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This is a pie worth waiting for.

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Remember seeing this pie in a previous post? It looks so humble, like your standard plain-jane berry pie. But it is so much more. This is Cherry Berry Pie, and it has a story.

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The story begins about 30 years ago, with a family friend of mine and his significant other. She was a baking enthusiast, and often entered pie-baking contests. This one was a winner. It was also his favorite.

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These two eventually broke up. And one day, a few years ago, he started recounting his memories of this special pie.

A graham cracker crust. A cheesecake layer. A sour cherry layer. A fresh raspberry & blackberry layer. A lattice crust on top. This is the stuff of dreams, people. All the best of the pie world, coming together in sweet harmony. I could see why he reminisced so lovingly.

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His birthday was coming up. I started searching for recipes that might help me recreate the mythical Cherry Berry Pie. And then I found it.

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Cooks.com had a Cherry Berry Pie recipe that seemed pretty close to his description. With a few alterations, I hoped it would be close enough.

I went to my trusty Baking Illustrated book for the best crust recipes. I made a few other alterations to the Cooks.com recipe based on his specific recollections, and tried it out.

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When he arrived for his birthday dinner, he was thrilled to see his favorite pie sitting in front of him. I nervously awaited his judgment. One taste and he exclaimed, “You got it!”

It was my “Eureka!” moment.

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The moments when I most love baking are those moments when the people I love are enjoying something I’ve made especially for them.

Since then, I’ve made it every year for his birthday, and he says that it just keeps getting better.

And he swears that it’s just as good, if not better, eaten cold for breakfast the next day. If it lasts that long.

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Cherry-Berry Pie

adapted from http://www.cooks.com/recipe/th2032yr/cherry-berry-pie.html

Graham Cracker Crust: Use your favorite. I use the one in Baking Illustrated, in the Summer Berry Pie recipe. Prebake it slightly.

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Lattice Crust: Again, use your favorite. I use the Baking Illustrated Basic Pie Dough, Lattice Top Variation. I usually make this first, form it into a lattice, and stick it in the freezer while I prepare the rest of the pie.

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Cherry Layer:

  • 16 oz. can pitted tart cherries, drained, but reserve 1/2 c. liquid
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 4 tsp. quick cooking tapioca
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine cherries, reserved juice, sugar, tapioca, cornstarch and extracts. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, until mixture boils; boil 1 minute (tapioca will not be completely soft yet). Set aside to cool.

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Cream Cheese Layer:

  • 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In medium bowl, stir cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and flavorings until blended.

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Spread on bottom of pie crust.

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Berry Layer:

  • 1/2 c. fresh raspberries and 1/2 c. fresh blackberries, or any combination of fresh or frozen berries that adds up to about 1 cup
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

In small bowl, combine berries, sugar and cornstarch; stir gently, trying not to crush the berries; spoon over cream cheese layer.

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Spoon cherry mixture over raspberries.

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place lattice crust over pie, and press onto sides of pie plate. Place cut-out pieces of crust around the edge of the pie plate to fill gaps between lattice strips.

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Glaze crust with 1 egg white or 1 Tbsp. melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake 40 more minutes. Cover edge of crust with foil if it begins to brown too much. Cool before serving.

DSC_0789Store in the fridge, if there’s any left.

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