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Wednesday, August 12

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Recipe Thu Aug 02 2007

Deciding on a Homemade Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie-2.jpg

When I veganize a recipe, I often wonder if I should limit the changes just to making it vegan - something that often yields a reasonably similar product. Or should I make it healthier or incorporate some other change, too? In the latter comes the risk of wrongly associating the image of a vegan product with what might better be understood as a compromise - or adjustment - in taste driven by that other change, say to limit the amount of saturated fat, salt, sugar or just plain fun. If we want, we can fatten up vegan products quite well and tasty just like their buttery counterparts. Gladly, pitting six cups of cherries by hand left me plenty of time to think about which option to choose.

I'd wanted to veganize the Gourmet's "perfect cherry pie" (July 2007) when a few weeks ago, at the height of cherry season, I loaded up at a farmers market. Just replace butter with margarine (non-hydrogenated, preferably) and omit or replace the whole milk for brushing on the pie's top. Deviating beyond vegan, oil seemed healthier than margarine (and better than the vegetable shortening the recipe called for in addition to butter), and whole wheat flour more wholesome than all-purpose flour.

With whole wheat and oil, the crust's texture felt good, not as thin and flaky as all-purpose flour could yield, but hearty, crumbly and perhaps with just a bread-like hint. As my sweetie later suggested, next time I will use more water to convince the whole wheat dough into a material that will roll out nicely without breaking. This time, I pressed my fragmented dough directly into the clear glass pan for the pie bottom, and turned small sections of thin dough to lay on top in pieces suggesting a crumble topping. Next time, I'll have nicely rolled pieces for the top and bottom.

I've rewritten Gourmet's recipe with my changes. Cherry season is closing so go get yours now.

Pastry Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 cup grape seed oil, another oil or non-hydrogenated margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 to 7 teaspoons ice water (more if using whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon sugar for dusting

Combine the flour, oil and salt in a bowl, starting with a spoon and ending with your hand. Slowly work water in until it all sticks together quite well. A handful of dough squeezed into a ball should maintain its shape. If your handful crumbles apart, mix in a tablespoon more water and try again (more water when using whole wheat flour). Mix just enough to combine. Over-mixing will work the gluten in the flour to make the dough stiff like bread. Split the mixture into eight pieces and knead each once or twice with the palm of your hand. Gather it all up and form into two balls, one slightly larger. Flatten each round, wrap and chill until firm, from an hour up to two days.

2 tablespoons ground tapioca flour (or 3 tablespoons tapioca pearls, ground to a powder in a clean coffee grinder)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 cups fresh pitted sour cherries (or 4 cups sour and 2 cups sweet)

Preheat the oven to 425 F with a sheet pan on a rack in the middle. Whisk together the tapioca flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and sugar. Mix in the cherries and vanilla extract. Let that combine for 30 minutes. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, turn out the larger piece of dough to a 14-inch diameter circle. Lay it into a 9-inch pie pan for the shell and trim so the dough overhangs by 1/2-inch. Put the pan in the fridge and roll out the smaller disc to 12 inches for the crust, again on a floured surface.

Give the cherry mixture you put aside another mix, and add it to the pan with a slotted spoon so you'll leave behind excess liquid. Cover with the crust. Squeeze the edges of the dough around the pan. Trim the edge so that 1/2 inch of crust overhangs. Turn the edge under itself along the edge. Cut 5 teardrop holes in the crust to vent steam, sized 1 by 1/2-inch, all being 1 inch from the center of the pie. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes, then cover the edges so they don't burn, reduce to 375 F and bake until quite golden with a simmering filling, 50 to 60 more minutes. Cool on a rack and then take to a picnic.

Summarizing my deviations from Gourmet's recipe, I replaced 3 tablespoons of tapioca pearls with 2 tablespoons of the tapioca flour I found instead, 6 cups of fresh sour cherries with 4 cups sour and 2 cups sweet, mixed cherries per the recipe but drained them by scooping with a slotted spoon while filling the pie. The vegetable shortening and butter were both replaced with grape seed oil using the butter conversion of 1 stick to 1/2 cup, and the all-purpose flour with wheat flour.

Pitting Cherries by Hand.jpg

Cherries- Sour and Sweet- for Pie.jpg

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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