hot cherry

A slice of cherry pie

Do you want a slice of cherry pie?  I can’t type that without thinking about Twin Peaks. Agent Dale Cooper in the Double R Diner, an endless coffee and perfect slice of pie served by the beautiful Shelly.  I loved Twin Peaks, David Lynch at his most attractive weirdest.  I’d love to roll around in his dark mind for a while, I wonder if you’d ever get out though?  It’s a risk I’d be willing to take.

So I have this immense cherry tree in my garden.  It’s beautiful.  I sit under it quite often, eating cherries pulled from the lowest branches, I recommend sitting under a cherry tree eating cherries, it’s a very nice pastime, and if you can pull a cat nap under there too, you’re pretty much winning at life. Even though I knew that the clouds of blossom that appeared overnight, or so it seemed, were cherry blossom, the abundance of perfect cherries still came as a surprise.  There are hundreds of them, the boughs are bent under the weight.  Lil and her cousins picked an enormous bowl of them last weekend and they’ve sat looking beautiful on the kitchen table all week, handfuls of them eaten by passers-by.  Still, they made me feel guilty.  That sounds biblical, Adam and Eve stuff, forbidden and put there for temptation, to test steel wills.  There are great nests of snakes in my metaphorical Garden of Eden, but I care not for them, I can step over them, nor do I have any affiliation with the Old Testament, nor New, to be fair.  No, just guilty because I didn’t want them to go to waste.  Because that would be a proper sin.

I was late with a food post for our work blog, so I went home early, ignored the brief for ‘something with strawberries’ and made a cherry pie instead.  I thought about Audrey Horne’s super-sexy One Eyed Jack’s cherry stalk trick, unreadable in her faux-naive tight little angora sweaters and the inside of David Lynch’s head and snakes and donated ribs and a high stool at a strange, subdued diner.

I’m not the world’s best pastry maker but it seems that thinking about cult, surreal 90s TV programmes and sleeping under trees may be the key – i.e, I didn’t over work or over think it.  And I cannot tell you how god damn good the smell in the cottage was – vanilla (lots of) and warm cherries.  It’s still lingering in my bedroom, and that’s a very appealing thing to fall asleep and wake up to.

Sit and stone the cherries, it’s laborious and your hands will look like the murderous Lady Macbeth’s – I’m looking at mine now, I look like I’ve been up to no good.  Nigel Slater said that a cherry pie with un-stoned cherries is torture.  And that’s the last thing a slice of cherry pie should be.

Cherry Vanilla Pie

What you will need

  • 800g cherries ((un-pitted weight) halved and pitted)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 25g salted butter ((cut into little pieces))
  • 100g cherry jam or conserve
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 225g cold butter ((cut into little pieces))
  • 400g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks ((don’t throw the whites away))
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Step 1 First make the pastry. Add the butter and flour to a food processor and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolks, 2 tbsp cold water and vanilla and mix again. Add a little bit more water if it seems dry
Step 2 Divide into two pieces (one a little bit bigger than the other). Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge
Step 3 Heat the oven to 200C/2180C Fan/Gas 6. Grease a 20-22cm pie dish
Step 4 On a floured surface roll out the larger piece of pastry and place it in the pie dish, aim for the thickness of a £1 coin. Trim the pastry but leave some overhanging because it will shrink back. Prick the base with a fork all over, or add some baking beans – if you have them. Bake blind for around 20 minutes. Remove the beans and trim the edge to neaten
Step 5 Roll out the second piece of pastry and set aside
Step 6 In a large bowl mix the cherries, sugar, vanilla, jam, butter and cornflour together
Step 7 Turn the oven down to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Pour the cherry mixture into the cooked pastry case
Step 8 Carefully place the pastry lid onto the pie. Trim and press down to seal with a fork. Brush with egg white
Step 9 Bake for 35 minutes. Brush again with more egg white and scatter with a little caster sugar. Bake again for five more minutes until golden brown
Step 10 Leave for 20 minutes and serve with ice cream, cream or crème fraiche

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