just fine)
for the crumblies
- 1/2 C flour
- 1/4 C sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 C butter
Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Add the butter and mix or squish together by hand until the dough reaches a texture like bread crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Slam it against a hard surface to remove the air bubbles, as you would if working with clay. Form it into a squat, chubby cylinder, and cut the cylinder in half so that you have two disks. (Or into smaller chunks, if you prefer smaller pies.) Wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, and up to twenty-four hours. Alternatively, you can stick them in the freezer and they’ll keep for a few months. This makes enough dough for two reasonably large tarts (or more smaller ones).
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
Prepare an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. (Or several!)
Take one chunk of dough out of the fridge at a time. I like to roll out my dough between floured layers of waxed paper, to keep my rolling pin clean and make it easier to flip it as I go. Every few moments, just gently remove the wax paper and sprinkle on a bit more dough to keep it from sticking. When it’s about 1/8″ thick, flip it out onto a prepared baking sheet.
You’re going to build a really haphazard filling right on top of the dough, keeping about 1.5″-2″ clear around the edge.
First, the sour cherries. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cherries before piling them on top of the dough – no matter how much liquid you remove, you’ll still end up with too much remaining. I promise. (Save the liquid you squeeze out – you can use it to make syrup for soda!)
Next, sprinkle on some flour or corn starch to help absorb the liquid. A nice dusting over all the cherries should do just fine. You really can’t go wrong here. Then sprinkle on a light dusting of cinnamon as well.
Drizzle a few little dashes of vanilla and almond extracts over the cherries.
Heavily sprinkle brown sugar over the cherries next. My brown sugar tends to solidify, so more often than not I use a knife to just slice the brown sugar over the cherries. I use rather a lot, but it’s just a matter of taste. Sour cherries are more flavorful than sweet ones, and you add a lot of sweetness with ice cream at the end anyway.
Last, splash some booze over the whole mess. Rather a lot more than you did with the extracts. Definitely more of a splash than a drizzle, this time. Don’t panic. The alcohol will cook off, and it’ll be lovely.
To finish things up, make the crumbles by mixing together the non-butter crumbly ingredients and then cutting in the butter until the texture is, well, crumbly. Sprinkle over the cherries.
At this point, if you’re making pies in bulk for a parent who sulks if he doesn’t get enough pie each summer, you can just freeze your pie in his freezer and instruct him on how to bake it himself whenever he wants. That’s a bit silly, though. He always bakes and eats them all within the first week anyway.
Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375° F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until it looks done.
Serve with vanilla ice cream for best effect.
I just use this crust dough for hamentaschen. Form into a log, chill, then slice circles. Put some jam in the middle of each circle and shape appropriately. I honestly don’t remember the right baking time, sorry.