“White meat is for wusses.” This is what my brother said at the Thanksgiving table last week. It is entirely possible he was clutching a drumstick at the time.
This past holiday was not for weaklings. We had a 16-pound hen turkey that my eighty-eight year old grandmother lugged up from her basement freezer. We debated on just how drunk Frank Sinatra sounded in his holiday record with Bing. And my little cousin quietly (okay, not so quietly) tried to plot a Monopoly coup when I secured hotels on both Boardwalk and Park Place.
It was a take-no-prisoners kind of holiday. And I was well aware that the pie had better deliver. Luckily, no one took the pie pan and heaved it out the window. It was quite good, actually. In fact, I do believe I’ll likely live to make pie again.
The whole wheat pâte brisée was purely accidental. It was my second attempt at making this Thanksgiving's pie crust. It's best not to get into the first attempt details. Let's just say it ended in some pretty unfortunate pastry carnage. I don't want to implicate the bread flour, but it knows what it did.
As for the sour cherries? No one in their right mind likely has them right now. They were collateral damage from a freak farmers' market "accident" this summer. At the time I desperately needed over fifty dollars worth of sour cherries to, ahem, store in my freezer.
These mistakes made for a lovely pie. An “I can absolutely eat this for breakfast” kind of pie. And lunch. And dinner. It was a take-no-prisoners nutty, flaky, cherry-filled pastry. And it certainly made itself at home with the rest of the holiday.
Sour Cherry Pie with Whole Wheat Pâte Brisée
Pâte Brisée Crust
Adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang
1.75 cups white whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp sugar, plus additional sugar for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp whole milk, plus 1 additional tbsp after the pie is filled
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
5 cups whole sour cherries, pitted
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter
To made the crust, use a kitchen aid with the paddle attachment or handheld mixer and mix together flour, sugar and salt for about 10 seconds or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top of the flour and mix on low speed for about 1 minute or until the butter is about the size of pecans and the flour holds together when you pinch it.
In a small bowl, whisk the yolks and 3 tbsp of milk together and then add to flour mixture; mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until the dough barely comes together. (At this point it will not look like dough, it will look like a shaggy flour mixture; be careful not to overmix it.)
Dump the flour on to an unfloured space and gather it together into a tight mound. With the palm of your hand push the top of the mound down and out, smearing the dough as you go. Repeat this about once or twice on each part of the dough until the butter is smeared throughout and you can see streaks of it (this should take about 6-10 smearings). Gather up the dough and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. It needs to rest at least 4 hours (or up to 4 days) in the fridge before it is ready to be used.
When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to soften slightly to make it easier to roll. Meanwhile, to make the filling, whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl; stir in cherries, lemon juice, and extracts and set aside.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces; on a floured surface, form 1 piece of the dough into a circle and roll it out until it is 12 inches in diameter. (Using your rolling pin, roll the dough out in one direction instead of rolling your pin back and forth. Pause to shift the dough ninety degrees to ensure that the dough rolls out evenly.) Once the first piece of dough is rolled out, place it on a plate in the fridge until it is ready to be used.
Repeat your rolling with the second dough piece. Then, roll this dough round gently around your rolling pin and then slowly unroll it on to a 9-inch pie pan; gently coax the dough into the pan by pushing the edge of the dough so that it slides into the bottom of the pie pan and then press the dough gently into the bottom of the pan. Let the excess dough hang off the sides of the pan.
Pour the filling into the middle of the pie pan, dot with 2 tbsp of butter. Roll the other dough round loosely around your rolling pin and unroll it on top of the filling. Trim the excess dough so that it is 1/2 inch from the lip of the pie pan, using a knife. Crimp the top and bottom crust edges together. Cut about eight 2 inch slits into the top pie crust. Brush the top crust with 1 tbsp of milk and sprinkle with sugar (about 1 tbsp).
Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes; reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for about 50-60 minutes longer. Check occasionally to make sure the pie edges aren't browning too much; cover them with foil to prevent further browning, as necessary. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the cherry juices are bubbling. Let cool on a wire rack, about 4 hours, before serving.
Yields one sweet pie
-I combined a few different recipes to come up with this one, including this one from Bon Appetit. I wanted to use Chang's pâte brisée because I "get" how she explains pastry. And, let's be honest, this was a high stakes pie mission. Chang uses all purpose flour for her crust. If you want to do a whole grain crust you'll want to use pastry flour, otherwise just use regular flour. The crust turned out great, whole wheat and all.
-If you are using frozen cherries, you can heat your cherry filling ever so slightly in a pan just until the cherries soften. You don't want the mixture to be hot, nor do you want the cherries to still be frozen when you pour it into the pie pan.
-The instructions for this recipe are a bit intense. I know. And for this I am sorry.