There’s really no denying that cherry pie is as classic as pie gets. In the fall when the weather turns chilly, apple pies and pumpkin pies reign supreme but since we have the whole summer ahead of us, the time for cherry pie is right now. Even though cherry pie ranks at the top of my list of the most drool-worthy pies, I was straining my brain trying to remember the last time I had made one. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s been YEARS. In my family, the making of a pie is usually required for a celebratory event but in the case of this ruby beauty, it was for comfort; pure and simple.
So far this week has really been a bust. Calgary weather is so changeable and unpredictable that on most days we can have sunshine, gale force winds, rain, snow, sleet, hail…anything really. It so happened that on Tuesday afternoon, the teens and I were heading back home from lunch out when the winds began to howl and rain began to fall quite heavily. I made the hasty decision to stop for coffee at the Braeside Second Cup, not knowing that Braeside streets are known for really bad drainage. By the time I reached the intersection near the Second Cup it was fully underwater with geysers shooting up from where the manhole covers should have been. I parked in the parking lot (which was slightly higher than the intersection) and went inside where all of the customers were glued to the front windows, taking videos of the flood with their phones. Here’s where things begin to go a bit sideways…instead of weathering out the storm/flood we ordered our coffees to go. I figured that if I drove in the opposite direction of where the flood was, I could somehow get around it and get home. We made it two blocks before I realized we were in trouble. I drove the car slowly and slightly to the right side of the road to avoid the open manholes, but at one intersection, the water was just too deep. The wake of a vehicle passing in the opposite direction washed water over my entire hood and the car stalled right away. I managed to maneuver it a bit farther to the side of the road but there we were, stuck in a giant puddle in the middle of a bus stop. Soon, the water began to come in through the passenger side doors and my son began to panic. I mean really panic. He wanted me to open the windows in case we were going to get trapped but I knew if I turned the power on I could risk shorting out the electrical system. He began trying to pry open the moon roof so that he could get out and push us out but the last thing I wanted was him out on the street. The car began to rock in the wake of every passing vehicle and I began to feel ill. There were people on higher ground, taking videos of us with their cell phones and I wanted so badly to scream at them. I felt like a fish in a fish bowl. We were trapped like that for half an hour until finally we could see that the water was subsiding. I think someone must have called 911 because a firetruck arrived and we had 3 firemen push us out of the low spot we were in. My hubby drove the 4 x 4 out to rescue us and determined that the car was not going to start any time soon. Since it was rush hour and traffic was in a grid lock, we all walked back to the Second Cup to wait out the pandemonium. It’s been two days now and the car still won’t start. It looks like enough water got into the engine to make it cease up, so we’re really just waiting for word from the insurance company. I’m guessing it will be a write off and unfortunately we just can’t afford to replace the car right now. So, it’s a tough blow to our family but things could really be a lot worse. We’re safe and that’s what matters.
Now for that pie. I must have really been in a pie baking zone because DAMN this has to be the best pie I have ever made. No, really. It is. I used half small sour Evans cherries that I had frozen from last year and half dark, sweet fresh Bing cherries. Then I added some amaretto and lemon zest. The rest is pie history.
Amaretto Cherry Pie
- 3 cups fresh or frozen Evans cherries (or other small sour cherry); pitted
- 3 cups Bing cherries; pitted
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- zest of a small lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp amaretto
- FOR THE PASTRY
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter; cut into 1 cm cubes
- 6-7 tbsp very cold water
- egg wash
For the Filling
- Add cherries to a pan and place on stove over medium heat.
- Once the berries are sizzling and releasing juices (about 5 minutes), add the amaretto and let boil for a couple more minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch into the sugar.
- Sprinkle 1/2 of the sugar/cornstarch mixture into the cherries and stir well. Repeat.
- Add the lemon zest and juice.
- Let the mixture come to a slight boil and allow to thicken.
- Once the mixture has thickened, remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
For the Pastry
- Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.
- Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. It will look nice and ‘sandy’.
- Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).
- Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water and continue to press until dough comes together.
- Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball (do not overwork). Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).
- Before rolling, take pastry out and let sit for five minutes. Flour your work surface and roll one disk of dough out to 1/8 inch thickness using your pie plate as a size guide. Roll out the second disc of dough and cut into strips for a lattice pie or keep it simple and just poke some holes in the top.